A TRIBUTE TO THE MELCK FAMILY LEGACY AT MURATIE ESTATE
(Media release) Where Every Wine Tells a Story
Every wine tells a story… This is the motto at Muratie, the historic estate tucked away in the beautiful Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch, in the premium Simonsberg wine ward. Established in 1685, Muratie is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, rich in history and heritage. And with this age comes a myriad fascinating tales of the many extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past, all of which have been proudly commemorated in the naming and labelling of Muratie’s wines. And what fascinating tales the Muratie range of wines tell. But it is the Melck family, current custodians of Muratie, whose name and stories have been inextricably linked with Muratie dating all the way back to the 1700’s. This esteemed legacy spanning 167 years to date is recalled when you sip on Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon and Muratie Ronnie Melck Shiraz.
THE MELCK FAMILY Martin Melck: The Melck family story began in 1763 when a fiery Prussian, Martin Melck, patriarch of the Melck clan in South Africa and one of the Cape’s greatest landowners and most influential stock-and wine-farmers, bought De Driesprong (Muratie) for his daughter, Anna Catharina (Beyers). A major player in the wine and brandy industries over 20 years. he already owned Elsenburg, Uitkyk and Knorhoek at the time he bought Muratie. He is also acclaimed for building the first Lutheran Church and neighbouring parsonage, known as Martin Melck House, in Strand Street, Cape Town – both Cape Provincial Heritage sites.”
After Martin’s death in 1781, the farm passed to his daughter and her husband, Jan David Beyers, and remained in the Melck-Beyers family until 1897 (a total of 134 years). It was Martin’s grandson Jan Andries Beyers who built the gracious Muratie manor house. Ronnie Melck: Amazingly, almost 100 years later, the historic estate rightfully returned to the Melck family when Ronnie Melck, South African wine industry legend and direct descendant of Martin Melck, purchased Muratie in 1987, fulfilling a lifelong passion. Ronnie’s whole life had been steeped in wine. As a leading figure in the South African wine industry from the 50’s to the 80’s, he helped change the face of wine in South Africa, pioneering wine styles and revolutionising brand positioning. A larger-than-life personality with an incredibly finely tuned palate and boundless passion for wine, Ronnie had nurtured a 30-year-long dream of owning Muratie. He first came across the enchanting historic estate and its charismatic owner, George Canitz, as a student buying wine for his ‘koshuis’ dance. After George’s death, he visited George’s daughter, Annemie Canitz, on many occasions to procure her much sought-after grapes for Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (the country’s largest wine and spirit company at the time). As a red wine connoisseur, Ronnie knew the potential of the Knorhoek/Simonsberg area, especially for red Bordeaux grape varieties. Annemie was so taken with Ronnie that 37 years later, at the advanced age of 87 and having no descendants, it was Ronnie she phoned to offer him Muratie. With Ronnie being a direct descendant of the legendary Martin Melck, she knew her beloved Muratie would be in the right hands, and how right she was.
Ronnie knew his ‘piece of heaven on earth’ was destined for great things and set to work to realise his dreams. He initiated the redevelopment of Muratie, including a vineyard replanting programme. Tragically Ronnie’s untimely passing in September 1995 came too soon for him to fulfil his vision for Muratie. His ardent belief in the huge potential of Muratie was endorsed just before his death, when Muratie’s 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded the Jan Smuts Trophy for best wine on that year’s Young Wine Show. Ronnie was no stranger to awards and accolades, but he rated this prestigious award as ‘the supremo; the greatest award of a lifetime.’ Ronnie is the only owner whose remains rest on Muratie, under the trees on the highest part of the farm. There could be no more fitting epitaph than these words by his son Rijk: “Knorhoek gained its name from the roaring of the lions. The old rogue lion found his place in the valley.” The Melck Family Today Ronnie left Muratie in trust to his very capable family - his wife Annatjie, his two sons, Rijk and Anton, and his daughters Annelise and Charla. Rijk gave up his medical practice in Stellenbosch to take stewardship of Muratie - to maintain the Melck family tradition and take the estate to new heights. Passionate guardians of Muratie's prized heritage, the family is committed to preserving the essence of a bygone era – upholding the age-old traditions of the farm, safeguarding the historic buildings, relics and memoirs, and acknowledging all those who came before. On arrival at Muratie, one of the first things you come across is a gabled memorial celebrating all the previous owners through the decades. All the Muratie wines have been named after these remarkable characters, each wine with its own enchanting story described on the back label.
