Excelsior has over 30 vineyard blocks which vary in size from 4 to 20 hectares. Each has its own soil and microclimate – a set of special characteristics which combine geography, geology and climate and the interaction of the plant’s genetics to be expressed in the wine – it’s what the French refer to as ‘terroir’.
Each block is named – often referring to its geography, such as Oorkant (Farside) Cabernet Sauvignon, “Die Brug” (The bridge) Sauvignon Blanc and Old Cellar Cabernet. Some have less obvious names like a 6 hectare block called “Tarocco Sauvignon Blanc” – a reference to a type of Blood Orange that was previously planted on the site.
The vineyard with the most interesting name is the “Mostertmeer Cabernet Sauvignon”. Translated literally from Afrikaans it means Mustard Lake, but that is not in fact what the name means at all; the previous owner of that piece of land was Serbie Mostert (Mustard) and he decided that this site was the perfect place to build a storage dam. The vineyard is over 9 hectares so it was to be a really enormous dam – what he needed all that water for is anyone’s guess. Mr Mostert bought equipment to do the job and started working day and night. He even hung a spot light from one of the trees so that he could work at night! After a year he bought a second bulldozer as the first had been literally worked into the ground. Two years later the dam building excercise had bankrupted him…and the dam was not even completed! We sometimes refer to the piece of land as Mostert’s Folly.
The de Wet family bought the farm and, for the next 40 years, it wasn’t used for much beyond being a dumping ground for vineyard poles and rocks. In 2008 we levelled the land in a week – thank goodness for modern equipment! – and set about planting a Cabernet vineyard.
The block has established itself very quickly as one of the three best quality cabernet blocks on Excelsior. The soil is very free draining limestone, which results in complex, concentrated wines with a strong floral quality.