One of the brightest stars, against the odds and just R95 per bottle

AT THE HEIGHT of summer the temperature on Dirk Malan’s farm outside the town of Keimoes approaches 50 degrees C – particularly in the ‘Berg Shiraz’ block that forms the basis of the Lyra Vega blend, a vineyard up against a klip koppie (hill of stone). It can be very dry too. Even with the help of irrigation, wine farming alongside the Orange River in the Northern Cape is tough, albeit that Keimoes is an oasis of sorts.

So it was surprising to many when Orange River Cellars’ Lyra Vega 2015 ranked among the Top 20 wines in Winemag’s recent Signature Red Blend Report where it was reviewed as ‘excellent’. Perhaps not so surprising to those who remember the 2013 vintage of Lyra Vega rating just as well on a year earlier, or GWK’s 2015 Landzicht Cabernet Sauvignon from outside Prieska that came first in its class at the Trophy Wine Show in June 2017, or Die Mas Pinotage 2015 from Kakamas that achieved a gold medal at the 2016 Michelangelo Awards… Typically though, most of the glory associated with top quality wine from the Northern Cape has had to do with the area’s great fortified desserts.

Explained on the label as ‘The Northernmost Star’, the name Lyra Vega is derived from the northern constellation called Lyra and its brightest star called Vega. The 2015 vintage is a blend of Shiraz (75%) and Petit Verdot that spent 19 months in a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak barrels (73% new). It’s a team effort, with 70% coming from the Keimoes winery, 15% from Groblershoop, 8% from Kakamas and 7% from Upington.

The winemakers’ tasting note: “Fresh, yet full bodied… aromas of black olives and blackcurrants intermingled with soft vanilla tones… marmalade and blueberry flavours wrapped in velvety tannins.”

The wine is due for release at the end of October, when it will sell for R95 a bottle from Orange River Cellars in the four towns that are home to the wineries and tasting rooms. Because production was limited to 4870 bottles, it won’t be sold through the country’s retail wine shops and supermarkets, however you will be able to buy online via the Cellars’ website – in which case there will be a 15% discount before they add on a courier fee of R350 a case …


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