South Africa 2019 – Regional Profiles

In the final part of our four-part series, we round up wines tasted at a series of ‘speed-dating’ style tastings where I met briefly with winemakers to taste their wines. Mini-profiles of dozens of estates follow, from four regions.

Constantia

ConstantiaNow a southern suburb of Cape Town, it is fitting that we start in Constantia. With its first wine estate founded in 1685, it is the oldest of the Cape’s wine regions. At around six kilometres from the Atlantic, this is a cool region with no drought, and little need to irrigate. In this section I will also include Cape Point Vineyards, very near neighbours, just slightly further south moving down the Cape Peninsula.

Klein Constantia

And what better place to start in Constantia than one of the estates that formed part of those original vineyards (and which has Bordelaise wine royalty, Bruno Prats and Hubert de Boüard, as co-owners). Managing Director Hans Astrom is actively replanting 1980s and 90s vineyards with virus free bush vines. “We are micro-gardening,” he says, “because we have the labour to do so.” Klein Constantia is imported by Mentzendorff.

Read tasting notes on 7 wines from Klein Constantia

(2019) Super fresh, bright and elegant Sauvignon, a touch grassy, but beautifully clean and limpid, a real tangerine and lime brightness to the acidity, delicious and long, a really well balanced and pure expression.
(2019) Seems a touch leesy, wth a citrus peel touch of gripiness, but really it is still about the freshness and fruit refinement, from higher blocks this is also naturally fermented, with a richer, slightly earthier character, good mouthfeel, and still that long, tapering finish. Very bittersweet tang.
(2019)
A touch of wood for this, 500-litre neutral barrels, from a single vineyard right at the top of the hill. The creaminess and a touch of flint on the nose, a really juicy palate, chalky and lightly saline in the finish, with penty of grapefruit, lovely acidity and balance. This finishes with lovely precision again, the natural yeast ferment helping give it presence. This vintage is sold out at Lay & Wheeler.
(2019)
Cabernet Sauvignon is 44% of this blend, with 29% Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Plum and cedar, with a touch of bloodiness, a touch of iron oxide ferrous character. Dry and plummy on the palate, it is savoury and chewy.
(2019)
The Anwilka esate is actually in Stellenbosch, once a separate property before merging with Klein Constantia. This is 52% Syrah, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot. Much more minty ripeness, chocolate and mulberry than the Estate Red, a depth of blue-black fruit. The palate has a lot more fruit sweetness too, nicely textured and not heavy or extracted, but full and ripe. Tannins are very smooth and taut, cherry skin dry acids give it a long finish.
(2019)
Residual sugar is 172g/l here. Just gorgeous on the nose, the depth of the bouquet from the bush-vine Muscat, the heavy florals, sumptuous exotic Sandalwood and and lychee and marmalade. Heavenly perfume. Botrytis is deliberately avoided if at all possible, as only late-harvest grapes are desired. The palate has great silky richness, thick texture and nectarine, such lovely freshness and acidity, again that lick of saltiness adding to that clarity.
(2019)
There are 160g/l of sugar here, and the deeper colour is matched by slightly deeper aromas, still so much florals, a little bit of a leafy herbal character, but the underpinning of stone fruit juiciness is fabulous. The palate has also developed a toffee note of creaminess, trading that against the 2015's vibrancy, but it makes for a hugely overwhelming sensory experience, flavour, texture, the aroma each time you lift the glass to our nose. Fabulous.

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Constantia Glen

Over the ridge from Klein Constantia, on the much more recently developed northern side of the valley, this Bordeaux-focused estate is imported by Berry Bros. & Rudd.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Constantia Glen

