Wine, dine and stay over on the Bot River wine route

Posted on 2 September 2019

There’s a little tap dance duo happening in Bot River. Genevieve MCC and Luddite have new wines out and it’s all glitter and sparklers. Now, the twain may be boutique and refreshing, but make no mistake: they produce big wines and are even bigger ambassadors for Bot River, their home.

Melissa Nelson (Genevieve MCC) and Luddite’s Niels, Alice and Penny Verburg. Image supplied.

From their respective toil, taking centre stage are a litty-bitty baby Shiraz with the DNA of a champ; a brand spanking new Shiraz from the country’s finest vintage of late; and, a very special bubbly only made in truly exceptional years.

All three are perfect reflections of the Bot River credo: “real wine made by real people”, an attraction to lovers of the road less travelled.

  • The Genevieve MCC 2015 Zero Dosage, a bubbly with grand finesse and subtle aromas of minerality and white fruit. It has a refreshing linear palate and clean finish.
  • the It’s a Shiraz 2017, a wine made by Alice Verburg, daughter of Luddite owners Niels and Penny Verburg. The wine is light purple in colour with tones of violet. On the nose, it has spice, vibrant dark fruit and a hint of sweet cinnamon. The palate is balanced, showing juicy red fruit with more spice and a smooth, long tannic finish.
  • Niels’ own Luddite Shiraz 2015, a dark, cherry-coloured wine with a nose of spice and scrubland, cloves and dark cherry fruit. On the palate, it’s fresh, dry and spicy with dark fruit and cinnamon sticks. There’s hay, leaves and liquorice on the mid-palate with a refreshing, long, dry finish.

More about Luddite and the wines

Image supplied

Luddite began life in 2000 with the acquisition of a small 17ha farm after Niels and Penny Verburg saw the potential for Shiraz in Bot River, on the wild slopes of the Houw Hoek mountains. The Verburgs produced their first Shiraz in the same year, and by 2004, the first vintage containing the farm’s own grapes.

‘Luddite’ was the name given to 19th-century workmen who destroyed labour-saving machinery. By now, Shiraz-lovers understand that the name suits Penny and Niels’ focus on artisanal passion and excellence rather than wine mechanisation.

In a short time, Luddite has established itself as a producer of great wines made with integrity and minimal interference – a foundation into which Alice stepped into, to work alongside her father in 2017.

“The wines have benefitted from a feminine touch”, says Niels.

Alice Verburg and her first wine – ‘It’s a Shiraz’. Image: Gabrielle Jacobs.

Alice says It’s a Shiraz 2017 was a deliberate attempt to break away from the “seriousness and snobbiness” of wine. “It’s an experimental wine for me. I made the decision to make it on the morning the grapes came in – after all, I’d picked up plenty of ideas just watching my dad.”

After vinification the wine spent a year in barrel and another in bottle prior to release.”It’s suitable to drink now, but I want to make wines that age,” says Alice.

Her father’s latest wine, the Luddite Shiraz 2015 stems from a harvest that signalled the start of a long, dry spell in the Western Cape. The heat and dryness at the end of the season yielded Luddite’s smallest vintage yet, at 2.3 tons/ha. A benefit of the smaller crop, says Niels, is the “unbelievable fruit intensity”.  Various wood combinations were part of the process that led to this excellent wine.

Both, Alice’s It’s a Shiraz 2017 (R200/bottle) and the Luddite Shiraz 2015 (R600), can be enjoyed with slow roasted lamb, steak and spicy ratatouille.

Image: Gabrielle Jacobs

Luddite Wines is open for tastings on weekdays from 9am to 4pm and by appointment on weekends. Contact the farm on 0282849308 or send email to [email protected].

The tale of Genevieve MCC

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Genevieve MCC on Klein Botrivier Farm. Image supplied.

Melissa Nelsen had always had a love for bubbly and when the opportunity arose to make it, she jumped. Genevieve is her second name and the patron saint of Paris, making Genevieve MCC the perfect link between great South African MCC made in the style of French Champagne.

The first Genevieve MCC was released in 2010, a product of the 2008 vintage.

“The initial decision on how much to make on a maiden vintage was decided in a very basic way,” says Melissa. “Make more than we can drink ourselves and friends so I’d be forced to go sell the rest!” The result was 5,000 bottles – “Quite a lot more than we could drink ourselves!”

There are two cornerstones to her wine: that only a healthy vineyard can produce quality; and, that maturation is essential to adding texture.

Right: Melissa Nelsen with the Genevieve Zero Dosage. Images supplied.

In 2017 the wines found a home when Melissa discovered a working farm where her dream for a space to give visitors the “MCC experience” became a reality. Today, there are self-catering cottages alongside the vineyards and a renovated barn where visitors can enjoy the Genevieve MCC and take in the Overberg air.

Melissa’s latest release is the Genevieve MCC Zero Dosage, which is only produced when the vineyards show exceptional quality. The year 2015 was such a vintage and was selected as only the second release of the Zero Dosage extension.

“The aim is to show the purest expression of terroir and the cap classique quality without any added dosage, traditionally, the topping up of wine and addition of sucrose.”

Genevieve MCC Zero Dosage (retails from R275/bottle) can be enjoyed with dishes such as chilled peach soup, mushroom soufflé, butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sage, and lime and hazelnut macaroons.

View from Peacock Cottage. Image: Gabrielle Jacobs.

Stay over at Eagle Owl Cottage from R1,150 for two sharing, and Peacock Cottage from R1,300 for two sharing.

Genevieve MCC is open by appointment. Contact Melissa on [email protected].


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