The winery was founded in 1945 on land near Stellenbosch which was first planted with grapes in 1707 by early viticulturists. 1707 Was significant because it marked the release of the first political prisoner in South Africa. It was also the first time that the term “Afrikaner” was used when a certain Hendrik Beerman called himself this, while riding through the streets of Stellenbosch after a heavy, brandy-drinking session.
In the early years from 1945 onwards, distilled wine for the production of brandy was made. What is interesting about this period is that the first affirmative action winemaker Abe Dawidse managed the cellar alongside the cellar master, Charlie Sparks.
These days PG Slabbert assisted by Juan Slabbert crafts mostly well priced wines from choice grapes supplied by 16 different farms, making Stellenbosch Hills effectively, a co-op. This does not mean that the winery cannot make sexy, boutique wines. To celebrate the anniversary, PG and his team have released the 1707 Reserve Duo.
The 1707 Reserve 2009 is a blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Viognier. PG explains that the quality of Chardonnay grapes coming out of the Polkedraai Hills is superlative and an easy choice for the main cultivar. Viognier brings an aromatic quality to the blend while Semillon adds a round feel. The result is a buttery yet fresh wine which I found to be perfect. Even though the barrels used were new, they were only lightly toasted so that the blend is not over powering as I find often happens with white blends which have had oak treatment. Definitely a great food wine.
The companion wine is 1707 Reserve 2008, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Vedot. This wine drinks beautifully right now but can be kept for up to 5 years. It paired well with a rich, cheesy Butternut, Spinach and Feta Rotolo.
The 1707 Duo can be bought at Checkers Retail Stores and at speciality wine shops for around R81.00 per bottle for the red blend and about R60.00 for the white. An absolute steal for these quality wines!