The first thing that becomes apparent when arriving at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek, South Africa, is the immense weight of history that the wine estate bears, going as far back as 1694. To put that date in perspective, in the UK that year, both the Bank of England and Greenwich Hospital were established and according to legend, the year before in France, Champagne was created for the first time by Dom Pierre Pérignon who it is said infamously declared "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars".[caption id="attachment_659" align="alignright" width="300"] Dom Perignon Chandelier in the Haute Cabriere Cellar[/caption]
What is true without question is that on 22 December 1694, a French Huguenot, Pierre Jourdan received the deeds to a piece of land in Olifantshoek. The English translation of this Dutch name is Elephant Corner. Elephants would travel to this valley to calve and sadly, the last calf seen in the valley was in the mid 1800s. This area is known today as Franschhoek, one of the oldest towns in South Africa and the area originally settled by French Huguenot refugees. Jourdan named the farm Cabriere after his home town in France.
The next stage in Haute Cabriere's history was in the 1980s when Achim von Arnim purchased a part of the original Cabriere land with the dream of producing Champagne style wines. To that end, he planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to produce South Africa's equivalent of French Champagne, nowadays called Méthode Cap Classique. And in 1986, the first Pierre Jourdan Brut was sold.
In the early 1990s, Achim purchased a piece of land on the slopes of the mountains in Franschhoek. The terroir reflected that which he had experienced in Burgundy and the clay stuck to his boots as it had done whilst he was a student working in the Burgundian vineyards. This inspired him to pursue the production of Pinot Noir in the Burgundian style as well as a Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend.[caption id="attachment_660" align="alignright" width="300"] The fireplace at Haute Cabriere's cellar displaying Achim's boot impressions[/caption]
The land on the side of the mountain had originally been carved out as a quarry. Archim made use of this and built a beautiful underground cellar and tasting room into the side of the Franschhoek Mountain. The cellar opened on 22 December 1994, exactly 300 years after Pierre Jourdan received the deeds to Cabriere.
Today, Haute Cabriere produces no less than 3 MCC wines and a classique still wine under their Pierre Jourdan label. Under the same label, is their Ratafia, made from 100% Chardonnay and fortified with brandy. They also produce, under their Haute Cabriere label, a Pinot Noir, a Pinot Noir Reserve, a unique and delightful Unwooded Pinot Noir, and a Chardonnay Pinot Noir that is without any surprise, Hard To Find Wine's bestselling wine.
And Haute Cabriere does not stop at these wines. They are in the process of developing a 100% Chardonnay and three limited release wines: a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Blanc de Blancs.
The Present and the Future
The authenticity of Haute Cabriere's history is a significant part of what makes the estate unique. Equally important though is the focus on development, innovation and community, whilst embracing the best of what has been learned in the past. Our blog post next week will look at where Haute Cabriere is now in it's story and where it is heading.
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