Located in the hills outside the town of Stellenbosch, Mulderbosch is one of the best regarded producers of white grape varieties in South Africa - although, with forays into red, dessert and a fascinating Cabernet Sauvignon rosé, the winery’s expertise is certainly not limited to white wines.
The Mulderbosch vineyards are found in the Koelenhof area of Stellenbosch. The Cape Winelands already have an almost Mediterranean climate, with dramatic temperature changes between winter and summer, day and night, and gentle sea breezes. The periods of cooling help preserve acidity and aromatics. Koelenhof has an additional wind tunnel effect, which increases the cooling of the vines during long, hot summers.
However, it was only recently that this perfect parcel of South Africa was put to its proper use - a surprise, given that Stellenbosch is the second oldest European settlement in the country and wine has been produced here since the 17th century. In 1989, a dilapidated farm was purchased and renovated. Only then were vines planted, and the first vintage (the 1992) was released in 1994. In the 1990s, they quickly gained a glowing reputation for Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, with South Africa’s leading wine guide, Platter’s, describing it as the country’s most celebrated Sauvignon Blanc.Under Mason, however, Chenin Blanc has become Mulderbosch’s flagship wine. This grape - the Cape’s signature variety - probably more than any other, bears out the vineyard’s current philosophy: maintaining its original ethos of quality over quantity, but now pushing the frontiers of winemaking and viticulture alike. The single-varietal wine maintains great acidity and succulence on the palate, but Mason takes things further with a collection of single vineyard releases, which explore the different nuances of Chenin Blanc
Mulderbosch has acquired vineyards in Franschhoek and elsewhere across the Cape Winelands and, thanks to these, has a second label, Faithful Hound, producing Bordeaux-style blends, which the terroir lends itself to. The white is the traditional marriage of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, while the red is a more orgiastic mingling of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Push the boundaries, Mulderbosch wine may, but it does not pressurise the environment. It is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, which aims to conserve marginal habitats overlapping the Cape’s vineyard footprint. James Sodom and his team have introduced cover-cropping to preserve and increase topsoil condition, and the entire grape production is returned to the land as compost. So the emphasis on quality would appear to be guaranteed for future generations too.