Glenelly Estate is located on the southern slopes of the Simonsberg in Stellenbosch. Originally granted to a French Huguenot by Cape governor Simon van der Stel in the late seventeenth century, It was purchased in 1865 by a British family, who ran the estate as a fruit farm for 138 years. In 2003, a new chapter in the history of Glenelly began, when the property was acquired by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing.
For over 30 years, Mme de Lencquesaing was the owner of the fabled Bordeaux Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, and she is recognized worldwide as a tireless ambassador of Bordeaux. When she was in her 70's, tired of living in the shadow of what other men built, Mme de Lencquesaing sold her stake in Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and traveled the world to find the perfect terroir to make a name for herself. Struck by the tremendous potential of South Africa’s terroir and the beauty of the country and its people, she founded Glenelly in 2003.
After conducting exhaustive studies of Glenelly’s terroir, Mme de Lencquesaing planted the 316 acre property to 148 acres of red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) and 15 acres of Chardonnay. Glenelly’s soils are primarily decomposed granite with a deep clay base. While most Stellenbosch vineyards are planted on western facing slopes, Glenelly is blessed with a range of aspects and sun exposures, including a high percentage of cooler eastern-facing slopes. Due to the estate’s location, nestled between two hills, the vineyards benefit from gentle breezes throughout the day. These influences combine to create a slightly cooler microclimate, allowing for slower ripening of the grapes and resulting in wines of great structure, elegance and finesse.
Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain joined Glenelly in 2007 — the year the first estate fruit came on line — after five years at neighboring Rustenberg Estate. Luke has also worked abroad at such prestigious wineries as Screaming Eagle and Château Angelus. Maverick winemaker Adi Badenhorst, also formerly of Rustenberg, serves as a consultant.
In 2009, construction was completed on Glenelly’s winery building, a state-of-the-art facility anchored in a hillside and operating completely on gravity flow principles. The modern, four-level structure – developed with extreme sensitivity to the environment – was hailed by Platter’s South African Wine Guide as a “victory for environmentalism.”
Glenelly’s wines are fermented naturally and made with as little intervention as possible, seeking to achieve the perfect balance of French style and South African terroir. From the entry level “Glass Collection” — inspired by Mme de Lencquesaing’s antique glass collection — to the “Estate Reserve” signature red blend and the flagship Bordeaux-inspired “Lady May” Cabernet, Glenelly crafts inspiring wines that possess quality, complexity and elegance while remaining a true expression of their vintage and terroir.
The Estate Reserve Chardonnay has a pure, bright and fresh straw colour. The nose has tones of butterscotch, vanilla and apple pie with hints of pear drop. The palate is round and textured, with a refreshing finish that is never heavy. This is one of our absolute favorite Chardonnays for the money.