Groenekloof is a hilly ward in the Darling district, acknowledged as an outstanding source of sauvignon blanc grapes. It was Neil Ellis who put these hectares on the wine map, and was the first to release results in 1991 with his Groenekloof sauvignon blanc , described as “breathtaking” in the then current Platter guide. Fast forward 24 years and the 2015 sauvignon blanc has kept up the fine reputation, receiving 5 stars in the 2016 Platter guide, one of of just four to attract top honours.
With every justification – the bush vines in the Groenekloof are now 35 years old, are not irrigated, adding to the grapes' intensity, while ocean breezes and fogs help which the ripening season. Neil Ellis has produced a sauvignon that succeeds on every level – combining minerality with herbaceous notes, offering both granadilla and citrus flavours, and retaining that refreshing friskiness alongside elegance. Selling for around R80.
The ward is now revealing its possibilities as source of stunning reds, and no more so than the extraordinary Neil Ellis cinsaut noir 2012 that father and son released at a media tasting late last year. If ever cinsaut needs to prove its capability of becoming the red equivalent of chenin, a sort of Cindarella rags-to-riches cultivar, this is the wine to do so. The bush vines that were the source for this success are 40 years old, and harvesting started in early March. Malolactic fermentation took place in old 500 litre French oak, the wine spent 18 month in barrels, both first and fourth fill. Alcohol levels of 15% do not detract from rave reviews from both London (Tim Atkin) and the USA, (Stephen Tanzer), and local reaction has been on a par. Loads of fruit, especially dark cherry, some spice balanced by tannic backbone, characteristic of cinsaut that has enjoyed TLC, augmented by careful oaking. Chill lightly and enjoy on its own or with venison carpaccio. Not cheap at R275, but connoisseurs have, no doubt, been snapping it up.
To complete the Groenekloof trio, the Neil Ellis Shiraz 2013 won’t disappoint fans, offering classic aromas and berry flavours, along with pepper and whiffs of other spices that recall Cape Malay savoury delights. Expect to pay about R100.
Taste these and other vinous gems at the recently opened Neil Ellis cellar at the start of Helshooste pass outside Stellenbosch. The tasting room is open every day except Sunday, and there are cheese and charcuteries platters to share if you want to make a meal of your visit. Tel: 021 887 0649 or email email@example.com