Set in the Durbanville Hills north-east of Cape Town, Bloemendal (pronounced Bloo-men-dahl) is a large (250ha) estate with a long history of winemaking and grape growing. It was established in 1702, with the first bottlings in 1987, and has diversified into hospitality (there is a bistro and events venue on the property), as well as providing a home and numerous spectacular trails to one of the Cape's many keen cycling clubs (Tygerberg).
Viticulturist Lombard Loubser is a keen cyclist himself and with the help of consultant Francois Haasbroek (with whom he had worked previously at influential Stellenbosch estate Waterford) he has been putting his energy into a major renewal programme in the vineyards - there are 135 hectares planted - in support of changes to cellar techniques aimed at producing a more refined and balanced style. Together they are also working to raise the profile of Brand Bloemendal, which is an old established one in the Cape but one which has lost ground in recent years with the explosion in the number of producers both in the Durbanville region and across the winelands.
The variety of soil types and aspects on the farm allows numerous grapes to be planted and a range of styles produced, all from estate-grown fruit, much of which is sold as grapes, with only around 10% currently kept for Bloemendal's own bottlings. The vineyards are dry farmed, so yields tend to be naturally low.
On a visit in 2015, which included a drive to the highest point on the farm - the top of the Kanonberg - with its spectacular views out over the valley and towards Cape Town, it was quickly apparent that this is a producer to watch. The then thirteen vintage partnership between Francois and Lombard is clearly a strong one: tastings in the cellar revealed some stellar syrahs, and of the wines in bottle the chardonnays, semillon and particularly the Kanonberg sauvignon blancs were impressive, the latter among the most exciting wines of that particular trip.