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News

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Winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger has joined other talented young Cape winemakers in their quest to re-introduce cabernets that are lent berried elegance from cinsaut, a practice that produced many of the long-lived cabs of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s of the last century.

This makes the Revenant title of this False Bay Vineyards red particularly relevant, just as it applied to the maiden wine in this range, the blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc, which made a stellar debut.

Revenant Red 2017 is the second, combining 80% cabernet from vineyards varying in age from 10 to 15 years with grapes from cinsaut bush vines up to 40 years old.

The cab harvest was slow fermented with natural vineyard yeasts, was foot-stomped twice daily after a three-day whole-bunch carbonic fermentation. The cabernet and cinsaut were aged separately for nine months in older oak before being blended and then matured in 600 litre barrels for a year before bottling.

The nose presents vibrant red fruit aromas, while the palate is well-balanced, with quite firm tannins and is medium-bodied with moderate 13,5% alcohol levels. As with its predecessor, the wine also reflects something of a light, feminine touch that distinguishes it from most other cabs, a feature that winemaker Nadia integrates into her creations with charming results. At R100 it is also competitively priced in a market where Stellenbosch cabs often command stellar prices. It's certain that many will welcome this rebirth of a classic cab.

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Waterkloof owner Paul Boutinot has established his biodynamic vineyards and cellar on the hillside above False Bay. False Bay Vineyards, his second range, is not biodynamic, but its wines are treated in similar environmentally-friendly ways, using natural yeasts, minimal processing, and sans fining before bottling. 

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Going, going gone! It could be something of a record: The Bruwer family launched their maiden Albariño in Hout Bay on the first Monday in February and by mid-month the last of the 600 cases had sold, both from cellar door and the online shop.

Frustrating both to those Springfield wine fans who didn’t move fast enough and to newcomers who thought they would sample the new addition on their next visit to Robertson.

Better news is that the 2019 vintage is likely to be a little larger in quantity – the grapes were harvested yesterday, February 13, so let me tell you more about this irresistible white wine that the Bruwer family enjoy as much as do those lucky customers who  hugging their case closely to their chests...

Albariño is a new cultivar – new that is to the Cape winelands - but a Spanish varietal widely grown in Galicia, in the north-west. It made its 

 way to Portugal where it's known as Alvarinho, used in vinho verde, familiar to legions of South African travellers to Mozambique, and also to South America where Uruguay produces a fine example, and one that enchanted the Bruwer family while on holiday there. They returned, determined to acquire some vines for their farm.

Luck was on their side as the Newton Johnson family of the Hemel-en-Aarde valley had had similar ideas and kindly offered Springfield some of their cuttings.

These were carefully planted and nurtured, slowly multiplying over three years until a single block was established, and one that meets the demanding standards that Springfield estate sets for their grapes.

Earlier this month Abri, Jeanette and Jenna Bruwer gathered at Hout Bay to host curious media to the official launch of their limited edition Springfield Albariño 2018, its retro front label eye-catching, brick-red writing on a cream background, the language of choice pertinently Spanish, with just a strap at the bottom in English, identifying this unique Robertson estate.

This is a full-bodied wine, yet pleasing in having alcohol levels of just 12,5% . It is unwooded, the grapes having been harvested exactly a year ago. The wine spent more than 3 months on primary lees before bottling. There is complexity in its structure, offering the palate a delightful balance of stone fruit and the flint that wines from this terroir usually display. It’s also as fresh as a daisy without being over-acidic: All in all this South African Albariño yields mouthfuls of deliciousness that are a little redolent of the ocean: one does not need a dish of prawns on the table to know that it will partner shellfish with panache. But it also makes a charming aperitif and I imagine that the Uruguayan Albariño would have a tough time competing with its Cape counterpart.

Just 6 000 bottles of numbered bottles were produced, selling at R115 a bottle  from the cellar door. Perhaps Springfield will start a waiting list after harvest for the 2019 vintage - happily they have assured us that their journey with Albariño has only just begun.

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Popular and prolific wine and food writer and broadcaster Michael Olivier has just launched the first of a new series of podcasts, featuring noteworthy wines he regards as worthy of special attention. Called Michael's Minute of Wine, each podcast will be pithy and informative, both characteristics his legions of followers have come to expect.

 

The series kicked off this week with Asara’s The Bell Tower 2013, a fine Bordeaux style blend from the historic Stellenbosch estate in the Polkadraai Hills. The podcast  offers listeners an informative and tempting portrait of this  flagship , voiced in clear and simple terms that do not require specialist knowledge to absorb.

If you missed it you will find it at http://bit.ly/2DZx9XZ. Visit Michael’s website at www.michaelolivier.co.za for this and many more wine stories, suggested pairings with recipes from local foodie and up-to-date events across the South African winelands. He also reviews new cookbooks and new non-fiction that he has enjoyed.

 

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The Platter’s 2019 SA Wine Guide by Diners Club International was launched, as usual, in November. Its dusky pink cover manages to be another first, its 712 pages means it’s quite a lot fatter than the 2018 edition and, as usual, its meticulous editor and his team and publisher Jean-Pierre Rossouw have produced another indispensable handbook for the wine industry.

A total of 90 five-star wines for 2019 were announced and the hghest-scoring in each category was named the category Wine of the Year.

