Maastricht in the Cape Winelands
It was on a Wednesday, late morning that we decided to break out of the lockdown blues and head towards Cape Town along the West Coast road with no real plan. It was a beautiful sunny early spring morning, and a feeling of optimism was in the air; wine estates were allowed to operate again, albeit with strict Covid-19 protocols in place.
We first came across the wines of Maastricht at an Old Mutual Trophy Wines presentation a year back - before the wine farm was open to the public, and had put a visit to this Durbanville estate on the 'to visit' list. The newly renovated Tasting Room was opened to the public on 20 March 2020. On 23 March, a national lockdown was announced by SA president Cyril Ramaphosa that commenced on 27 March 2020. Talk about bad timing.
Before visiting with guests, I would typically visit an estate beforehand, asking all kinds of questions and gathering all kinds of information. In this case, none of that happened. We were therefore even more impressed when winemaker Thys conducted the tasting himself in an informal and relaxed fashion. What a treat!
On the 9th of February in 1702, the farm Maastricht was granted to Hendrik Seeger, a Dutch settler that arrived in South Africa with the Dutch East India Shipping Company. The first settlers were searching for land with the ambition to establish agriculture close to the Cape Colony, to supply the Dutch East India Company with fresh produce for their onward journey around the Cape of Storms.
When the first Dutch settlers came to the Cape, on the slopes of the Tygerberg they found a piece of land that reminded them of home in the Netherlands and the soils they used to work with – so they called the farm Maastricht.
During the Batavian Republic, Maastricht was used for meetings by members of the Republic. The line of oak trees planted by a Dutch monk in the 1700’s, can still be seen today.
During the Napoleon wars the Cape, and especially the Tygerberg region, was an important grain and wheat supplier, as the soils were rich and produced good crops. In a documentary from the early 19th century, Maastricht was one of the first nine farms to be registered as wine producers. A minimum of 10 000 vines was required in order to be classified as a wine estate.
The original farmhouse burnt down in the early 1900’s. According to research a part of the current farmhouse was built during the 1920’s, but the farm had different owners over the years and everyone added their own touches to the original building.
Over three hundred years later, the farm is home to the Louw Family, with 100 hectares planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a small block of Pinot Noir, a grape which is difficult to grown in South Africa, but that is performing well in the cooler Durbanville climate.
In 1982, Wheaty Louw, then a 22 year old, and his brother Tienie Louw bought the farm. From 1985 Wheaty started farming Maastrich on his own. He also bought Oatlands, on the other side of Durbanville - some of his best Cabernet Sauvignon is planted there. Today Wheaty lives and works on the estate with his wife Annelize and their three children Lizel, Thys and Beyers.
We chose to make full use of the warm sunny spring day and sat on the patio, adjacent to the tasting room, for a boutique tasting with Thys. The tasting room was an old barn, built originally in 1720, today a heritage building, which overlooks the vineyards.
The soil, rich in clay around the Tygerberg area works like a sponge and captures rain water during the cold and wet Cape Town winters. Maastricht is, as the crow flies, not even 10 km from the Atlantic Ocean and the cooling winds from the Atlantic Ocean produce a well-balanced microclimate, perfect for wine growing.
All the vineyards are dryland and the wines are reflective of their origin. The vines have developed an incredible root system that finds even the smallest amount of moisture in the soil. Dryland vineyards produce a unique flavour profile, and are terroir driven and expressive. Since they are not irrigated, the crops are smaller, but the vineyards perform much better during the hot summer months because they are not reliant on water from an irrigation system.
In 2010 and after many years of producing high quality grapes for other estates, the Louw family decided, in conjunction with the Louw family of Diemersdal, to start their own wine label. This young wine brand 'Maastricht' has been recognised and awarded in several national and international wine competitions.
Today the winemaker is Thys Louw, son of Wheaty and Annelize, a business degree graduate from the University of Stellenbosch, who broadened his knowledge of international winemaking in St. Emillion in Bordeaux and the Napa Valley, California. In 2016, Thys married Malanie who has joined him on the farm. Theirs was also first wedding to ever be hosted at Maastricht.
Chardonnay Wooded 2018: Ripe baked apple, cinnamon spice and a sprinkling of vanilla from 50% new oak.
MCC Brut Rosé: Made of 100% Pinot Noir, it is dry, crisp, perhaps a bit tart, but fruity.
Open: Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 4:00 pm
Six estate wines @ R50.
Add the Chardonnay and MCC to the tasting and taste all 8 wines @ R80.
(At the time of our tasting, the Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon were sold out).
Did you know . . . Just outside the city of Maastricht, Netherlands, one finds various vineyards gracing the slopes of the Limburg hills. The vineyards of Maastricht are some of the oldest in Holland, initially planted back in Roman times. You can visit these vineyards, take a tour, and taste Pinot Noir, Riesling and Müller-Thürgau.
This is an example of a boutique, intimate wine estate visited and enjoyed on a Cape Discovered private wine tour.
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