An old Greek proverb proclaims that society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. Yet, when it comes to vineyards, very few are granted the privilege of age, either because of neglect, cost or decreasing yields. That was until a few years ago, when the Old Vine Project began a viticultural movement that spawned a preservation revolution, making South Africa the first country in the world to formally classify old vines as 35 years and older. Today, more than 233 wines bear the Certified Heritage Vineyard Seal, the official certification of an old vineyard wine, and are consistently among the ranks of the country’s top-rated or cultishly sought after wines. “The consistent response on the question of why wines made from old vines taste different, is complexity, texture, mid-palate weight, a perceived brightness,” says André Morgenthal, manager of the Old Vine Project.
But these old vineyards are more than just wine critic favourites. They represent part of our heritage, our South African identity and history. Preserving old vineyards is about more than just looking after our vineyards or shepherding younger vines into old age — it’s about the preservation of our wine culture. As Eben Sadie once put it: “If you don’t have old vines, you’re not going to have a legacy that can be passed down from one generation to the next.”
At Belthazar, we understand the importance of preserving and celebrating our old vineyards and wine heritage. To help you find your newest favourite old vine wine at a glance, we’ve now introduced a new old vine icon on the wine list to indicate that the wine is made from