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Glenelly

May-Eliane de Lencquesaing is the former owner of Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac, which was ranked a 2nd Growth in the 1855 classification of the Left Bank. In 2007 she sold it to the Rouzand family, the owners of Louis Roederer Champagne. She wanted to begin a new venture outside France and was drawn to South Africa, not only because of the soil, climate and potential for making quality wines, but because of the winemaking connection with France, which went back more than three centuries. She found where her dream could become a reality in 2003 when, after visiting many vineyards, she set eyes on the Glenelly estate on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain – which had a French heritage! What is now Glenelly had originally been part of the Ida's Valley farm, granted to French Huguenot Francois Villon by Simon van der Stel in 1682. The estate remained French owned until 1812, when it was acquired by Johan Peter de Villiers. But now it was once more in French hands. May-Eliane replaced the existing fruit trees with vines, unsurprisingly planting her beloved Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, but also Syrah and Chardonnay which all thrive on the ancient decomposed granite and sandstone soils. In 2009 the winery was completed, designed by Swiss and South African architects, functioning by gravity flow over five floors, half underground, it is one of the most ultramodern wineries in the continent. The vineyards are farmed sustainably and, as with the Médoc, the Cape vineyards are situated between two bodies of water; in South Africa's case the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, which creates a microclimate that is ideal for the cultivation of grapes. Glenelly take a minimal intervention approach, and the wines are made as naturally as possible, using wild yeasts to ferment and no acidification. Barrels come from some of France's most renowned coopers (Taransaud, Boutes and Sylvain). There is a spectacular glass display in the winery; May-Eliane has a passion for rare and contemporary glass and she has one of the largest privately-owned collections of glass in the world, spanning two millennia.“Glass and wine have a lot in common” she philosophises “they both come from poor material and poor soils and through man's talent and genius, they become works of art”. May-Eliane's vision was to “establish Glenelly as a world-class estate, producing award-winning wines with power, elegance, balance”, and she has certainly achieved her dream – these are wines with great elegance and finesse - a Bordelais focus, but unmistakably South African!

glenellyestate.com/