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About our Wine 

 

"It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine or any other reason." Latin Proverb

 

Background 

In 2006, the current owner purchased the 45 Ha farm in the historic Bovlei valley, ten minutes from the town of Wellington, and under an hour’s drive from Cape Town. 

The farm was initially proclaimed in 1699 and are only the sixth family since then to hold title. Sadly the farm had been in a steady decline for many years and they arrived to a semi-derelict fruit farm with tremendous soil potential, deep cultural significance and outstanding panoramic views. It was decided to christen the farm Val du Charron as a tribute to this rich background – Val du Charron or Valley of the Wagon maker was the original name of the Wellington valley. The French influence stems from the Huguenots who settled in the area in the early 1700’s while the reference to wagon making refers to the fact that Wellington was the last town where the Afrikaner’s ox wagons could be serviced before heading over the majestic Bainskloof into the then unknown hinterland. 

Thus began a ten-year rehabilitation of the historical buildings, planting of the vineyards and olive groves and finally the re-establishment of the wine making tradition on the farm. In 2012, Val du Charron itself became an Estate i.e. all wines under the Val du Charron labels are bottled, produced and come from vines grown on the farm itself; thus giving a pure expression of the terroir to be found on Val du Charron’s southerly facing slopes. 

 

Summary of Plantings 

Hectares under vine  21.3 
 Number of varietals 16 
Main plantings Shiraz, Chardonnay 
Cellar capacity  400 ton 
Red & White Varietal Split  60% red | 40% white 

 

Products

Click here to view our Wine List

 

Val du Charron Reserve Collection

Chardonnay

Pinot Gris

Shiraz (Syrah)

Carbernet Sauvignon

Theatre of Wine

 

Four White Legs 

 

Erasmus

 

Black Countess

 

Aphaea

 

 

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Our Philosophy 

Val du Charron is one of the most beautiful farms against the hills in the Bovlei valley. Not only does the sheer beauty blow you away, but also the huge potential of our natural resources ... all the vineyards are on southern facing slopes, rich red soils and a whole bouquet of varietals, 16 to be exact, from Merlot to Touriga Nacional, from thirty-year-old Chenin blanc to Pinot Gris. Why so many different cultivars?

We strongly believe in blending! We have a continental climate, just like the very well known great wine-producing areas of the world - Rhône valley, Dao, Rioja and many others. These different varietals have different, yet very unique qualities and if put together, produces a composition which is more complex, richer, finer, more finessed and more unique than any cultivar on its own.

We frequently quote Fabrice Langlois, winemaker of Chateau Beaucastel and a very good friend: "A blend is much like a symphony orchestra where you have all the various sections ... the crisp woodwinds, the solid brass instruments, the rhythmic percussion and the elegant strings … on their own they are instruments, but together under the hand of the conductor, a symphony." 

 

About our Winemaker 

Paul Engelbrecht 

The Greeks said: “Eat, drink and be merry”. Well, I never felt any inclination towards becoming either a Gourmet Chef, or a Comedian, so that left booze.

In reality it just kind of happened. Becoming a Winemaker wasn’t a childhood dream. I only developed in interest in the Wine Industry during my studies in Food Technology. My goal was to become a Lab Analyst in a Wine Lab and I have a fair amount of experience in this. But luckily I ended up in production very early in my career. In the middle I took a break from Winemaking and tried my hand at other things. I realised that, at heart, I am a Winemaker. Now I’m back with renewed enthusiasm, and hopefully, a little more wisdom. 

Winemaking is not all that glamorous. There are truckloads of paperwork, it can be quite messy, have long hours and be very stressful. So what makes it worth it? For me it is the challenge of taking a raw material and turning it into a beautiful product. It is tasting through the barrels and finding that one really special one. It is making up a blend, tweaking the balance and seeing it all come together. It is the variety of different tasks that have to be performed through the year. 

 

My Philosophy

Team Work: I have heard it said that a good wine is made in the Vineyard and the Winery is simply a processing plant. I beg to differ. Good Grapes are grown in the Vineyard. Good Wine is made in the cellar. An excellent Wine is not made by an individual. It is produced through a concerted effort by the team in the vineyards to produce top quality grapes and a concerted effort by the team in the cellar to turn those grapes into an excellent wine. Thereafter a concerted effort is required from the Sales & Marketing Team to sell the wine. The cliché that a good wine sells itself is an extremely naïve statement. If all three teams do their jobs right, and work together as part of the greater team, the result is a successful winery. A Great Wine is the result of a Team effort. 

