Môreson Wine Estate is bow-chikka-wow-wow

Môreson and then some; this wine estate’s got it all

There’s a certain magic about Môreson Wine Estate. Maybe it’s the golden Méthode Cap Classiques (MCCs) they produce, or the bubbling brook filled with frogs. It could be the estate’s restaurant, Bread and Wine, whose chef is Neil Jewel, one of the country’s top charcuterists, or perhaps it’s the orchid greenhouse bursting with exotic blooms, or even the fountain filled with copper and silver wishes. No, upon meeting Nikki Friedman, managing director of the estate, I decide it’s the family behind the name that gives this estate its sparkle.

Bright blue-eyed with a matching streak in her short brunette hair, this is Nikki’s family farm. She grew up on Môreson; a time punctuated by rescuing ducklings, cavorting in rivers, and the general mischief that comes with a golden childhood.

“I get very nostalgic about the light this time of year. It takes me right back,” says Nikki. “I’ve kissed plenty of boys on this farm,” she says laughing.

We’ve settled into wrought iron chairs with long flutes of the Solitaire MCC. Made from 100 percent chardonnay, this partly wooded bubbly has the biscotti palate so characteristic of the grape.

The family is close-knit. Nikki has a younger sister Charlie and two brothers Dane and Blake.

“My parents live in America now,” Nikki is saying. “But they visit fairly often. And when they do, we have these big, mad Friedman dinners. Everyone talks at the same time. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to it. I once asked my dad, why we always talk business, and he said: ‘the reason we’re successful is because we always talk business.’”

JP Franzsen, the estate's tasting host has poured us measures of the barrel fermented chenin. It’s the colour of sun-faded marigolds, the nose is fresh and apple-ly, giving way to toasted nut and honey aromas.

“The nose of the wine is always important,” says Nikki. “It’s a huge amount of what you taste. We make wine here that stretches across your mouth. Balanced. With a long, long finish, the kind of ending that makes you want to do it all over again.

“No matter how much or how little you know about wine, no-one’s going to look down on you here. Wine can be such a snobby thing, and it really shouldn’t be.”

Next we tuck into the chardonnay. A nose of white flowers and buttered toast leads to a denser palate of shortbread with high notes of citrus. The wood is light and integrated—merely giving the wine structure.

Good golly Miss Molly

JPhas brought out The Miss Molly range. The label is a sketch of the family’s dog, an elegant gray Weimaraner named, you guessed it, Miss Molly (sometimes also known as ‘Stinky’ ‘Skinkle Bum’ and ‘Molly Mouse’).

“We’re a dog-mad family,” says Nikki. “Animal mad in general. My mom once even hand-reared three abandoned rat babies…”

Each wine in the Miss Molly range is specific to a story about the family pet. Quite the altruistic hound, a portion of the money made from every bottle of Miss Molly sold in South Africa is donated to theSouth African Guide Dogs’ association for the blind.

“It really is Molly, who’s giving the money,” Nikki enthuses. “I have the most beautiful emails written to her, ‘by other dogs’, thanking her.”

“She’s a Hollywood star. My dad says she doesn’t walk, she saunters. She knows she’s famous.”

And her wine’s good too. We’re sipping on the Hoity Toity, a blend of chenin and viognier. Beautifully fresh and most definitely a food wine. There’s also an MCC and a red blend in the range.

The light’s shifting in the tasting courtyard, bleeding into late afternoon. ClaytonReabow, winemaker, joins our table carrying Môreson’s more serious red range. Clayton is rather dashing (he looks like he should be perched on a rock smoking a Camel cigarette).

Instead of smoking he pours us violet-purple cabernet franc. Its label states that only four barrels of the wine’s been made, all the red wine labels are given this treatment. Matured in French oak for 24 months, the wine is warm and complex—deep, savoury plum.

This is when Nikki pulls a proverbial rabbit out of a hat, “and this is our petit verdot.” What a treat. Petit verdot is most commonly used as a component in Bordeaux blends, but given the proper treatment it can be a real show-stopper as a single varietal.

It’s inky and taut. We decide that the wine smells like a herb garden on fire. Clutching our glasses, we make our way to the orchid greenhouse, a couple of metres from the tasting room.

The Exotic Plant Orchid Nursery is filled with all kinds of unusual flora. A far cry from the bog-standard white orchids you can buy at retailers. Here they’re rainbow hued, spotted and dainty as well as bombastic—from bright sunburst petals to deep magenta blooms.

Nikki is keen to use the greenhouse as a function area for intimate dinners and celebratory events, catered by Bread & Wine of course.

Speaking of, Neil’s charcuterie is legendary. Sourcing only the best, local organic pork, he makes pork belly farm bacon, Parma-style ham, saucisson sec (dry sausage) and more. Expect a menu filled with rustic, honest food. Bread is baked daily, pair with a platter of charcuterie and gooey cheese for a true country meal.

My visit is coming to an end now. Hours have passed and I haven’t felt them. I feel like I’ve been at the slot machines in Vegas —where days go by without the gamblers even realising. That’s the pull of this farm.  It’s a quixotic mix of dreamy wines, a tranquil setting, food that speaks to Franschhoek provenance and a fun, inspiring family behind it all.

 As I’m leaving we make a stop at the fountain. We throw in a few coins, laughing as we make silly wishes. In the words of sassy Nikki Friedman herself, ‘Bow-chikka-wow-wow.’

By Malu Lambert

Môresonis situated in the Cape’s gastronomy capital, Franschhoek an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Tastings cost R30 for five wines, but if you purchase any wine, this payment will be made void. Not up for the drive? Then you can pick up their wine atWine Concepts in Kloof or Caroline’s Fine Wines in Strand Street, among other retailers.

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