(2019) Stainless steel fermented, this is a juicy, ripe take on Sauvignon, a bit more herbaceous than the Klein Constantia, a little more weight and leesy texture too. There’s a green bean oiliness to the texture and flavour, dry, full textured and juicy.
(2019) Blend of 70% Sauvignon and Semilion made it 600l barrels, around 18% new. A small percentage is made in clay amphora. Subtle, nutty character, great crispness to the nose - crunchy apple and lemon, but a sheen of sophistication. Deliciously tangy orange and lemon fruit and acidity.
(2019) Mostly Merlot, with around 35% of the two Cabernets, matured in French oak, around 28% new, the remainder 2nd and 3rd fill. There’s a leafiness here, and earthy and lightly bloody character to the plum fruit. Bittersweet plum, chocolate and cherry with a bit of chicory bitterness adding to the gastronomic appeal. Very ripe in the mouth.
(2019) All five Bordeaux grapes, quite an equal split between the varieties. There’s a sophisticated sheen here, cedar and graphite, that touch of bloody game character and then plenty of plum and cherry fruit. It shares the Three's bittersweet bite of chicory and liquorice, but stays juicy, the tannins ripe and smooth and the acidity nicely cutting the weight and opulence of the fruit.

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Beau Constantia

Also on north-east slopes, planted only in 2003 after fire destroyed the native vegetation, Beau Constantia produces just 45,000 bottles per year. Imported by Vindependents.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Beau Constantia

(2019) A blend of 86% Sauvignon with Semillon, named after the owner. A nicely restrained nose, the elegance of the understated Sauvignon character with 1/3 new oak, 1/3 second fill oak, 1/3 Noblot cement tank. There’s an interesting herbal - but not herbaceous character here - beautifully textured and concentrated, a yellow plum fleshiness and lots of lime rind texture and weight. A mouth filling wine, but lovely acidity. Note price and stockist at time of review are for an earlier vintage.
(2019) 100% Viognier from three blocks with different aspects, giving quite different characters, one shaded and the others facing the sun. 50/50 maturation in new French and second fill oak. Very good Viognier character, lots of ripe peach and nectarine fruit, a clean pear acidity and finishes full but not overwhelming. Price and stockist at time of review is for an earlier vintage.
(2019) Right Bank style blend, with a nice 60% merlot but nice Cab Franc herbal and olive character, set against massive amounts of cassis and minty/chocolate ripeness. There’s load of coffee and plum, but the sweetness never varies, a fairly massive wine, sumptuous in style, creamy tannins and soft acidity making it easy to drink despite the high alcohol.
(2019) A bllend of 49% Shiraz with Bordeaux varieties. A slightly cooler character, with game and pepper dominating over the meaty and dark fruit. Good grip and structure here, a stony gravel tension to the wine that again offsets the ripe, perfumed black fruit very nicely.

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Buitenverwachting

One of my favourites estates to visit with its excellent facilities, Buitenverwachting’s vineyards all face south with less sun exposure and cooler conditions, so 70% is planted to Sauvignon Blanc. Other estates with warmer sites have diversified from what was once Constantia’s main grape. Berkmann is the UK importer.

Read tasting notes on 6 wines from Buitenverwachting

(2019) Clean, fresh pear fruit, lemony and bright, a whisper of herbaceous character, but clean and understated. Very pure and limpid lemon and melon fruit, edging into the tropical, but staying very pure and with a real ripeness and sweetness at its core that is lovely.
(2019) From the highest part of the property, there’s more elderflower here in this unlabelled and recently bottled sample. There’s a real punch of sweetness to the fruit, and possibly a touch of residual sugar, set against sweeping acidity that has a green edge, quite mineral and finishes balanced and dry. Price and stockist at time of review are for the previous vintage.
(2019) Fermented in barrel, then only around 10% new oak for maturation. A nice bold style, with plenty of vibrant punch and a nicely managed style wth some oak and buttery richness, but a shimmering freshness.
(2019) Nicely perfumed here, a touch of cherry and kirsch to earthier and plummy black fruit. There’s a firm edge to this, a tart plum skin rasp of acidity and tannin. Two and a half years in used French oak.
(2019) A lovely perfume here, buoyant black berries, ripe and full-bodied, there’s just the faintest touch of green in the background, but that is perfectly a pointe here, because the chocolate-ripe fruit is what drives this wine. Smoky and chalky tannins, a great ripe character, chewy but. Not at all tough or extracted. A lovely wine.
(2019) 100% Petit Verdot. Very juicy and black fruited, delightful graphite character, really perfumed, there’s a little floral lift here, the palate silky textured and smoothly fruited, with tight, apparent tannins, juicy acids and it drinks very well. Lovely juiciness, but a tight finish. 32 months in new French oak. Only available at the cellar door.

