It’s not often that you see golf and wine mixed together, but outside Stellenbosch in the Greater Simonsberg region, Ernie Els has mixed the two with his Ernie Els Wines. Established in 1999 and completed in 2004, it’s a 72 hectare estate crowned by a hill upon which the winery sits and has a commanding views of the hills around it.

Ernie has apparently always been a wine lover and it shows in the wines. The overall design to the winery and tasting room is very classy, but much like Francis Ford Coppola’s eponymous winery there are certain, oversold elements to it that come off a bit Starbuckish. That aside, they are producing some great wines at this winery.

The 2008 Big Easy is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mouvedre, and Viognier. It spends 15 months in French oak and has no bottle maturation. The nose is big, bold, and full of black cherry. The body counters this with being soft and very easy to drink. It clears out well in the finish. It’s a great wine for those who are rather new to wine, but even though it’s the most affordable of their wines, the price point is a bit over the top. R 120

The 2006 Cirrus is a flat-out Syrah that’s aged in American oak barrels for 20 months and then 12 months in the bottle. Made in the “Rhône style” its exact make up 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier. The nose is immediately peppery with licorice and different from most of the Syrah in the region. The body gets a good deal more mellow with the licorice still staying around but stays quite dry overall. The finish is smooth and surprisingly fruity with lingering traces of vanilla that are most likely due to the American oak. They claim it can be aged up to 5 years. R 210

The 2007 Engelbrecht is a six varietal blend that’s mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blended in with Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Syrah. It receives 18 months French oak and 12 months in the bottle. It won a gold medal in the Veritas Wine Awards and the winery claims it can be aged up to 8 years. Very peppery in the nose most likely due to the Shiraz. This happens to overshadow the Cabernet Sauvignon a good deal unfortunately. The body is also rather peppery and came across a bit jumbled at the moment with no one flavor standing out more then the others and most likely needs a number of years more to age. The finish is dry, but again undefined, and a bit too oaky. R 210

The 2005 Ernie Els is 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. 20 months French oak, 18 months in bottle. They claim it can be aged up to 20 years. The nose has light, chocolate elements as well as a touch of caramel. The body is dry, but the caramel comes in to it as well. Quite pleasant, bold, and strong, but at the same time, light enough to be paired with foods such as steak. The finished comes up with a bit of cedar and pine. R 525

We talk a great deal more about the wines of Stellenbosch and other Cape Town wineries in our Stellenbosch wine guide.