It’s lovely, at the end of a glorious dinner, to sit with a glass of great wine and tell a good story.
And does this Delheim Edelspatz Riesling – grand elder of South African Noble Late Harvest wines – have a story. It’s the wine that was almost never made, was regularly delivered to De Tuynhuys when Nelson Mandela held office as president, celebrated British wine authority Oz Clarke rated Delheim one of the best producers of dessert wine in the world, and is made from a single 35 year old Riesling vineyard. The almost-never-made story kicks off with the farm’s famous patriarch, the late Spatz Sperling, finding excessive rot in his grapes after a particularly rainy and cool period leading up to 1979 harvest, and wrote them off as basically useless material. Having nothing better to do than wallow in his sorrow, he went to collect the mail, bumped into fellow winemaker Frans Malan from Simonsig, and shared his mood. The response he received was unexpected. “No man, Spatz!” declared Frans. “Those are the best grapes for a noble late harvest.”
What had seemed to be a flop, turned out to be one of Delheim’s greatest treasures. Delheim Estate winemaker Roelof Lotriet says the rarity of this wine cannot be stressed enough, especially considering the decline in Riesling vineyards due to the difficulty in producing high-quality wine from them. He describes the newly released 2020 vintage Edelspatz as “showing classic botrytis characteristics with elements of honeysuckle, dried peaches and marmalade; finely balanced, the palate offers layers of bright fruit and orange blossom”, adding that the wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to 30 years. The wine sells for R330 and may be ordered directly from Delheim’s online store at delheim.com