What a unique name, label design and packaging that the Delheim Spatzendreck has. It’s a dessert wine that was made by accident over 60 years ago! After some experimenting, the winemaker Spatz Sperling (which translates to house sparrow) allowed a guest to taste the wine to which they replied that it is “Dreck” (German for “rubbish”) and so the label was born… Spatzendreck.
The label shows a sparrow that is pooping into a barrel, humorously thought up by the winemaker in a tongue in cheek reaction to naming his creation. Furthermore, Decanter magazine gave it the title Worst Wine Label in the World in 1971! Today, the wine is achieving 4.5 stars by Platters!
This wine makes a delightful and humorous gift at R245 a bottle which is packaged in the wooden-look cylinder.
Why was Delheim Spatzendreck an accident?
The story of how the wine came to be is the stuff of legends. Spatz himself noted how it all began, one Sunday afternoon in 1961. The family was entertaining, and he invited guests down to the cellar to try his latest creation.
“At that stage I was experimenting madly as there were no local experts or laboratories to check one’s wines, or many other producers to compare notes with,” his written recollections declare. “My sole tool was a determination to somehow produce a drinkable wine and a great affection for this heavenly liquid.
“All went well until a sample was drawn from tank No.13.”
The wine was not as it should have been. One disgusted guest – a close friend – even proclaimed it “dreck”. Spatz was wounded, as his diary later shows, but certainly not vanquished.
Spatz’s “Dreck” (“rubbish”) was born and South Africans learned to drink wine, with this Late Harvest style rendition setting the quality standard for sweet wine in the early 1960s.
According to next-generation custodians, Nora and Victor, the wine is a reminder of the spirit of tenacity and a sense of humour which set the foundations for Delheim.
Even the dubious honour of appearing in the esteemed British wine publication Decanter in 1978 for his packaging voted Worst Label of the Year, spurred him on. As the magazine put it: “What gives this label its Olympic class is the translation of the wine name which, to put it delicately, is ‘sparrow’s dropping’.”
The founding trademark of a cheeky sparrow doing its business into a cask would however, remain.
After all, how could its creator dispense with it when his surname – Sperling – is German for sparrow and his nickname, Spatz, the diminutive form? It was classic Spatz humour.
How the wine is made
Presented in a gift tube, the colour is describedas a beautiful, vibrant gold straw hues. On the nose citrus blossom, quince and honey with a variety of tropical fruit flavours comes to mind. The palate is well supported by intense fruit flavours that is underpinned by a well balance acidity. AWARDS & ACCOLADES 4.5 Stars Platter Guide.
48% Muscat d’ Frontignon
35% Chenin Blanc
17% Weisser Riesling
Both vineyards of the Muscat d Frontignon and the Weisser Riesling are situated against the foothills of the Simonsberg mountain. The Chenin Blanc grapes are from the Ou Jong Steen block situated on the foothills of Klapmutskop. These old vines are unirrigated, resulting in vines that have developed a deep root system over the years that enable it to withstand
severe water shortage.
Both the Chenin Blanc and the Muscat d’Frontignon were harvested at a sugar level of between 26 -30 Brix. The grapes was de-stemmed and crushed where after it was pressed. The juice was inoculated by commercial yeast. Alcoholic fermentation was stopped means of cooling the fermented juice
Residual Sugar: 110 g/l
Total Acidity: 6.38 g/l
Celebrating 60 years!
Tenacity and resolution eventually saw the inimitable Michael Hans “Spatz” Sperling established as a pioneer of the South African estate wine industry. The list of credits, especially as it applies to wine tourism, are often quoted and includes his having been instrumental in setting up the Stellenbosch Wine Route 50 years ago in 1971 – a first for South Africa.
The Late Harvest trend in South Africa grew from strength to strength and the family finally decided that Spatzendreck could no longer compete in this category. The historic value of Spatzendreck gives Delheim metaphorical wings to fly and visitors to Delheim will always be reminded of the humble beginnings of Spatz’s first efforts.
Since 2013, the winemaking style changed Spatzendreck to a natural sweet, barrel-aged wine. This is a collector’s item to treasure the farm’s history and reminisce over pioneering efforts, tenacity and a sense of humour.
Careful cellaring will allow the wine to age for 10 to 20 years from vintage.
The Spatzendreck 2019 sells for R245 per 500ml bottle and is only available from the farm or through Delheim’s online shop at https://www.delheim.com/shop-online/.
Delivery is FREE with orders totalling above R1 200.
Delheim Estate is in the Simonsberg sub-region of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, on the Knorhoek Road, off the R44.