Owner Alan Nelson's Wine Making Philosophy
"Since I acquired Nelson's Creek in 1987 the approach has been to strive for quality no matter the cost, from the preparation of the soil to the final product. Each block of soil on the farm has been scientifically analysed and deep-ripped with a D8 bulldozer to a depth of 1,4 meters for maximum root penetration. Vine rootstock, specially selected to suit the soil and micro-climatic condition of each individual block, has been purchased from South Africa's leading nurserymen, planted and reared by hand. I see each vine on Nelson's Creek as an individual, each requiring nurturing according to its own special characteristics. The same applies to each and every bottle of wine that we produce. Each bottle bears our name and has to be as close to perfect as it possibly can be. Being almost the best is simply not good enough!"
The Agter Paarl Region
Nelson’s Creek Wine Estate is situated on the Atlantic seaward side of the Paarl Mountain. This region, known as the ‘Agter Paarl’, can rightfully claim to be one of, if not the best, wine growing region in the world.
During the past few years grapes from this mini region were used for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines that have both won the incredible distinction in two consecutive years of being awarded the prize for being the best in the world at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France.
This show is held every second year and is the largest wine show in the world. It draws thousands of entries from every region in the world where wines of note are produced.
Eager to achieve what is unquestionably the most coveted wine prize in the world, wines form these regions are placed ‘blind’ before panels that consist of the best wine judges in the world. Tasting the wine blind means just that! Individual panels for each cultivar adjudge the wines entered for this ultimate test without having any idea of the country from where they come, let alone the mini region where the grapes were grown. In this manner the worlds best wine regions, subject their wines to this ultimate test that will determine which is really the best wine growing region in the world.
There is no question that this is undeniably the mother of all wine competitions and it is rare for one country to have the good fortune of producing a wine that is crowned the champion in more than one cultivar. To achieve this accolade at two consecutive competitions is well nigh impossible given the vast number of entries received each year and the many factors that influence wine production year by year.
For the same mini region within a country to receive this unprecedented accolade is indeed nothing short of a miracle!
These facts place into perspective the incredible achievements that have been bestowed upon grapes grown in a relatively small part of South Africa’s best wine growing region.
It is unbelievable that in 2001 and again at the very next competition that was held Bordeaux in 2003, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes from this region were sourced to produce wines that were both consecutively crowned the best in the world at the Vinexpo show.
In other words on four occasions over the past four years different wines that originate from grapes grown in this mini region were adjudged the best in the world by four different panels of the worlds best experts. This is a feat that is unequalled and will surely never be repeated anywhere in the world again.
It is well recognised that terroir plays a crucial role in the production of wines of great quality. There is no doubt that the afore going achievements are inextricably linked with the terroir and meso climate of this mini region which is unique for the following reasons:
- It is located in a wide undulating valley between the Paarl and Perdeberg Mountains.
- The valley is located in an area that is approximately 40 to 50 kilometres as the crow flies from the Atlantic Ocean.
- The icy Benguela current flowing southward down the west coast of Africa breaths streams of cool air into this valley at night.
- Cool misty mornings are frequent followed by warm sunny afternoons.
- The Paarl and Paardeberg mountains consist of two massive granite outcrops which were formed hundreds of millions of years ago and then gradually exposed over time.
- Over millions of years these granite outcrops have systematically been worn down.
- The soils in the valley now consists of an elaborate combination of this granite and shale mixed together since time immemorial.
- Water retention is good because of the high underlying clay content and root penetration is remarkably deep in these soils.
It will come as no surprise that this is one of the first regions in the Cape that was sought out by the French Huguenots for the planting of grapes shortly after they arrived in the Cape in 1688. Many farms in the region have deeds office entries dating back to 1692.
Famous winemakers, such as Gunter Broessel, internationally renowned winemaker from Nederberg produced grapes in the valley and it is here where Altus Le Roux sourced the grapes that won him the title of being the Champion winemaker of the world.
At present the area is one of the fastest growing in South Africa and boasts the establishment of ten new wineries in as many years. 85% of the producers in the region however still deliver their grapes to co-operative producers, including Boland, Wamakersvallei, Windmeul and Paardeberg.