South Africa, Stellenbosch

Simon van der Stel, the Dutch Governor, founded Stellenbosch in 1679, and vines have been planted in the Stellenbosch Hills since the early 1700’s. DeMorgenzon, meaning 'the morning sun', is so called because it is the first part of the Stellenboschkloof valley to see the sun due to its high altitude. It was originally a section of one of the oldest farms in South Africa, and today it is run by Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum, who bought the estate in 2003. The Appelbaums aim to produce wines that are a combination of New World-style fruit and Old World-style elegance. They have rather unique way of achieving this, by placing speakers in their vineyard and cellar and playing Baroque music to both their vines and their wines. Wendy previously had a high-flying career in the business world, she was director of Liberty Investors Limited as well as holding several other high-powered positions and being trustee to several South African charities. Hylton had an equally high-flying business career, but then became founder of Classic FM South Africa, this passion for music now extends to the viticulture - the vines are dotted with speakers that play continuous Baroque music to the vines, which they are sure adds and improves plant growth and help - not to mention the souls of the vineyard team!

Wendy and Hylton Applebaum famously play piped baroque music through loudspeakers in their vineyards, which may help to explain the rapidly increasing quality of their wines. But surely more significant are the brilliance of young winemaker Carl van der Merwe (who arrived in 2010) and the move towards greater concentration on the white grapes to which their soils are best suited. The Chenin, the Chardonnay and a Mediterranean blend called Maestro are all equally delicious in 2015. Recent plantings will increase future volumes. Decanter Magazine  (Oct 2016)

Two years ago, the 2012 vintage of this wine (Maestro White) won the South African Regional Trophy for Best White Blend under £15 - and now DeMorgenzon's Maestro 2014 has gone one better and taken an International Trophy home to Stellenbosch. In doing so, it beat two French rivals, one from Languedoc and the other from Gaillac. What's the secret? It might be the eclectic mix of grape varieties, or the 10 month's ageing in small French oak barrels and cement eggs. Vineyard location may also play its part. DeMorgenzon translates as 'morning sun', and the estate's grapes catch the first rays of the day in the Stellenboschkloof valley, vines covering the top southern and eastern slopes of Ribbokkop, overlooking the distinctive peak of Kanonkop. DeMorgenzon's high-altitude hinterland can be challenging for vine-growing, such is the steepness of the slopes, but the pay-off is a variety of microclimates. This facilitates the growing of an array of grape varieties, thus increasing the blending options open to winemaker Carl van der Merwe. But perhaps the true secret of DeMorgenzon's success lies in music - from which this Trophy-winner takes its name. Vines and maturing wines alike have baroque music constantly playing in the background, thanks to speakers strategically positioned in the vineyard and cellar. Owners Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum admit that 'not much scientific investigation' has been undertaken to calculate the benefits of this tuneful accompaniment, but it certainly seems to be working so far. Decanter World Wine Awards 2015  (Jul 2015)