Tierhoek is a beautiful old farm nestling in the lofty region of the Piekenierskloof, to the north of Cape Town. It sits within a bowl-shaped valley at an altitude of 760 metres in the Citrusdal mountains, making it the second-highest vineyard in South Africa.
In 2001 the farm was developed by wine enthusiasts, Tony and Shelley Sandell, who set about restoring the old farmhouse and neglected, rare old chenin blanc vines with loving dedication. Subsequently the Sandells received one of the highest ratings ever given for a South African wine from Decanter Magazine. Their particular chenin was noted as being of a classic Loire style, attained by the cool climate, altitude and terroir. Soils here are mostly weathered sandstone, which provides good drainage, and forces the vines to work harder in search of adequate moisture. At the cellar, there is minimal intervention and the grapes are kept at low temperatures, ensuring the precious fruit characters are preserved.
The Society’s Exhibition Chenin Blanc is produced by Tierhoek for us and offers all the qualities of the mature chenin vines which have been so carefully restored here. Straw wine is also produced from chenin grapes which have been air-dried on racks. Other varietals, including sauvignon blanc, also do well in the cool surroundings and this is definitely an estate to watch. Very sadly Tony Sandell died before he could realise his dream for Tierhoek but his wife Shelley has continued their plans with the help of bright young winemaker Roger Burten.