Crafting Contemporary Classics with Zonnebloem Wines

A while ago, Zonnebloem wines invited the food and wine media world to launch merchandising units designed by Haldane Martin and to  give us a taste some of their highly prized vintage wines……


“We are crafting what we call contemporary classics, consistently offering well-made, well balanced wines, where flavor is backed by structure.  That is what keeps Zonnebloem relevant, amidst and ever-growing profusion of choices.” says global marketing manager De-Mari Kellerman.

The cellar sources its fruit from an enviable list of 330 vineyard blocks, many of them belonging to some of the Cape’s best wine-growers.  Carefully nurtured relationships build over generations ensure a supply of top-quality grapes for the range.  The highly focused Zonnebloem team of vineyard specialists, led by Anellie Viljoen (see pic below), and winemakers work very closely with suppliers striving for optimally balanced grapes that by the time they are ready for picking, have pronounced fruit flavours and good acidity.  All fruit is hand-picked says global marketing manager De-Mari Kellerman.

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“Then it is up to us, adds cellarmaster Deon Boshoff (see pic below).  Our craftsmanship demands a finely-honed balance.  For Zonneblem that balance entails matching grace with power.  Our job in the cellar is to express that rich, succulent concentration of fruit with body and structure, so the wines are bursting with flavour but are also elegant and refreshing.  “

“When it comes to the reds, they should be attractively soft-textured, supported by smooth but firm tannins with the ability to age.  Here, we take our cue from the Zonnebloem reds from the 1960s and onwards that still attract high prices on auction.” Continues Boshoff.

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Boshoff and his dynamic young winemaking team come with impressive experience.  He is supported by Elize Coetzee (see pic below), who makes the whites and a new generation of assistant winemakers in Praisy Dlamini, Michelle Louw and James Ochse (see featured image).  Whether locally or internationally, they have been mentored by top talents and they bring to the cellar what Boshoff describes as “a clarity of craftsmanship dedicated to making full-bodied, well-toned Zonnebloem wines full of life”.

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Tasting Vintage Wine

We tasted vintage wines from 1975, 1982 and 1995.  Trust when I say, wine gets better with time…

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Zonnebloem is a South African classic.  Wine collectors have enormous respect for the brand with vintages from 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s still fetching impressive prices on auction.  At the same time, it’s growing a brand that has been building international support for its classically styled but refreshing and modern-tasting wines.”

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In 2014, one of the highest prices fetched on the Nederburg Aution was for a 1973 Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon.  A three-bottle case went to a buyer from Nigeria for R22 000, translating into R7 333 for the 40- year old wine.  Therefore, it was a real spoil and a priviledge to taste three of their vintage wines.


Food and Wine Pairing

Lunch was served and a selection of wines was served to complement the flavours of the dish it was served with.  I thought I would include the menu just to give home cooks and those interested in wine pairing ideas on how they can pair their Zonnebloem wines.  See list below:

Winemakers presented the wines with each meal.  A brief description of the wine and effects on the palate was given.

Seared Scallops served with Pea Veloute, Pea Shoots and Bresaola Crisps, accompanied by limited edition Sauvignon Blanc 2012.

Classic Duck Consommé with Wild Mushrooms and Porcini Ravioli, accompanied by Shiraz / Mourvedre / Viognier 2009

Grilled Springbok Loin Medallions, served with Smoky Fondant Potatoes, Butternut Puree, Sauteed Pak Choi and Red Wine Jus, accompanied by Laureat 2010

Twice-Baked Gruyere Souffle served with Crunchy Gorgonzola Biscotti, accompanied by Limited Edition Pinotage 2010

Have a look at some of the tweets from the lunch:


Haldane Martin

In order to reassert its classical positioning, Zonnebloem teamed up with Haldame Martin, one of South Africa’s most successful industrial and interior designers.   Zonnebloem commissioned Martin to develop a stylish range of merchandising units for restaurants and bars, as well as retail outlets.

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Martin’s first design is a sleek, multi-functional dark, cork-topped table that also functions as an ice bucket stand.   The table top can be used to hold bottle, a decanter and a glass of wine, while the legs have been configured to support an ice bucket.  If you ask me, I wouldn’t mind having one like that at home.

Other creations are two free-standing display units for wine shops, featuring some of the same materials, including the distinctive dark cork, as well as brass fixtures.

“He has reinterpreted the traditional in a pleasingly modern and original way that corresponds with Zonnebloem’s approach to winemaking.  His designs reflect the cardinal principles of harmony and balance evident in our well-crafted wines.”

Martin was approached because he has been one of the most successful exponents of a modern South African cultural identity.  “He uses design to reflect a sense of time and place.  That’s exactly what our winemakers do.  They mirror the uniqueness of each vintage and draw from very specific vineyard blocks to achieve a sense of time and place.”

Would love to hear your thoughts.  What do you think of Haldane Martin’s merchandising unitss?  Are you a fan of Zonnebloem Wines?

About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

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