Linger longer – visit the Waterford Estate Library
For a truly unique experience in the Stellenbosch Winelands, book a Waterford Estate Library Tasting. A special record of the wines produced on the Estate is kept in the Library, and lucky guests are offered a taste.
“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library,” Albert Einstein once quipped. And, in the case of Waterford Estate, this certainly is true.
Yet, the Library at Waterford isn’t where you’d go to find a compelling read. Instead, it’s where you get a taste of the Waterford team’s sense of adventure – their willingness to take risks, to pioneer, to walk the road less travelled.
The Waterford Library is a wonderfully dark, cool room next to the cellar, slightly hidden away from the main tasting room and courtyard, where you can spend a leisurely hour or two tasting truly unique, once-off wines.
“The Library Tasting gives you a chance to try the ‘geekier’ wines we make on the Estate,” says winemaker Mark le Roux, who was recently named South African Young Winemaker of the Year by the globally recognised Tim Atkin Report on South African Wines.
The wines that form part of the Library Collection are an “open book”, Mark continues. These are experimental wines that the Waterford team use to teach themselves new skills. The Library wines are used as a tool to improve the current Waterford wines through vineyard or winemaking techniques, component relationships in a blend during ageing, and so forth.
A visit to the library
First up is a 2009 Bordeaux-style white, made from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted on the Estate. Bright asparagus, gooseberry and zesty citrus notes form a beautiful balance. And, for a white wine that’s almost 10 years old, the liveliness and clarity is a surprise.
Next, a nifty little device called a Coravin is used to pour four glasses of Grenache Blanc without pulling the cork (the Coravin replaces the wine that’s been removed with an inert gas called Argon, which protects the wine). As the Library wines are made in small batches, each drop is precious – and opening bottles without finishing them is simply out of the question. The wine is exquisite: while the palate echoes that of the Sauvignon Blanc, the floral notes and hints of dessert peach are mesmerising.
From here, an opulent 2013 Riesling that boasts a rich, yellow colour is poured. This is followed by a 2013 Pinot Noir with concentrated aromas of fleshy berries and wild cherries, and a lingering dry finish. Both wines are highly enjoyable and speak to the wide range of wines that Waterford makes with remarkable success.
The real showstopper is, however, kept for last. “Edition M”, a full-bodied blend of Merlot (71%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%) and Cabernet Franc (11%), is the wine Mark shared with his family and friends this past festive season (his aim when he first set out to make it). It’s a truly exceptional blend with an expressive nose of ripe cherry, plum and mulberry, and a cigar-box, chocolatey finish.
We’re blown away, and there’s consensus: it was worth doing the Library Tasting just for this magnificent wine.
The great thing about these tastings is that you can do them every so often, and enjoy a unique experience every time. New, experimental wines are always being added to the list. And having a room to yourself, where you can expand your knowledge on Waterford’s offering in the company of a well-informed host, certainly is a great way to spend a morning in the Stellenbosch Winelands.
Book ahead – you won’t be disappointed.