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MICHAEL GREENíS WINE NOTES #179 (article first published : 2007-08-4)

Middelvlei, the long-established wine estate in Devon Valley, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, is very much a family concern. It has been owned by the Momberg family for the past 88 years, its wine labels carry the words Momberg Familie, and its latest red wine, Red Falcon, derives its name from the symbol on the family crest, a rather aristocratic-looking falcon with a crown on its head.

The head of the family is Stiljan Momberg, Silent Jan, so named because he is a decidedly taciturn (though very amiable) character. He took sole ownership of the farm in 1963, but these days his sons run the show. Tinnie is the winemaker and Ben the viticulturist (the man who looks after the vines), and Jeanneret, Benís wife, is in charge of international and local marketing.

Middelvlei, which has 130 hectares under vines, is best known for its red wines (though it makes a good chardonnay) and was a pioneer of pinotage. It now produces about 35 000 cases of wine a year, 90 percent of it red.

The new Red Falcon, a 2005 vintage, is a 60-40 blend of merlot and shiraz, the mellowness of the merlot softening and complementing the more robust shiraz. The result is a delightfully drinkable wine with berry and cherry flavours. The wine was wood-matured and has a not too aggressive alcohol content of 13,5 percent. It would go well with almost any food or by itself.

Not the least attractive aspect of Red Falcon is its price: about R35 a bottle, good value for a wine of this quality.

The Middelvlei estate is open for tastings and sales and for cellar tours and vineyard walks. And the family orientation extends to the animals that live on the farm. They include two donkeys named Port and Jerepigo and an assortment of dogs: the Blumenweilers Chianti and Rose, the Dachshunds Pinotage and Pongracz, Tinta the Great Dane and Pontac the Boerbul. All worth visiting. Phone 021 883 2565. Ė Michael Green




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