Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sustainable wines crafted as a finely-cut diamond
The Boustred family arrived at the Remhoogte estate in 1994 and has since developed a world-class wine range that brings out the full potential of the local terroir and vines. After a close collaboration with renowned French viticulturalist Michel Roland, Chris Boustred is now developing a low-intervention programme that has only made the Remhoogte wines even more true to their time and place.
Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Viticultural standards: members of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative and of the Integrated Production of Wine Scheme
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: ‘Free to Be’ Chenin Blanc
Interesting fact: Remhoogte is fully committed to sustainability, having set aside 30% of the estate and populated it with the Western Cape’s indigenous flora and fauna.
With deeds dating back to 1812, Remhoogte (Dutch for ‘Brake Heights’) is situated on the steep Southwestern slopes of the Simonsberg mountain in Stellenbosch. Spanning across 55 hectares, 25 of which under vine, the estate benefits from cooling winds blowing from False Bay, which make the steep south and southwest-facing clay soil slopes ideal growing areas for the prime quality fruit used for Remhoogte’s wines.
The Boustred family arrived at the estate in 1994, wanting to change their lives and invest their time, money and dedication in a wine venture. Juliet and Murray Boustred, settled with their two sons, Chris and Rod, and made Remhootge their home and shared project; the couple still leaves on the grounds, as do their children, now with their respective families. The sons are now at the helm of Remhoogte, Chris as winemaker and Rob as Marketing & Saled Director.
Chris took over winemaking responsibilities from his father in 2007, after graduating with a degree in viticulture and oenology from the Stellenbosch University. Building upon his father’s love for the estate and the work developed by consultant and former shareholder Michel Rolland, Chris brought more expressiveness and terroir awareness to Remhoogte’s winemaking programme. He applied the knowledge gathered during stints at iconic estates in Australia (Hartwell Vineyards, Margaret River), France (Chateau Fontenil, Pomerol, Bordeaux) and the United States (Stags Leap, Napa Valley, California) with an instinct for hands-off yet precise winemaking.
The complex Remhoogte soils are over 250 million years old, resulting in wines rich in character and with a powerful sense of place. The unique potential of the local terroir and microclimate to produce fruit suited for fine wine production determined Remhoogte’s success from its inception: first by selling grapes to the Rothschild wine interests in the Cape, then by attracting the interest of Rolland. Working alongside Murray between 2001 and 2008, the French viticulturalist established the estate’s reputation and gave the Boustreds the confidence to commit to the production of their own word-class range.
This confidence motivated Chris to buy Rolland out of his share in the cellar, allowing him to develop his own low intervention approach, trying to intervene as little as possible for the full and natural expression of the potential of the fruit. Everything in the vineyard, from pruning to harvesting, is done by hand. In the cellar only wild and naturally occurring yeasts are used for fermentation, the wines are not fined or filtered and only a small amount of SO2 is added prior to bottling. Chris says that his goal is to ‘facilitate the production’, rather than manufacture wine, allowing each bottle to unlock the experience of a specific time and place.
Each of Remhoogte’s wines tell a story of its place, grape variety(ies) and vintage. The estate is particularly renowned for its old Chenin Blanc plantings and the exquisite wines these produce, as well as for the elegant reds, poised expressions of both Bordeaux varieties and of the local Pinotage. The flagship red, Sir Thomas Cullinan, encapsulates a snippet of history in itself: it pays tribute to Chris and Rob’s great grandfather, who oversaw the discovery of one of the world’s largest diamonds in 1905. The exquisite blue diamond tipped the scales at 3,106 carats and would eventually be presented to King Edward VII by the South-African government as a token of loyalty after Britain granted the country its independence. The two largest cuttings from the Cullinan diamond, the Great Star of Africa (530.2 carats) and the Lesser Star of Africa (317 carats), remain as key features of the crown jewels: the Great Star of Africa is set in the Imperial Sceptre, while the Lesser Star adorns the Imperial State Crown.
Similarly, the grapes grown at Remhootge are the rough diamond from which a wine range full of elegance and character is finely cut, vintage on vintage.