Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Muratie: a South African Estate With a Rich History

You can search near and far, but you may not find such a quaint, rustic wine estate anywhere. The Muratie Estate is tucked away down a long winding round between the hills of the Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The farm on which the vines now stand dates back to the late 17th Century. Today, Muratie’s aesthetic is intertwined with its rich historical significance. The farm building, which houses the tasting room and some dining areas, is lined with old cement fermenting vats, cracked and caked with grape must from decades past. The floorboards inside are worn smooth from wear. A chaotic netting of spider webs hangs from the ceiling and wraps around rows of old bottles. Signs warn visitors not to touch the webs.  

Muratie’s wines boast a similar charm. They’re not bombastic and flamboyant, but they offer a sense of pleasant rusticity, a hand-crafted quality. Muratie is best known for being the first producer of Pinot Noir in South Africa (they bottled Pinot back in the 1920s) as well as making a range of Port-style dessert wines. But Muratie offers a range of well-made, delicious, age worthy wines.

Perhaps most importantly, the estate offers a unique and memorable wine tourism experience. If you’re traveling in the Western Cape, I highly recommended visiting this estate.

My notes on the Muratie wines I tasted…

Yours truly, enjoying the compelling wine and atmosphere at Muratie.
2012 Muratie Wine Estate Chardonnay Isabella - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Lovely aromas of saline, lime, lemon meringue and green melon. Creamy yet so tangy on the palate with lime, apricot and lots of flinty, limestone, mineral accents. A nervy and zesty Chardonnay with some complexity. Could cellar well for two or three years. Aged in 40% new oak. (89 points)

2008 Muratie Wine Estate Chardonnay Isabella - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
After commenting on how much I liked the 2012, the man at the tasting room popped open a 2008 of the same wine to see what I thought. A very interesting wine, the nose shows lemon crème, key lime, nougat, a slight musky note, also a briny-saline note that reminds me of drying off after a surf session. Tangy on the palate, yet creamy, still plenty of life, with notes of white tea, dried honey, some hazelnut and nougat to complement the green melon and dried apricot fruit. Showing its age, but loving the complexity here. (89 points)

Admit it: this is the coolest tasting room you have seen. 
2011 Muratie Wine Estate Pinot Noir George Paul Canitz - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Pure and elegant on the nose, with soft raspberry and wild strawberry, so many spice aromas it’s like smelling the combined spillover from bottom of a well-stocked spice rack. Juicy and berry-driven on the palate, very fresh and silky. Lots of spice and rose to match the fruit. Very smooth, good to go now but could do with some near-term cellaring. Aged in second-year oak for 18 months. (88 points)

2010 Muratie Wine Estate Ansela van de Caab - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Cedar, anise and dried roses meet gushing black cherries on the nose. Grippy tannins, this is a bold wine, with spicy plums and black currants. Laced with anise, black pepper, charcoal and tobacco smoke, this is a bold and ageworthy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. (90 points)

2011 Muratie Wine Estate Shiraz Ronnie Melck - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Smells of black cherries topped with black olives, iron, smoke and loam. Firm with a gorgeous texture. Plummy, with accents of granite, olive tapenade and loamy soil. I also get this sweet cola and root beer, which adds a playful but restrained sweetness to the wine. Very pretty, with cellaring potential of the 3-5 year variety, possibly longer. (89 points)

2013 Muratie Amber Forever - South Africa, Western Cape
Pale gold color. I get lychee, orange blossom and honey on the nose. Rich and honeyed on the palate with lychee nut, orange marmalade, candied grapefruit and potpourri. Medium acid helps calm the richness and make this easy to drink. Not incredible, but a very enjoyable Muscat dessert wine. I’d like to see what this can do in five years. (87 points)


  1. Hey,passing down through numerous gifted and mindful holders throughout the years,Muratie Winery still holds today the exquisite appeal that it held in its romantic beginnings.With sprawling grounds, and a rich guest house,Muratie invites explorers from everywhere throughout the world,to relax and visit the farm that lived like there's no tomorrow as a feature of South Africa's wine culture.Thank you.
    ~Sally Griffin.

    1. Sally, it sure has a timeless feel to it. A beautiful spot and great wines! I'm recommending it to anyone who is traveling to Cape winelands! Cheers!