Paying homage to a great and remarkable Italian gentleman, Giulio Bertrand.
When Giulio Bertrand purchased Morgenster (“Morning Star”) near Stellenbosch in 1992, it was love at first sight. His love affair with Africa as an Italian continued to grow and flourish, much like the grapes and olives grown on this enchanting estate. Morgenster wine and olive oil have become the backbone of his remarkable success in Africa. Hand and glove, these two fundamentally important ingredients to Italian dining contribute in no small part to the love they have for food.
Giulio was a perfectionist and was gifted with a taste for it. He had a superior palate and knew exactly what he wanted – I was privileged to have known such a man. When I met Giulio, I sensed a calm demeanour about him, but it was the bright sparkling blue eyes that hinted at the jest and passion he had for life and his great love for opera. It was fitting then that the latter inspired his Italian Collection wine.
On Wednesday 9th May 2018, only a week before my great friend passed away, I attended the launch of 2018 in the tasting room at Morgenster. Guilio will continue to have a presence at Morgenster and sadly his presence will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Cellar master Henry Kotzé introduced eight wines to media and trade. Two of these were the 2014 Morgenster Estate Reserve and the Morgenster Lourens River Valley Bordeaux red blend. Another two were the 2015 Italian Collection reds – Nabucco, a 100% Nebbiolo and Tosca, a Sangiovese-led Super Tuscan and my personal favourite.
Henry also introduced the Estate’s first bubbly as the fifth wine we sampled. Morgenster Cuvée Alessandra 2016 is made using the Méthode Cap Classique. Named for one of Giulio’s daughters, it was made from 100% Cabernet Franc and spent nine months in barrel and 16 months on the lees. The result is a nose with plenty of fruit, with biscuit and yeast coming to the fore, backed by minerality and river stone neutrality. The palate reveals a soft lingering mousse with a very fine persistent bubble and an expression of Cabernet Franc fruit in a sweeter style, even though no dosage was added.
To round out the line-up, there were three wines, two of which reflected the 2018 vintage: Morgenster Sauvignon Blanc 2018 from the Estate’s Single Varietal range and the ever popular Morgenster Caruso 2018 rosé from the Italian Collection. The eighth and final wine was Morgenster White Reserve 2015, a white Bordeaux blend made in the classic style from 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon. It had first been unveiled the previous year and was re-released to display a year’s evolution in bottle.
As Giulio liked to say, there is always something new out of Morgenster and his motto was, “where there is quality there is no compromise”. I believe it was because of his motto that his formula worked and will continue to do so.