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Groot Constantia

Also part of that original 1685 vineyard, the historic Groot Constantia is an export-driven operation which, in 2003, revived production of their own homage to the original Constantia dessert wine, called Grand Constance. In the UK through Hallgarten.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Groot Constantia

(2019) Bordeaux blend, matured in a mix of 225-, 500- and 3000-litre barrels. Highly aromatic, wth lots of pencil shavings and cedar, very pure black fruit, that little floral touch perhaps fro the Petit Verdot. On the palate, lots of cedar and smoky oak influence supporting the fruit. Dry tannins and a juicy cherry haracter to the acids, giving his plushness but with a firm finish with good tension. Merlot 44%, Cabernet Franc 32%, Cabernet Sauvignon 21%, Petit Verdot 3%.
(2019) Pepper, spice and ashy characters, quite perfumed again with a little floral lift. Quite grippy, meaty and still has that peppery, quite leathery grip. There’s a balsamic character too, then that ripeness of fleshy, supple black fruit drives the finish.
(2019) The style of this wine has evolved over the years in an attempt to make it more elegant and softer. Has a touch of watercolour paintbox, plenty of vibrant black fruit, edgy on the palate with good acidity and a rasp of plum and blueberry skin tartness, this drinks well, with softness yes, but still a firm, bittersweet bite.
(2019) Like the Vin de Constance from neighbouring Klein Constantia this is made from Muscat de Frontignan. It's a rather different wine though, a much deeper colour than the Vin de Constance, and a lovely but more one dimensional nose perhaps, with flowers and a slightly more figgy ripeness. Lovely palate, super-sweet, 180g/l of residual sugar. More full bodied and powerful, more caramel and toffee, and spice, tobacco and marmalade, but not quite the complexity. Price for a half bottle.

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Steenberg

One of the most southerly farms in Constantia, again the focus is on white wines here, which account for around 70% of production. Imported by Bibendum.

Read tasting notes on 3 wines from Steenberg

(2019) All Chardonnay. Very yeasty and fresh, quite a lemony and floral character, a lighter aperitif style, summery and crisp with lots of citrus and apple brightness. A straightforward style, and well made.
(2019) Intensely aromatic, a selection of grapes from two small blocks. There is obvious concentration here, a melon and lime-skin gripiness, the palate also full and textured, a limpid and creamy mouthfeel, a big grapefruit and pithy acid grip too, a full-throttle example, with masses of texture and flavour. Is it a little overwhelming? It’s certainly a singular expression of Sauvignon Blanc. I cannot find a UK retail listing for this wine at time of review.
(2019) Aged in 55% French oak the rest in used barrels. Again good perfume here showing some cherry and pepper and spice, moving into chocolate on the palate, there is a gravelly, chewy structure here, but definitely enough fruit to balance.

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Cape Point Vineyards

Not, of course in Constantia, but Cape Point is a lone property in an area that is basically a southerly extension of the region, with Steenberg just to the north. Winemaker Riandri Visser recognises she had big shoes to fill when taking over from the much-lauded Duncan Savage, but says “There’s no point in trying to fill Duncan’s shoes, so I decided just to do my own thing.” Some wines directly exported to The Wine Society and M&S.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Cape Point Vineyards

(2019) Blending fruit from Cape Point and Darling. All stainless steel with a little bit of skin contact and lees ageing. Has that melon and citrus skin note, plenty of fruit density on the palate, very refreshing minerality. A squirt of lemon juice and saltiness is very refreshing. I cannot see a UK stockist for this at time of writing.
(2019) All from estate vineyards on decomposed sandstone and granite, made in steel. A small proportion of Semillon blended in. A nice gentle leafiness, rounded more weighty than the Cape Town bottling, apple and lime fresh fruit. Textured, with still a very crisp and vibrant acidity driving the palate.
(2019) From three specific plots, barrel-fermented with 3% Semillon. There is a richness and creaminess here, a little gravelly character that reminds me of Pessac. Lime marmalade, a charm about the fresh and ripe fruit, but the acidity and sheer, clean finish, rounded by a touch of barrel, makes for a terrific wine. No retail stockists in the UK at time of review.
(2019) A single block on a very exposed site, blending Sauvignon and 24% Semillon. 600-litre barrels for the SB, clay amphora for the Semillon. Blended into barrel and then steel for ageing. Riandri says the berries are tiny and taste salty when you taste them from the vine. Delicious leesy, rich style, lanolin and cream, but a gravel character again and lime skins and juice. The palate is so intense, with loads of grip and texture, pithy and dry, but juicy and salty into a long finish. A terrific wine and the one that cemented Cape Point's reputation, so what a shame that again I can see no UK retailers at this time.