PAYING HOMAGE TO MURATIE’S MELCK ANCESTORS “We have paid homage to our Melck ancestors, who made it possible for our family to be entrusted with continuing the Muratie tradition, by dedicating some of our very best wines to them. Our legendary forefather, Martin Melck, established Muratie’s Melck legacy in the 1700’s, and my father Ronnie, a seventh-generation direct descendant of Martin Melck, dared to dream and turned a dream into reality when he brought Muratie back into the Melck fold in 1987”, says Rijk Melck. MURATIE’S MARTIN MELCK WINES Rijk continues, “We honoured Martin Melck, a man of faith, hope and charity by naming both our Cabernet Sauvignons after him. Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2015
In special years, certain barrels of Muratie’s Cabernet Sauvignon are so exceptional in terms of their fruit intensity, structure and balance, that they are held back and bottled separately as a super-premium icon Cabernet Sauvignon. The Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2015 was sourced from a single site-specific vineyard planted in 2006, earmarked due to its unique location at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. The grapes were handpicked, yielding only 6 tons per hectare. The bunches were destalked and the berries hand-sorted, prior to being crushed and pumped into old concrete open fermenters and matured in 80% new French Oak for 22 months. The Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2015 introduces itself with a beautiful, intense ruby-red colour in the glass. In this opulent yet polished wine the blackberries, currants and plums are almost Crème de Cassis-like in their intensity; the oak integration is seamless while imparting an exotic spice perfume. Even after the last sip, this red wine with its lingering finish will be remembered for a long time. This is a wine of great finesse and balance, true to its Simonsberg origin, with an exceptional ageing potential of at least another 10 years. The Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve 2016 is only available at the estate or online at https://www.muratie.co.za/wine/buy-wine/ Retail price: R460 per bottle. Accolades: 4½ stars in Platter’s 2020 SA Wine Guide Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
The Muratie Cabernet Sauvignon was made from two different blocks on the estate, planted in 1998 and 2011. The grapes were hand-picked, yielding 6 tons per hectare. They were then sorted, crushed, destalked, pumped into stainless steel tanks for fermentation and matured in 10% new French Oak for 20 months.
Classically styled and restrained, concentrated dark fruit (black cherries, berries and plums) are underscored by fresh acidity, and framed by cedar wood and spice notes from 20 months in French oak (10% new). This is a full-bodied and complex wine, a wine of integration, balance and great length true to its terroir. This authoritative wine will reward cellaring for at least another 6 years.
Muratie Martin Melck Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is available at the estate, online at https://www.muratie.co.za/wine/buy-wine/ and at select fine wine merchants around the country.
Approximate retail price: R200 per bottle.
Accolades: 4½ stars in Platter’s 2020 SA Wine Guide
MURATIE’S RONNIE MELCK WINES
“My Dad was a lover of all wine, especially red wine. Whenever he was asked what his favourite wine was, he would answer ‘The wine in my glass’. Very often the wine in his glass happened to be a Shiraz, so we have dedicated both our Shiraz wines to him”, says Rijk.
Muratie Ronnie Melck Syrah Family Selection 2015/2016
“25 Years ago, when my father passed away, we made a super-premium icon wine in his memory, the Ronnie Melck Syrah Family Selection,” continues Rijk. “Produced from a very old, low-yielding vineyard (2 tonnes per hectare), planted in 1977, this robust statement wine is produced in extremely limited amounts (only 2200 bottles). Made in traditional open fermenters and matured for 16 months in 100% new French oak, each bottle is individually numbered. The wine is expressive, intriguing and unharnessed just like my father, and his face is on the label.” This new-vintage release is a wine displaying the bold refinement reminiscent of a Northern Rhône Syrah. Rich concentrated blackberries, red currants and cherries burst onto the palate, while hints of black olive, pepper, smoke and bacon add savoury appeal. Tannins are firm but fine grained and a very long finish promises great ageing potential. Muratie Ronnie Melck Syrah Family Selection is only available at the estate or online at https://www.muratie.co.za/wine/buy-wine/ Retail price: R530 per bottle. Muratie Ronnie Melck Shiraz 2016
Rijk continues: “Some years later, when our newer Shiraz plantings had come of age, we renamed our Muratie Shiraz Ronnie Melck Shiraz. The vines were younger, and we used mostly 2nd and 3rd fill French oak to create an accessible, soft and voluptuous wine. In the words of my late father, Muratie wines are ‘humble, honest and full of integrity, with quality being the only answer’. The Ronnie Melck Shiraz certainly delivers on all those fronts”. The recently released 2016 vintage is the most elegant vintage to date. The shiraz grapes (together with 3% grenache for added liveliness) were gently pressed in a brand new state-of-the-art Wilmes bag press from Germany. Some whole bunches (10%) and some stalks were included for additional complexity. Only 10% new French oak was used. It is an intensely red wine with a violet edge, offering rich floral and berry notes with hints of green peppercorns and gamey nuances, supported by a sweet spiciness with a vanilla, crème brûlée aftertaste. Muratie Ronnie Melck Shiraz 2016 is available at the estate, online at https://www.muratie.co.za/wine/buy-wine/ and at select fine wine merchants around the country. Approximate retail price: R190 per bottle. MURATIE TODAY – THE LEGACY OF THE CURRENT MELCK CLAN MAINTAINING TRADITIONS AND TAKING THE ESTATE TO NEW HEIGHTS One of the Most Authentic Treasures of the Cape Winelands Thanks to the guardianship of the current Melck clan, a visit to Muratie today reveals a piece of history where time has largely stood still, where the unique old-world ambience is almost tangible. From the cobwebs that hug the tartaric textured walls in the tasting room to the antique winemaking equipment and the memoirs and belongings of previous owners, every corner exudes a sense of time gone by.
