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(2024) Last time I tasted this wine was the 2014 vintage and indeed, the wine was not made again until the 2019 vintage when Ian could once again access the fruit. Pale in colour and featherweight with 11% alcohol, there's a definite rose-hip and redcurrant lightness to the aromas and on the palate. A little creamy and vanilla nuance from old barrel ageing is way in the background. Firm, small and savoury red fruits with a herbal nuance on the palate dominate in this savoury, dry and light wine with very fine tannins and sour cherry acidity to balance.
(2023) This is a 1978 planting of the rare Barbarossa, of which only a few hectares exist in the world. With eight months maturation, it's a blend of partially dried and fresh grapes, in an Amarone style. Intriguing nose, chestnut and gentle beetroots earthiness, creamy fruit, but brambles and subtle juiciness. There is great juiciness on the palate, ripe black berries and sweetness really pushes through. Good balancing acidity again.
(2019) Made with some staves and a combination of bush vines and trellised vines. Nice little bit of lift, a touch of watercolour paintbox, the palate fruity and bright, lowish acid but a nice grip of roughening tannin.
(2019) Fresh, lightly ashy nose, a little wood component does round it out, but it is quite wild and gamy in character, tobacco and spice, and on the palate good acidity and a rustic bite of tannin, quite long.
(2019) Berries and nuttiness, a light meatiness, plenty of orange and lemon zesty fruit and acidity. There’s a dry, nut juicy character and if this can hit the UK at £8.99 or so it will be a buy - as will the white. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2017) Some wines just don't need to try too hard, and the word that sprang to my mind with this Cinsault from dry-farmed vineyards in the Swartland was 'effortless'. Unoaked, it has such a breezy charm so rarely seen in red wines: a touch of ash, a touch of Indian ink, black cherry lightness of fruit and fleetness of foot. The palate similarly doesn't scream, but doesn't whisper either, with enough gutsy backbone to make it duck-, game- and casserole-friendly, but with that charming approachability and freshness to the fruit. A delightful, serious but unforced red wine. For full information and food matching ideas, watch the video review.
(2015) One third of the grapes were whole-bunch fermented in open fermenters and minimal punch downs. It saw 16 months only in old barrels. Very fine with no jamminess but a fine juicy character, lots of cherry and a hint of spiciness.
(2015) This wine is 20-30% whole bunch fermented and aged in 225-litre barrels for 16 months. Very fine notes of chocolate and soft, smoky oak. Love the soft orange caress of the acidity here, a mellow Pinot.
(2013) Spice route was in fact the Swartland pioneer, when Charles Back of Fairview estate in Paarl launched the label in the late 1990s, with a young Eben Sadie as winemaker. This is made from several varieties, but mainly Syrah (36%) and Mourvèdre (26%), a heady 14.5% abv blend, the components aged individually in a mix of American and French oak casks before final assemblage. It has a rich, thick, plum, blackcurrant and spicy nose, little hints of menthol and sweet earth adding complexity. On the palate it delivers a huge flood of sweet, ripe, glossy black fruit, that washes across the tongue before the kick of spice and pepper punches in. With chocolate-rich tannins and a rasp of plum-skin acidity, this is long, robust and satisfying with spices dominating the finish.
(2013) Twelve months ageing in older barrels for this wine from an organic vineyard, with 10% Shiraz added immediately after fermentation. Around 30-40% is whole bunch. Delightfully dry, nutty Grenache nose, very expressive with dry, dark and dried fruits. The palate has real juiciness, the dry tannins add a nice roughening grip with a good, lively character coming through. Nice and light, very drinkable.
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