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The top accolade, Winery of the Year was expanded to encompass three pinnacles of winemaking: The Newcomer Winery of the Year recognises the cellar that records the best results as a first-time participant in the guide. Erika Obermeyer Wines was the recipient, and it was indeed so satisfying to see this talented, determined solo player receive the recognition she richly deserves. Mullineux winery scooped the award for Top Performing Winery of the Year, having built up an impressive track record in the years that the pair have produced wines in their Swartland cellar. The third accolade, the Editor’s Award went to Newton Johnson Vineyards in Upper Hemel-en-Aarde which is sure to be a hugely popular choice, given both the scintillating and consistent quality of their wines and the popularity of the producing family.

The 2019 edition also introduces 100-point scores, alongside the ‘Platter’s Stars’. This global standard, now combined with the Platter’s own star-rating system, should give international readers a better understanding of the Platter judges’ assessments.

For the rest, the usual popular and essential features are there, although one new icon will be very popular with winelovers seeking out wines produced from vines 35 years or older. The Old Vine Project has taken off both here and overseas, and it is thought that this country posseses more surviving old vines than any other in the world. The quality of many of the wine that are being produced from these survivors is little short of stupendous.

There is a wealth of information on routes, cellars, restaurants and more for travelers to the winelands, and the maps seem to be clearer than last y ears. The RRP is R270.

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Wine of Malgas is the phrase under the Sijnn name on the contemporary labels. A name long connected with holiday homes, great angling and a venerable ferry, but now also a wine ward with a single cellar producing singular, exceptional and delicious wines.

The black and white photograph below graphically illustrates the stony path – well, a road of sorts – to the low cellar with its curved roof .

A trio of recent releases took me right back to the memorable evening when the cellar, nearly but not quite complete, opened its doors to visitors for a celebration –

 

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Founder and co-owner David Trafford took us through the young vineyards where bush vines had settled as part of the indigenous landscape, among two distinct soils which vie for sheer quantities of stone they carry . They did not deter vines from not only surviving, but thriving in this apparently inhospitable climate with its low rainfall and constant wind.

The Breede river made a  blue and placid contrast as, far below, it snaked around hills and through dales on its last 25km to the Indian Ocean.

During that evening I sampled the maiden vintage of Sijnn White, and became a fan for life. As I have said before, more than once, white blends, especially when chenin-based are perhaps the Cape’s finest achievement . The Sijnn example is not only as fine as any other but offers unique characteristics that can be attributed to both terroir and minimalist handling.

 

 

 

 

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The team has now released the Sijnn white 2017 and, unsurprisingly, this is what I opened first, knowing well that I was going to savour every sip.

Comprising 84% chenin, 13% viognier with roussanne making the remaining 3% , this is the 10th vintage , from vines now 12 and seven years old. A good year for the vintage. grapes were picked early, some bunch- pressed the balance basket- pressed. The wine was fermented in French oak, of which 11% was new, for 10 months before being lightly fined and bottled, unfiltered, in December 2017.

The wine is golden straw-coloured, with a nose presenting wafts of fruit sparked with wild fennel. On the palate, layers of complex flavour to relish, some peach  and a little lemon, overlaid with dusty spices which don't  mask the essential  freshness. I did not detect as much fruit as the tasting notes suggest, but came across a subtle wildness – herbs and minerals – with hints of maritime brine. Irresistible .

Their tasting notes suggest that its ideal on its own or with fish and seafood. Agreed. But it’s also a white that can enhance several Cape Malay classics, -including bobotie, especially when made with fish, chicken curry and chicken breyani. R280 at the cellar.

Sijnn Reds 2011 and 2015

 

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The 2015 vintage is acknowledged as one of the Cape’s finest, and equally so for Sijnn, where the wine was made in the stone cellar for the first time, avoiding the long journey to Stellenbosch. It was also winemaker Charla Haasbroek’s maiden vintage as she produced the 2015 Red using 47% syrah, 19% touriga nacional, 19% trincadeira, finished with nearly equal quantities of mourvèdre and cabernet. The vines, now 10 and 11 years old reaching maturity and – with the weather playing its part – the harvest was picked and sorted early, fermented in small open tanks and oak vats. Natural fermentation preceded a basket pressing and malolactic fermentation in 225 litre French oak for the first year. Bottled by hand in December 2016, unfined and unfiltered.

Already hugely enjoyable, but worth squirreling away as well, the freshness is there, no cultivar dominating; on the palate concentrated fruit and a little fennel well balanced by tannic structure. Spicy, rich and with a long finish, it features . alcohol levels of  just over 14%, This wine  calls for red meat given gourmet treatment, but will also complement rich dishes based on black mushroom. R350 from the cellar.

Because it took a while to open up and show its charms, the 2011 Sijnn Red has been released only now. The year saw a dry windy summer and the vines were irrigated during the growing and again during the ripening process, but otherwise left to themselves. Back in Stellenbosch the grapes were crushed into open tanks and oak vats. Spontaneous natural fermentation followed with maturation  in barrel for two years before bottling in January 2013. The nose says Malgas, the palate is rich with firm tannins and its easy to see this is a wine that will go on offering enjoyment for several years to come. The wildness of venison and game birds will be enhanced by this blend – with syrah comprising over half along with 19% touriga nacional, 17% each of trincadeira and mourvèdre,  finished with 6% each trincadeira and cab. It sells for R250 at the cellar door.

Finally, a word of appreciation to the team who compiled the information: well-written, concise and accurate, comprising everything a reviewer would like to know. If all the spec sheets and releases that come my way were as smart as these, my emails would be reduced by half.

For more info see www.sijnn.co.za

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