(2019) One year in 500-litre barrels and foudre for this wine, made from several vineyards in the Swartland. Fine, bloody and delicately meaty nose, exotic fine spices, a touch of rose and bracken character. The palate ripe and sweet fruited. Such lovely tannin structure, a firm and steely backbone and long, pure fruit, tannin and acid balance.
(2019) Elim fruit is the source for this bottling. Very cool climate aromatics with a lovely perfume flitting between game and a floral, violet notes, peppery and herby, but there's a sense of the fruit being ripe and juicy beneath. No new oak. Such a taut, lean profile, pure and ripe fruit, a really lovely cool climate Syrah.
(2019) In the blend 60% comes from a 1992 Swartland vineyard, fermented in concrete, the rest from a 1982 Darling vineyard fermented in barrel. A nice coffee and cream note to the soft, spicy, lightly truffle character, the palate also soft in terms of the creamy berry fruit, but there’s a real firmness to tiny dry berries, but that spice, fine, tannins and a surge of clean lemony acidity. Lovely.
(2019) Made with 30% whole bunches and very little interference to allow the natural extraction without too much force. Marelise thinks this is the best grape in South Africa. Dryland bush vines in Swartland, though there is also Botriver coming on stream, and a little in this blend. Light, elegant perfume, some nuttiness and dry reducurrant fruit. There is terrific crunch here, with spicy orange peel and clove, but that run of dry, small red berries carries through it. A leaner, more taut style, but I really enjoyed this.
(2016) Love the extra ounce of ripeness and lusciousness on the nose over the 2004. Still herbal and with delicious kick of acids and pepper and earthy spice, but more glossy fruit. The palate has intense concentration. A really grippy, but arguably finer wine, with that smoother texture and sweetness so appealing.
(2016) A light herbal fragrant note to this, seems lighter and a little less substantial than some of the previous vintages. Certainly spicy and cedary, and has fruit but an elegance because of that lighter body, and it is delightful to drink now.
(2016) A Collumella in a more up font, fruit-forward and glossy, rounded style, but that herb and briar, earth and spice note is there, hints of truffle and undergrowth. The palate has a really firm stripe of liquorice tannin and taut acidity with so much juiciness and precision, but this one needs time for the structure to soften just a touch.
(2016) Gorgeous fragrance here, the cedar and gentle floral notes, the violet and lift of kirsch, some coffee and chocolate, but it's one of those where the fruit drives the palate, loaded with dry, smooth tannins and acidity, but such a plush picture of natural concentration and balance.
(2015) From a single vineyard on a steep schist covered slope in Swartland, François describes this as "completely hands-off winemaking," matured in old 800-litre barrels without any movement for 25 months. More meatiness, more woodsmoke and game, peppery but deeply fruity. The palate has more richness and a drier, and again more meaty character that is terrific.
(2015) I attended a 10-year vertical tasting of Columella with Eben Sadie in Cape Town in September 2015, which I will write up soon, showing the consistently marvellous quality of this wine that so accurately reflects each vintage's growing conditions. This is the currently available wine, with a gorgeous fragrance of cedar and gentle floral notes, the violet and lift of kirsch, some coffee and chocolate, but it's one of those wines where the fruit drives the palate, loaded with dry, smooth tannins and acidity, but such a plush picture of natural concentration and balance. A great wine with 10 years ageing potential.