Wine with heart

Wine with heart

Boplaas – the first port of call


Nicolette Waterford

By Nicolette Waterford

If you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me to name South Africa’s top Port producers, Boplaas would be number one on my list.
This family business has belonged to the Nel’s for more than 150 years. The farm is situated in Calitzdorp, a small village in the Little Karoo at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. The Nel’s are dedicated to producing authentic Cape fortified wines from traditional Portuguese varietals such as Tinta Barocca, Souzao and Touriga Nacional. This dedication is paying off as the wines receive recognition at both local and international wine competitions.

Even though they are best known for their Ports, the Boplaas team also produces taste-worthy table wines and award winning pot-stilled brandies. In fact Boplaas was the first estate in South Africa to release an Estate Brandy in 1994, and it was proudly served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration banquet.
The Boplaas distilling heritage dates back much further though, to 1880 when cellar master Carel Nel’s great-great grandfather exported his first consignment of fine Boplaas Brandy to England.

The Boplaas Brandies and Ports may warm one’s soul, but what warms my heart is the fact that the Nel’s truly care for the environment and Boplaas is one of South Africa’s leaders in the implementation of sustainable solutions to tackle climate change and reduce environmental damage.
The farm boasts a negative carbon footprint, meaning that the amount of carbon Boplaas produces through different activities is equalized by the succulents that grow on the 2223 hectares of land that the Nel’s own around Calitzdorp.

I recently reintroduced my very happy taste buds to three Boplaas beauties:
The Tinta Chocolat 2011, a red table wine made from Tinta Barocca and chosen as the best red table wine at the Cape Port and Wine Challenge. The wine received its name courtesy of the decadent dark chocolate flavours on the nose and on the palate.

It sells for R55 a bottle and goes down a treat with hearty winter stews.
The Boplaas Cape Ruby Non Vintage received a 4 Star rating in Platter’s 2012 wine guide and can be served as an aperitif, with desserts or mature cheeses. I was sipping mine while enjoying a curry and it worked beautifully.

I loved the upfront fruit in the Cape Ruby and it is a steal at R55 per bottle. Ruby Port is the most basic of port styles. This is usually made from a blend of red grape varieties and is blended from several years, therefore there will be no vintage on the label. It is not meant to be aged, and tends to taste of sweet berries.
The Boplaas Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2007 is a 5 Star Platter wine guide stunner and is definitely a “keeper”. Inky black and with an ageing potential for decades it was made from a trio of specially selected low yielding Portuguese varietals. Barrel maturation in large oak barrels for 12 months added to the complexity of this full-bodied, structured Cape Vintage Reserve.

If you are impatient (like me) I would suggest decanting the wine before serving. Alternatively this is one to keep for the next generation. Vintage Port is the high end of port releases.
Only the best years are declared a vintage and used for this purpose. All the grapes from a single harvest are used in a given wine.  Therefore a 2007 Vintage Port is only made from grapes from the 2007 harvest.  A Vintage Port is usually aged in oak and then meant to age further in the bottle.
Most of the Boplaas products are available nationwide from all fine retailers or from their cellar door in Calitzdorp.

* For more information on Boplaas, or to purchase the wines online visit, or call them on 044 -2133326.