Falling in Love with Lievland Vineyards
“I have been majorly impressed by every Cabernet and Chenin I’ve tasted under this brand, as each one of them easily outperforms almost all of their comparably priced competitors — from anywhere — on quality and versatility." Wine Review Online - August 2021
In this month's edition of Together Store's 'Falling in Love' series we take a journey through time as well as space to possibly one of South Africa's most iconic, and yet least known farms. Lievland, or 'Love Land' in Afrikaans, has pioneered extraordinary wines and winemaking for many years, quietly exuding excellence through generations.
Take a drive along Stellenbosch's Route 45, near esteemed neighbours such as Villiera, Edgebaston, Le Bonheur, and Babylonstoren, and you will find Lievland farm. A meander up the driveway, and you encounter the first indication of this farm's incredible history as you gaze upon the manor house, stoically enduring the test of time since 1865. There was a moment of love at first sight when two wine industry partners looked at the then very tired and weathered house, 'Sleeping Beauty' as she's now fondly known. That love was the first emotion should perhaps not have been the least surprising, given the name of the farm! Astonishingly, Lievland and her grounds had lain dormant for nigh on a decade - almost unbelievably hiding in plain sight, unoccupied and unused - and although the challenges of restoring this beautiful hidden gem were significant, there really could not have been a finer partnership of loving persons to take on this responsibility.
Winemaker Riaan & Assistant Mahalia
Jose Conde and Tyrell Myburgh - the visionaries and enablers of some of my favourite wines on Earth from Stark-Condé, Kara Tara, MAN Family Wines, Essay Wines, and now Lievland - began the restoration. Although not finished yet, the process is in full swing, with Sleeping Beauty looking less Beast and more Beauty - to use another Disney analogy - day by day. More importantly for wine and winemaking, an extensive re-planting of the vineyard is also underway setting up the farm for decades of future success.
Lievland, which is Afrikaans for Loveland, is a historic farm with a long quirky history. The manor house dates back to 1865, and many a pioneering spirit have called it home through the years. The pursuit of winemaking has been a common thread, and each of these stories are woven into the rich history of the estate. Like the one about the legendary Baroness from Latvia, a widow with 5 children, who famously plowed the vineyards with a horse. Or the story of the same visionary woman who barrel-fermented a Chenin Blanc long before it became standard practice - in fact she may just be the first ever creator of certified barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc. Then there was the wine virtuoso who put Lievland on the map with an iconic Syrah that people still talk about today, one many regarded in the 20th century to be the finest example of Syrah in Stellenbosch! The most recent Lievland anecdote involves a tender story of a pair of horses who adopt a baby springbok; this bucolic scene of the mismatched animals grazing in the paddocks delighted visitors to the estate. This unusual love story became the inspiration for the Lievland wine labels.
Although the Lievland farm starts in as an immersion of history, of Baroness Henrika von Stiernhjelm of Latvia, of extraordinary Syrah, of pioneer women winemaking, of hand ploughing nearly 175 acres of vineyard, of barrel fermented chenin, and of the awkward love of a horse's adoption of a springbok. There's more, so much more.
Lievland's recent vintage of their iconic Liefkoos Rosé received nothing short of adoring reviews. With South Africa's eminent wine expert, Tim Atkin showering 91 points out of a 100 on it, wondering "is this the Whispering Angel of South Africa? It certainly looks the part."
"Marrying Syrah and 30% Mourvèdre, it's a pale, floral, rose petal scented pink with a hint of subtle reduction, cranberry and raspberry fruit and a dry finish."
SA Wine Magazine rated their Chenin Blanc - the iconic, barrel fermentation - as top 20 in the country for 2020, making it easily a top 40 in the world. Decanter Magazine went still further, awarding their Pinotage 91 points out of 100 as well. More incredibly, of their entire portfolio not one of their wines achieved less than 89/100 from a reputed wine body.
Assistant Winemaker Mahalia
So where next for this beautiful, iconic farm nestled within the Simonsberg 'Golden Mile' a horseshoe-shaped valley on the northwestern slope of the Simonsberg mountain famous for continuous excellence? Wine Review Online further writes:
They are also very smartly styled, by which I mean that they could be poured with pride by dinner hosts or ordered off a restaurant menu for a group including novices as well as serious wine lovers, with the former not being put off by anything too challenging, and the latter not disappointed by wines that seem even a little dumbed-down. A wine of place, in addition to a wine of very high quality. But there’s more [to their Cabernet Sauvignon] On the palate, this [wine] shows a high ratio of flavour to weight, and also a high ratio of fruit to tannin, but with enough weight and tannin that the aforementioned “serious wine lovers” will get everything they want out of a glass of this. Caterers and restaurateurs, take note"
We took note. Then we tasted. Then we fell in love.
If you do anything this year that relates to wine. Click Here and fall in love, too.