A South African Pinot Feast: Hamilton Russell, Tesselaarsdal, and a Glazed Pork Loin (#Winepw)

When you think of South Africa and wine, you probably think of really warm areas with grapes getting PLENTY of sunshine. At the very tip of the continent though, there are areas where the climate is cool enough for those grapes that prefer sweater weather, like Pinot Noir.

Map borrowed from WineFolly.com
Located where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, the Cape South Coast region within the larger Western Cape area, is South Africa’s coolest region. Greg and I recently sat down to a dinner exploring two wines from this area – one from Hamilton Russell Vineyards and one from Tesselaarsdal. Both wineries are in the small region of Hemel-en-Aarde, which means “heaven and earth in the Afrikaans language. These two wines don’t just share a region, though; they’re each part of a continuing story.

(Note: Both of these wines were sent as samples. No other compensation was received, and as always, all opinions are my own.)

Tim Hamilton Russell purchased his estate in 1975, after searching extensively for the ideal spot to grow cool climate grape varieties. His son, Anthony, took over in 1991 (and purchased the property in 1994) and decided to focus only on estate grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Today, he and his wife Olive, their winemaker Emul Ross, and viticulturist John Montgomery continue to make elegant wines from the tiny yields of their estate vines.

Berene Sauls grew up in a small village called Tesselaarsdal not far from Hamilton Russell. When she was 19 she went to work for the family as an au pair at in 2001. Not long after, she went to work in the wine business in an administrative position, and worked her way up from there. She eventually got curious about the winemaking process. Fifteen years into her journey, Anthony Hamilton Russell offered to help get her started in establishing her own wine business. Along with that came the expertise and assistance the Hamilton Russell team. Her first wine was a 2015 Pinot Noir made with Emul Ross as the winemaker.

Berne named her winery for the village she grew up, which has a very interesting history. It’s named for Johannes Tesselaar. He’d been a East India Company settler, and he left his land to his freed slaves to farm upon his death in 1810. Berne is a descendent of these freed slaves. She named the winery Tesselaardal to honor this history and her family’s legacy in the region. She’s breaking down barriers with wines that have been gaining great acclaim in a very short time.

We really enjoyed both of these wines. We’ll get into specifics in a moment, but both had elegance while showing plenty of fruit flavor. Speaking in broad generalities of major Pinot styles around the world, for me these two had more concentration of fruit than Willamette, but was less fruity and extracted than a Russian River Pinot.

I adapted a recipe from Evan Goldstein’s Perfect Pairings for Pork Loin Glazed with Pomegranate and Orange, which is recommended for “ripe, fruit-forward Pinot Noirs (New World style).” I’m a big fan of using what you have around the house rather than getting hung up when you’re missing an ingredient or two. I didn’t have pomegranate syrup or molasses or syrup as called for, so I worked in raspberry preserves instead. I also LOVE what a sous vide circulator can do for pork loin, so I adapted the recipe that follows for sous vide cooking. I also roasted some sweet potatoes to have alongside. (Potatoes were roastes for 35 minutes at 425°F. I tossed them with a little sauce from the pork recipe below for the last 5 minutes of cooking, then put them under the broiler with the pork  for about a minute to caramelize them a bit more.)

Now let’s finally get to the wines and how they worked.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir Hemel-en-Aarde Valley South Africa 2017

Hamilton Russell Vineyards works only with grapes from their terroir. They initiated extensive soil research in 1994 identified 130 acres of stony, clay-rich, shale-derived soil, which they find to be optimal for their style.  They’ve limited all of their plantings to the areas that have this soil type.

Geeky Details:

(Taken from the tech sheet. Check it out for more info on the vintage and additional details, as they provide a lot of information.)

Alcohol: 13.31%
Acid: 5.47 g/l
PH: 3.55
Residual Sugar: 1.6 g/l
Barrel Maturation: 100%
Barrel Ageing : 10 Months. 100% 228 liter French Oak Barrels of various ages and toasts. (37% new, 35% 2nd use, 28% 3rd use)
Malolactic: 100%
Yield: 3.46 tons/ha, 23.90 hl/ha
Production: 3909 cases of 12 bottles equivalent
Average Price: $41

Tasting Notes & Pairing 

Nose: Cherry and red berries surrounded by light curls of smoke give way to clove and black pepper, and black tea.
Palate: Savory, rustic herbs join the party, along with the red fruits and spices.
Medium bodied with medium+ acidity, and fine-grained tannins.

The wine became more savory with the food, but it also became a little bitter in bites that had a lot of the sauce, which had a little sweetness. It wasn’t bad with the food, but we thought it would work better with a preparation that spoke more to the wine’s savory character. A pork tenderloin flavored with black pepper and herbs would suit this wine more.

