The newly released 2012 vintage of Muratie’s George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir, bearing the label ‘Muratie introduced wine lovers to South Africa’s First Pinot Noir’, proudly salutes Muratie as South Africa’s pioneer of Pinot Noir.
It is George Paul Canitz, after whom the Muratie Pinot Noir is named, whom we have to thank for the Cape’s first Pinot Noir. GP Canitz, famous artist, bon vivant and former owner of Muratie, together with prominent viticulturist, Professor Abraham Perold (who created pinotage), planted the fist Pinot Noir grapes, at Muratie, in 1927, and produced the first ‘Burgundy’ in Stellenbosch. “Muratie Burgundy is bottled sunshine; it gladdens the heart and loosens the tongue!” Such were the words of the charismatic Canitz who had a fine palate for Pinot.
The Pinot Noir tradition at Muratie was continued by the late Ronnie Melck who purchased Muratie from the Canitz family in 1987. Ronnie had first come across Muratie, and its colourful owner George Canitz, when, as a Stellenbosch University student, he was out buying wine for his ‘koshuis’ dance. Enchanted by the historic estate, he later made Muratie his home. Ronnie – one of the great characters of the South African wine industry, with a legendary palate, a passion for wine, a real joy for life and a wonderful sense of humour, always liked to say, “Pinot Noir is, quite simply, the world’s best party wine”, and he would surely know.
With the release of the 2009 vintage of Muratie’s Pinot Noir, Rijk Melck, son of Ronnie and current custodian of Muratie, paid tribute to South Africa’s father of Pinot Noir, George Paul Canitz, by renaming the Muratie Pinot Noir in his honour.
Now, with the release of the 2012 vintage, an additional label has been added to the wine to honour the estate’s prestigious status as the pioneer of Pinot Noir in South Africa.
GEORGE PAUL CANITZ PINOT NOIR 2012
The smooth and velvety 2012 George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir is sure to “gladden the heart” as did the very first vintage.
A heady combination of liquorice, aniseed, black and red berries greets you on the nose, underpinned by hints of truffle, exotic mushrooms and spice. A smooth, velvety entry opens into an elegant mouthful of fruits – preserved raspberries and cherries – surrounded by oak-induced spice flavours of grated cloves and sandalwood. The wine has a fresh lively acidity and juicy tannins and the finish is lengthy, changing from fruit through to satisfying truffles and earthiness.
Suggested food pairing:
A rich and warming wine, it is best enjoyed with game or a robust mushroom risotto.
The Muratie George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir retails nationally at leading wine retailers for approximately R180.
GEORGE PAUL CANITZ, THE MAN
George Paul Canitz was a German artist who furthered his training in Paris, Italy and the Netherlands before embarking on a cruise and ending up in South West Africa (Namibia) and finally in Stellenbosch where he founded an art school and was a part-time lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. In 1926, while out horse-riding with his daughter, Annemie, he happened upon an old neglected manor house, fell in love with the charm of the place and bought, renovated and replanted the old farm.
At Muratie George Paul Canitz did what he loved best: winemaking, painting and horse-riding. He’d spend his mornings with a canvas, his afternoons sampling grapes and his evenings on his beloved horse. He became famous locally and internationally, with art lovers from all over the world coming to Muratie to buy his paintings, but his greatest fame came from being the first ever Pinot Noir producer in the country and his fine palate for Pinot.
Most of the paintings in the Muratie cellar were painted by George Canitz. The painting behind the tasting room counter is the one used for the Amber Forever wine label, Amber being one of Canitz’s models and most probably his mistress as well. Canitz’s art studio, which he built with bricks made on the farm, still stands today, on a terrace next to the tasting centre and overlooking the garden. And Canitz’s ‘Kneipzimmer’ at Muratie bears testament to the merry parties that took place regularly in this quaint drinking den. It was here that Canitz’s many guests were invited to share his favourite Muratie wines and cover the roof and walls with paintings and writings.
A VISIT TO MURATIE
At Muratie, the passion for preserving the estate’s rich heritage and intriguing human stories from its centuries old history, are captured in every nook and cranny of this family farm. Wherever you are on the estate you cannot help being moved by a sense of the many generations who have lived and worked there. The buildings, the artefacts and even the shrubs and trees exude an aura of the colourful past reaching towards an even more fruitful future.
Still guarded over by ancient oak trees, Muratie reveals a piece of history where time has largely stood still. The original open fermenters and winemaking implements in the werf that greet you on arrival; the rickety cob-webbed tasting room with stained glass windows; the renovated original old fermentation tanks with their tartaric encrusted walls; the antique carpets and furniture; and original art; all adorn a unique and magical environment.
Even the wines and the food reflect a tangible sense of time suspended, with the estate’s wines named after extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past, each with its own enchanting story described on the back label. And there are a myriad stories reaching as far back as the 17th century, making Muratie one of the oldest wineries in the Cape Winelands. “Each of our wines has its own personality,” says co-owner Rijk Melck. “Our flagship white and red blends are named Laurens Campher and Ansela van der Caab, honouring the first owner of Muratie and the remarkable love affair between him and the slave girl Ansela who eventually became his wife; George Paul Canitz, of course, is the name of our Pinot Noir; our Merlot is named after Canitz’s daughter, Alberta Annemarie, affectionately known as Annemie; our Shiraz pays tribute to my father, Ronnie Melck; our Chardonnay is called Isabella, after his granddaughter and my daughter; our Lady Alice Cap Classique celebrates high society hostess, Lady Alice Stanford, who bought Muratie in 1909, and our Cape Vintage honours Muratie’s legendary barefoot winemaker, Ben Prins.”
So take time out to explore this magical environment and take heed of the words of George Paul Canitz: “It’s the smooth bouquet that counts – drink Muratie wines made from the finest grapes, ripened in the South African sun. Every drop in your glass is full of flavour and strength; it gladdens the heart and loosens the tongue. It is the strength of a pure wine that enables you to face care and trouble with a lighter heart and so quickly dissipate that feeling of depression. In this manner it incidentally fortifies the body against infections and disease”.
In the Vineyards: The Pinot Noir vines are planted at 300m above sea level on North West facing slopes using the Perold trellising system. The Table Mountain sandstone soil is rich in its moisture-retaining potential, hence the dry-land vineyards. The vines are a combination of 113, 115 and 777 clones, grafted on Richter 99 and 110 Rootstock. The age of the vines varies from 9 to 19 years.
In the Cellar
The grapes were hand-sorted, destalked and crushed before being pumped into classic open fermenters. The grapes were cold-soaked for a day and manual plunging and pump-overs were done at the required intervals. After fermentation, the skins were gently pressed. The wine was pumped into 500-litre French Oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation and spent 18 months maturing before bottling.