Zonnebloem Laureat looks back


ZonnebloemFrom the 2010 vintage, Zonnebloem’s flagship red blend, Laureat, features a new label that pays homage to those who have shaped this South African brand. ‘The new look better distinguishes the specialty wine from the core range,’ says global marketing manager Deidre Samson.

Made by Bonny van Niekerk under cellarmaster Deon Boshoff from hand-picked grapes selected from a range of top-performing farms in Stellenbosch, it is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-dominated blend. The berries, explains Van Niekerk, were smaller than average owing to the vintage conditions of 2010, giving rise to an excellent skin to fruit ratio and concentrated colour and flavour.

Coat of arms

Samson explains that each pictorial element of the label is a reflection of an important element of Zonnebloem’s history. The lion is derived from the Malherbe coat of arms, whose family gave the name Zonnebloem to the Simondium farm. Originally it formed part of a larger property, situated on the banks of the Great Berg River granted in 1692 by Governor Simon van der Stel. In 1856, the owner at the time, Petrus Jacobus Malherbe divided the land between his two sons, Daniël Francois and Willem Andries, Willem Andries called his farm, Zonnebloem.  There was already a homestead here, built in 1822, that is recalled by the gable on the label.

Zonnebloem was bought by Frederik JJ Furter in 1893 and for the next few generations the family was closely bound up with the history of the farm. Frederik’s son, also Willem, established a reputation for producing wine of excellence, winning many prizes and export contracts. Sadly, he died at the height of his career in 1940, but his descendants continued in his tradition. First, his daughter, Marie, who excelled at the annual Cape Wine Show; and then Marie’s brother-in-law, John de Villiers. He acquired the farm and applied the De Villiers family crest to the Zonnebloem label, as well as its motto: La Main a l’oeuvre, meaning the ‘hand that works’, that has always been the main feature of the Zonnebloem label.  Now, the label also includes a lamb that appears on the De Villiers family crest.

Pivotal role

Van Niekerk says she has made the wine as a tribute to her predecessors. ‘Knowing of the new label and its intentions, I thought very much about the characters who played such a pivotal role in Zonnebloem’s past when I was making up this blend. Although they all inspire me, I have to admit that Marie Furter is the personality who stands out most for me. She was just 21 when she took over from her late father in 1940 with such success. If she had lived today, she would have been able to pursue her gift for winemaking without any question but in her time winemaking was very much a male-dominated terrain. That she trained first her brother-in-law and then her husband and both achieved such outstanding results is a real testimony to her talent.’