 

Humility, flexibility and precision: Right at the beginning of my career one of my mentors, Loftie Ellis, made a statement that has remained with me to this day.  

“There are two kinds of Winemaker. There are good Winemakers and then there are recipe Winemakers.” 

A recipe Winemaker can be expected to bring out the realistic potential of the grapes. He or she will make a poor wine from poor grapes and an excellent Wine from excellent grapes. A good Winemaker will adjust his or her methods according to the condition of the grapes, and should be able to make an average wine from poor grapes and something truly special from excellent grapes. A good Winemaker will also be more consistent from vintage to vintage.

Some years later I had the privilege of working with Giorgio dalla Cia. On the first day we met he told me the following: 

  1. If you want to be a good Winemaker, always stay humble. There are too many Winemakers who are “Prima Donnas”. 
  2. Don’t be a Cowboy. Do the right thing at the right time. Don’t Postpone making necessary additions. 

This is very true. If you become over confident in your abilities you could easily assume everything will go right, because you’re so very good at what you do. We are working with a natural raw material that is influenced by the weather conditions. This can differ quite a bit from one year to the next. You have to be involved in the vineyards, checking the ripening and grape condition frequently. Similarly, you cannot become complacent in the Winery. You have to check the wines in tank and in barrel frequently. Things can go wrong very easily. Paranoia could very well be a positive trait in a Winemaker. 

 

Science vs Art: I have often heard that a Winemaker should be passionate over Winemaking. I believe that should apply to any job, whether you are a street sweeper or a neuro surgeon. I don’t see it as a trait limited to Winemakers or Artists. Passion is a drive to excel at what you do. I have never made a wine that I felt completely satisfied with, and I hope I never do.  

Oh, and Winemakers are really artists. This is not necessarily true. The process of making Wine, if you follow recipes, is really very basic Science. But if you modify your methods according to grape condition, then it starts to move towards artistry. But the real art in Winemaking is blending. You cannot learn it in a book. You either have a knack for it, or you develop it through experience. 

I believe in spending a lot of time in blending trails and thereafter in trails with acidity, sugar and fining. The goal is to create balance. A great wine is a wine that is balanced in terms of Sugar, Acidity, Tannin, Wood, etc. This is again a skill that is developed with experience and leans more towards “Art” than Science. 

 

Our Accolades 

2011: Michelangelo International Wine Awards – Black Countess 2010 – Gold

2013: South African Premier Business Awards – Finalist – Exporter of the Year 

2013: Top 100 SA Wines – Chardonnay 2012 – Top 100 and Best Value Wine 

2013: Decanter World wine Awards – Chardonnay 2012 and Four White Legs 2012– Commended 

2013: Old Mutual Trophy Wine – Four White Legs 2012- Silver 

2013: Michelangelo International Wine Awards – Erasmus 2011 – Silver 

2013: Michelangelo International Wine Awards – Chardonnay 2012 – Gran d’Or 

2013: Veritas Awards – Black Countess 2011 – Bronze 

2014: Veritas Awards – Shiraz 2012 – Silver 

2014: IWSC – Black Countess 2011 – Bronze 

2015: Drinks international – The Theatre of Wine - Most Innovative Tourism Experience in the World 

2016: Cape White Blend Challenge- 91 points –Four White Legs 2015 

2016: HKIWSC – Black Countess 2013 - Gold – Syrah 2013 – Silver – Pinot Gris 2014 -Bronze 

 

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Val du Charron

Nestling at the foot of the Groenberg mountain, the town of Wellington lies in the picturesque Bovlei valley on the banks of the Kromme River.

Flights between Cape Town and Windhoek, Upington, George, Kimberly, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Pretoria, Maun 

Accommodation 

Email: stay@vdcwines.com 

Tel: 021 873 1256

Contact us

Email: sales@vdcwines.com

Tel: 021 873 1256

Postal Address

PO Box 890, Wellington, 7654, South Africa 

© Val Du Charron Wines (Pty)Ltd.