Stellenbosch, South Africa
See Lievland wines we sell
Lievland’s history dates back to 1715, when the original farm was granted to the ex-soldier Jurie Hanekom. Lievland lies on the western slopes of the Simonsberg mountains between Stellenbosch and Paarl, two of the most prominent wine-growing areas in the Cape.
The climate, location, and soil on the slopes are conducive to the cultivation of high-quality grapes, and some of the Cape’s best-known wines are made here. Lievland is all about "the here and now", and their wines are made in a generous fruit-forward, well-extracted style. Owner Paul Benade doesn’t believe in holding wine back in order to win awards, and arrogantly adds that consumers who seek quality will in time ferret out the gems Lievland produces. Given the stature of their neighbors, including Kanonkop and Warwick, it’s easy to see that their confidence is founded in the belief that they have some of the best land in South Africa.
The Benade family bought the farm in 1973, and the vineyards have since been re-established with quality grape varieties. Paul Benade became the sole owner of Lievland in 1986 and following the arrival of the previous winemaker, Abe Beukes, in 1987, Lievland won some 18 gold medals at prestigious local and international wine shows. Lievland boasts one of the few underground maturation and storage cellars in the Cape, where their wines are matured under optimum conditions. These fine wines can be tasted in the gabled tasting center, which dates back to 1823.
The present winemaker, James Farquharson, produces an assortment of wines on the 67-hectare property that is planted 65% to red grapes. Paul, a Cape Wine Master himself, is a huge fan of German dessert wines, and since he inherited some Riesling fruit on the farm, he though he’d take a stab at making a few different styles. By far his favorite is his most controversial, a back room Eiswein. Because it does not get cold enough for nature to freeze the grapes, he freezes the juice instead – twice. The result is remarkable despite the volume reduction of 5 times. Unfortunately the powers that be don’t recognize this method of production as being authentic, and have forbidden him from marketing the wine.
Lievland’s favored grape is Shiraz because of its early accessibility and inherent food compatibility. They have been exploring French tricks of the trade, such as the addition of Viognier – the white Rhone grape – to premium Shiraz. Some of the first Viognier vines in South Africa were planted at Lievland and they are working on the right recipe. Their Shiraz is always a huge hit – typically with high alcohol, and huge gobs of fruit. Yields are kept low on purpose, and extended maceration ensures a deep, intoxicating color.
DVB is their Bordeaux blend named after initials of Paul’s father. It is a serious contender for cult-wine status and one that pays the rent handsomely in the cellar.
Their least expensive red is called Lievlander, and is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. For 5 years it has been one of South Africa’s best value-for-money red wines.
Their Noble Late Harvest Reserve, which is only made in selected vintages, is a stunner. It has an incredibly bright fruit core with delicious bracing acidity. Move fast when you find it, because this one never lasts.
When asked about oak, they’ll tell you that they’re disappointed with the results of American oak, and have shifted away in favor of the tighter grained French alternative. "We really weren’t happy with the abundant sweetness it brought to the wine – we want fruit sweetness instead." And so they started to harvest later and have been picking between 24 and 25 brix. When asked what they’re looking for in their wines, they’ll remark as if in one voice, "The color purple and the smell of violets and pepper."
Lievland is a wine estate that’s quietly winning acclaim because of attention to detail and focus on maintaining smaller volumes, which will see them at the forefront of the industry for years to come. They have decided to remain an estate and only to use their own fruit, speaking out in protest against those that do otherwise. "The challenge lies in making the best of the hand which you are dealt," says Paul. And make it they do.