Neil Ellis Wines

op sy moer – 2018

Region: south-africa

Neil Ellis Wines

Neil Ellis is a South African wine industry icon and one of the early pioneers to bring quality levels up to world class standards. The winery sits 5 miles east of the town of Stellenbosch in the Jonkershoek Valley. It was founded in 1993 with the philosophy to source grapes from the top growers of the region. The eco-friendly winery produces wines from the regions of Stellenbosch, Darling, Darbanville and Elgin.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

The vineyards are about 450m above sea level. They are old, non irrigated bush vine vineyards that grow in table mountain sandstone soils, among the natural fynbos vegetation and rooibos tea plantations.

Harvest Notes
  • Grapes were harvested at 20°B with a total acid of 7.5 g/l and a pH of 3.2
  • The grapes were whole bunch pressed and transferred straight to barrel for fermentation. This wine underwent natural fermentation, no additives and no sulfur addition.
  • The wine was racked from the gross lees and kept on its fine lees for bottling.
  • Bottled in November 2018.
  • Op sy moer translates as “sur lie” or “on the lees”, meaning instead of going their separate ways, the wine and the lees stay in touch for some light flirting. By keeping it on the lees, the wine is better preserved and during maturation a richness and texture develops with secondary aromas and flavors giving the wine more complexity.
Winemaker's Notes
  • Youthful straw color with a slight green tinge.
  • Complex nose of citrus zest, pineapple and a slight nuttiness. Fresh, vibrant palate, with good texture and a long creamy finish.
  • This is a wine that will keep evolving in the glass.
  • For best results store cork down and 3-5 days before enjoying, turn the bottle cork up to allow the lees to settle. Decant slowly.
Wine Summary

Made from 45% Grenache Blanc, 28% Palomino, 27% Chenin Blanc; Vines are old non-irrigated bush; vineyard soils are table mountain sandstone; whole bunch pressed and fermented in barrel; aged sur lie, bottled November 2018.

Technical Information
  •          45% Grenache Blanc, 28% Palomino, 27% Chenin Blanc
  •         Alcohol: 11.5 %
  •         Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/l
  •         Total Acid: 6.6 g/l
  •         pH: 3.07


92+ Points

An intensely cerebral wine, the 2018 Op Sy Moer is a blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 28% Palomino and 27% Chenin Blanc. A natural wine, it was produced sur lie, unfined and unfiltered, which appears in the glass as a murky core. On the nose, there is a mineral-rich essence and bright citrus tones, a slight nuttiness and elements of endive and arugula. Medium-bodied, it incredibly has an almost electric mid-palate with vibrant acidity and textural, mineral tension that is both complex and ethereal. The wine continues to unfold and unpack its secrets, offering up layers of citrus tones with dusty essences that summersault across the long, lingering finish. I’m simply awestruck with this wine and how food friendly it is, making this one of the best natural wines that I have tasted this year! It contains 11.5% alcohol.  2021 – 2028

© Wine Advocate, May, 2021

General Info

Country South Africa
Region (1) Costal Region (2) Cape South Coast
Appellation(s) (1) Stellenbosch, Darling (2) Elgin
Proprietor Neil Ellis
Founded 1993
Winemaker Warren Ellis
Annual Production 50,000 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Sustainable