Tesselaarsdal Pinot Noir Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge South Africa 2017

Grapes are currently sourced until Tesselaarsdal’s own vineyards are secured and ready for harvest. Pinot Noir is the winery’s sole focus at the moment, as it suits the climate and soil types.

Geeky Details:

(Taken from the tech sheet. Again, see the sheet for more info, as it’s quite detailed.)

Alcohol: 13.8%
Acid: 5.61
pH: 3.44
Residual Sugar: 1.85
Barrel Ageing: 9.5 months
Maturation: 100% 228L French oak barrels. (30% New, 23% 2nd use, 30% 3rd use, 17% 4th use.) 
Yield: 6 tons / ha
Production: 322.58 cases
Fruit origin: Hemel-en-aarde Ridge 100%, Unirrigated La Vierge Vineyards
Average Price: $42

Tasting Notes & Pairing

Nose: Savory herbs, cranberry, red plums, white pepper.
Palate: Lots of red fruits on the palate with a hint of orange peel and light spices. The wine had mouth-watering acidity and fine tannins. This wine had a little more fruit on the palate and a little more body than the previous wine.

This wine fared better against the food thanks to that extra fruit on the palate, which turned more towards cranberry and pomegranate with a hint of tobacco.

These wines definitely sparked my interest to further explore Pinots from this region!

sous vide, pork, dinner, easy
Yield: 4 to 6
Author: Nicole Ruiz Hudson

Pork Loin Glazed with Raspberry and Orange

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 65 Mtotal time: 75 M
An glazed pork loin recipe to pair with a fruity Pinot Noir adapted from Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein for sous vide cooking.


  • 1 3-lb boneless pork roast or 2 1½-lb pork tenderloins
For the Marinade
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T raspberry preserves
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 T spicy mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves
For the Sauce:
  • ⅓ orange juice
  • 2 T syrup
  • 1 T raspberry preserves
  • 1 T mustard
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • At least 2 T reserved marinade


How to cook Pork Loin Glazed with Raspberry and Orange

  1. Preheat sous vide circulator to 133°F (or to desired temperature).
  2.  Stir together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Make sure reserve at least 2 tablespoons for the sauce. Place the pork in a sous vide appropriate plastic bag. Pour the marinade into the bag with the pork. (If you have more than needed, feel free to add more to the sauce.) Let pork marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight in the fridge. (Pull the pork from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.)
  3. Remove the air from the bag via vacuum seal or by slowly submerging the bag into water to displace the air, then sealing the bag. Cook for 1 hour.
  4. While the pork is cooking, mix the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan, along with any extra marinade. Simmer and reduce until the sauce coats the bag of a spoon. (When the pork is done cooking, you can also add the cooking liquid and reduce again if you have the time.)
  5. Once the pork has cooked for at least an hour, remove it from the water and the bag. Pat the pork dry and brush on some of the sauce. Finish the pork by placing it on a baking sheet and putting it under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, or until nicely caramelized. (Alternatively, you can also sear the pork in a pan.)
  6.  Slice the pork and serve with extra sauce on the side.


Marinating time is 30 minutes to overnight.
Created using The Recipes Generator


The rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend crew #WinePW crew is also exploring South African wines. Check out their posts:

Additional sources used for this post:

Wines of South Africa
The Oxford Companion of Wine via JancisRobinson.com

This post contains affiliate links, including the following Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.



  1. The pork loin is seriously looking good and probably tasting good! My mouth is watering now! The lightly oaked and fruit-forward Pinots must be a superb match to the raspberry/orange sauce of the pork loin. Yum!

    1. It really was a lovely meal. Thanks so much Pinny.

  2. haha! sweater wearing grapes! I think you need to create a cartoon of that!!! I love your description comparing it to Willamette, and Russian River Pinot.

  3. South African Pinots don’t get as much attention as other varietals, but this proves they’re worth exploring. Thanks!

    1. I have to say, I enjoyed these better than some of the grapes they’re better know for.

  4. It's interesting how the two wines, not that far apart from the specs, paired quite differently with the food. I'm always looking for really good sous-vide experiences; I have a circulator but I lean toward classic preparation (or fire!). I haven't done pork SV yet and I have a nice tenderloin in the freezer. Maybe soon!

    1. Thanks Jeff. I think lean pork cuts are some of the BEST applications for a circulator. Highly recommend.

  5. Wow Nicole. The food looks incredible!! The Pinots also sound delicious! I enjoyed exploring South African wines and look forward to more "research!"


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