Old Winemaking Traditions - New World-Class Wine This revival and preservation of heritage extends to the Muratie wines as well, with commemorative names for the range of wines and the respect for age-old traditions in the vineyards and the 200-year-old gabled cellar. Grapes are still hand-picked and hand-sorted to select only the best. The Muratie wines are made as naturally and traditionally as possible, with natural ferment and the use of old concrete open fermentation tanks. Maximising Muratie’s privileged position on the famous Simonsberg mountainous belt has seen major investment in the cellar, with a focus on soft handling of grapes, and extensive progress in the vineyards. Under the creative hands of Rijk and winemaker Hattingh de Villiers and his team, Muratie has become a serious and respected player on the world wine stage, producing a range of highly acclaimed wines. “Each of our wines has its own personality,” says Rijk Melck. “Our flagship white and red blends are named Laurens Campher and Ansela van der Caab, honouring the first owner of Muratie and the remarkable love affair between him and the slave girl Ansela who eventually became his wife; George Paul Canitz, who made the first Pinot Noir is-in South Africa, is the name of our Pinot Noir; our Merlot is named after Canitz’s intrepid daughter, Alberta Annemarie,; our Lady Alice Cap Classique celebrates high society hostess, Lady Alice Stanford, who bought Muratie in 1909, and our Cape Vintage honours Muratie’s legendary barefoot winemaker, Ben Prins.” A Culture of Food at Muratie “There had been so many interesting characters shaping Muratie’s past, but when Ronnie and I moved into the Muratie Manor House it was our turn”, reminisces Annatjie. “We infused new life into the old homestead, establishing our culture of food and wine. There was hardly ever an empty seat at our immense dining room table. There would be music, the wine would flow, the kitchen would be a hive of activity, and the aroma of food would infuse the atmosphere of our Muratie home. Wonderful stories were told, and friends from all over the world were made”. Annatjie Melck, chatelaine of Muratie and a well-known Stellenbosch personality, is a true food person. Determined to uphold the food culture of Stellenbosch and the Winelands, she, together with like-minded friends, founded the Fynproewersgilde, the famous Stellenbosch Wine and Food Festival, and the iconic landmark, Oom Samie se Winkel, in Dorp Street. She also authored the highly acclaimed ‘Koljander’ where she showcases over 100 recipes interwoven with her life’s journey from the plains of the Great Karoo to Muratie. Muratie’s popular Farm Kitchen Restaurant embodies the Melck’s food and wine culture. Rijk’s wife, Kim, an accomplished cook, working closely with her mother-in-law Annatjie, oversees the preparation of this authentic farm lunch, using fresh ingredients from Muratie’s organic vegetable garden as well as specialty foods. Kim describes the Farm Kitchen as an extension of their home. “I have my apron on and Rijk pours the wine. We do it all and we hope for our guests that it is like being hosted in someone’s home, with warmth and friendliness.”
A Multitude of Lifestyle Offerings for Everyone The story of Muratie Wine Estate is reason enough to pay a visit to this historic farm, but there’s also an abundance of events and activities at the estate that keep visitors returning. In addition to wine tasting and the Farm Kitchen, Muratie offers wine and chocolate pairings, wine, food and music festivals for the whole family, amazing trails for mountain biking and trail running, exhibitions of contemporary culture at the MOK Gallery, accommodation in George Paul Canitz’s original art studio and event curation in an exquisite marquee or on their verdant terrace beneath the ancient oak trees.
THE NEXT MELCK GENERATION Muratie is first and foremost a family concern and will surely remain in family hands, with the youngest generation already imbued with the love and passion for wine and the land. Rijk and Kim’s daughters, Isabella and Catherine, help out in the tasting room, the restaurant and at the farm’s many popular events, and the estate’s Chardonnay was renamed Isabella in recognition of their eldest daughter. Watch this space for new Muratie wines celebrating the Melck family. SIP ON MURATIE WINES AND TASTE HISTORY FOR YOURSELF Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch · www.muratie.co.za 021 865 2330 · firstname.lastname@example.org @muratiewine Muratie Wine Farm