Discover Elgin, the coolest wine region!

At Paserene, winemaker Martin Smith has carefully selected parcels of wine from Tulbagh and Elgin to join the vineyard in Franschhoek to produce hand-crafted wines, that create a moment in time. Previously we looked at Tulbagh and now let’s explore Elgin and what distinguishes this cool wine region.

Located about 70km southeast of Cape Town, surrounded by mountains in the Overberg region, Elgin has the town of Grabouw at its centre with lush farmlands surrounding it. In the mid-1800s a German family bought the land that would eventually become the town and named it after their hometown of Grabow, Germany.

Later in the century, a father named a plot of the surrounding land, Elgin, after his late daughter, Elgine. This plot of land later become the location of the train station which adopted the name. The final step that solidified the name of the area was in the 1950s when two farming brothers bestowed their enormous farming enterprise in the area “… to Elgin’s farmworkers and inhabitants”. This enterprise placed Elgin on the map and solidified the area as a renowned fruit farming area.

In modern times the area is most famous for farming apples and is where 60% of SA’s national crop comes from. Modern wine-production only began in the area in 1986, when Paul Cluver Wine Estate planted Riesling vineyards and Neil Elis was the first to release a specifically Elgin wine in 1990. 

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The soils of the Elgin basin are predominantly iron-rich gravel on top of soft Bokkeveld shales which are nutrient-rich and offer good water retention. The location is unique in that it is low lying, surrounded by mountains and regularly experiences morning mist. This combination has been identified as an ideal cool climate region and as such is now recognised as SA’s coolest wine-producing region. Initially, it was thought that red varietals wouldn’t ripen in the area and Sauvignon Blanc was a great hope, but with careful vine planning and viticultural practices, many varietals are grown with great success benefitting from the long growing season.

At Paserene, the Emerald is a two-way blend of Sauvignon Blanc from the area and Franschhoek while the Dark is a three-way blend of Syrah from Elgin, Tulbagh and Franschhoek. In these blends, Martin is able to skilfully combine the unique characteristics of these regions into wines that are in harmony and demonstrates the best of South African Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

The 2019 Chardonnay is harvested from Elgin only, and captures the light golden colour, with a beautiful green hue that is a tell-tale sign of Elgin fruit. The aromas are rich and elegant, abundant with lemon zest, white peach, oatmeal and citrus blossoms. The palate is rounded out by the use of 30% new super tight grain Burgundian barrels, where the remainder is in second and third fill barrels. This wine is a true expression of the terroir that embodies the feminine quality of the region.

The Paserene Nest, located in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley, offers a rare opportunity to experience the wines that capture these exceptional regions in one beautiful setting. The tasting lounge is the place to be seen and explore what Paserene has to offer.

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the paserene swallow at paserene tasting lounge one of the top wine tasting near franschhoek in cape town

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