Laibach ladybirdThe history of the wine farm can be traced back until the year 1818. Originally named "Good Success" and owned by Dutchman Daniel Johannes van Ryneveld from Amsterdam, this vast farm extended to most of the catchment area in the valley enclosed by the Simonsberg, Kanonkop and Klapmutsberg. Later on it was divided in three farms: Warwick, De Goede Suces and the remainder of the farm Good Success, which has become Laibach in 1994, when entrepreneur Friedrich Laibach realized his 30-year dream of owning a vineyard.

Deep red soils anchor the vines at Laibach in a firm, sustaining embrace. No irrigation is needed. Laibach's 37 hectares of vineyards are planted on the North-East facing slopes of the Simonsberg that offer an excellent angle for sun exposure, the key to photosynthetic efficiency and flavour development.

Since 1994 they replanted the entire vineyards to Merlot (10 hectares), Cabernet Sauvignon (8.37 hectares), , Pinotage (6,6 hectares), Chardonnay (3,95 hectares), Cabernet Franc (2,44 hectares), Petit Verdot (2,12 hectares), Chenin Blanc (1,63 hectares), Malbec (1,1 hectares) and Viognier (1 hectare). Through meticulous pruning we limit each vine to an average of 16 buds versus the typical 36 buds per vine. In the new vineyards, very little has been left to chance - aside from the weather.

The question of agricultural sustainability may not be fully answered with organic farming practices, but it’s a great start. The elimination of toxic agricultural chemicals may reverse the pollution of our surface and groundwater supplies, save the farm workers from certain chronic maladies and even spare wildlife some hideous malformations.

The reduction of highly soluble synthetic fertilizers may reduce yields in some crops for a time, but through soil building practices, like recycling of manures and other wastes through composting, and the revitalization of soil with organic matter, we try to create soils capable of sustaining production levels without sacrificing economic concerns. We see ourselves as traditionalists. We make wine with minimal intervention to show what the special Simonsberg-Stellenbosch deep red soils (Clovelly and Glenrosa) can produce. On the whole farm we use no irrigation and we rely on our deep clay soil to keep the roots cool and happy. Today the average yield is around 35-40 hectoliters per hectare.

2012 Claypot Merlot (Wine notes)

Technical details:

Varietal: 100 % Merlot
Alcohol: 14%
Total acidity: 5,6 g/l
pH: 3,6
Residual sugar: 2,1 g/l

Tasting notes:

One of our flagship wines and probably one of the best Merlots in South – Africa. The grapes for this wine are from one single organically grown block that was planted in 1998. We harvest this block 3–4 times. Usually the vineyard team will go in beginning of February and mark the less vigorous parts. This always gives us the most structure, the least alcohol and also the lowest amount of greenness. We definitely are looking for more voluptuous flavours with a good velvety texture and absolutely no green tin – pea character. By going completely organic on the farm we believe that this adds to the quality of this wine. It is usually a very strict selection and only the best of the best barrels end up in this wine. Total production can be anything between 10 and 31 barrels depending on harvest and quality. We do follow traditional “European” practices and we very much look at Pomerol as our inspiration. We harvest by hand and chill the grapes if possible. Cold soak is important, especially for some batches. A very strict sorting regime is in place to remove all the green unwanted stems that the destemmer cannot remove. We do 1.5 to 2 tons per hour and it’s done by hand, after destemming but before crushing. A light crush will follow. Few days cold soak and some tanks will be allowed to do natural fermentation. A relative short and very warm fermentation is preferred. Skin contact can last 10-35 days, depending on vintage. Malolactic fermentation is finished in stainless before 100% New French oak barrels from a selected cooperage is filled for ageing. 14–24 Months in barrel depending on vintage. The wine is bottled with a sterile filtration. Deep, dark colour. Some choc chip flavours with hints of mulberry and mocha. Full bodied with lots of structure and good velvety tannins. A burst of fruit on the palate with crushed berries, spice and some white chocolate evident. Good length and complexity. To be enjoyed till 2024.