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Robertson

Robertson wineA generally hot area, more inland and a little further away from ocean influence, Robertson is a prime region for sparkling wine grapes and production, good diurnal shift (hot days/cool nights), ensuring grapes that are fully ripe, but also retain acidity. That suits production of MCC, but also big and ripe reds and richer Chardonnays and similar styles. Soils vary from alluvial along the Breede River valley, to lime and gravel towards the Karoo.

De Wetshof

One of the most familiar names of Robertson, and one of its bigger producer, where Chardonnay is king and sons Johann and Peter now assist dad Dannie de Wet. Imported by Ellis.

Read tasting notes on 5 wines from De Wetshof

(2019) Limestone and clay soils provide plenty of super ripe and sweet fruit, a little touch of flintiness too, but stays fruity and bright to the finish. Very nicely done.
(2019) From a single vineyard on limestone, this spends 100 days on the Lees. A golden, glowing apricotty nose, and terrific creaminess though it is unoaked, the palate so bold and fruit-driven, with lots of mineral salts.
(2019) Twelve months in oak, all French, neutral and medium toast. Exotic spice, nutty, seeds and oatmeal over golden plum and citrus. There's great fruit focus here, oranges and limes and that creamy toast background and persistent sweetness. Long and distinguished.
(2019) Wild yeast, but a very bright nose, clean, citrus and bright stone fruit, old oak not masking the freshness and focus of the fruit. One vineyard picked early to retain the lemony freshness and a little of the wilder, drier, almost Chablis-like modern style. This label of the de Wet family appears not to have UK retail availability at time of review.
(2019) Matured in 20% new barrels, only made in best vintages. Slightly funky, peppery quality, a green character, bit of silkiness though, rounded, pure fruit, supple and long, very much drives the finish. No retail availability in the UK at time of review.

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Springfield Estate

Another name very familiar to UK drinkers especially via their big-selling ‘Life from Stone’ Sauvignon. The fourth generation now runs this family business. Imported by Bibendum.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Springfield

(2019) Wild fermented and going through 100% malolactic fermentation, it has a lovely nose, the touch of truffle to the creamy soft oak and such sweetness, a real purity of ripe fleshy peachy, but has thrilling acid balance.
(2019) Two years in French oak. Proper cab nose, a touch of balsamic and leafy green, plenty of juiciness, loads of free running plum juice and black cherry skins, a nice exotic hint of flowers and herbs.

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Arendsig

A family-owned farm, producing only single-vineyard wines using wild yeasts and only neutral vessels for fermentation and ageing. With Enotria in the UK.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Arendsig

(2019) Made in foudre with a small proportion in barriques, natural ferment and barrels at least eight years old, on the lees for 11 months. A creamy and nutty, gently toasty character, a deep golden glow. Massive fruit sweetness, hinting at tropical and banana, but theres a lovely acid structure here, driving through with salty and fresh lemon zest.
(2019) Really bright cherry fruit edging into jaminess, a hint of nutty character and spice. The palate becomes quite pure and fresh, tannins slick and acids are cherry-ish, fine spice, dry cranberry. Long and fine.

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Rietvallei

Another beautiful estate, and one intrinsically bound to Robertson where they are ninth generation farmers. Imported by Dreyfuss Ashby.

Read tasting notes on 3 wines from Rietvallei

(2019) Sweet creamy oak, lots of bold, creamy sweet fruit, the palate very harmonious, there is a nod towards sweet peach, but an orchard fruit cool focus, well handled subtle oatmeal, and very good acid structure. Not available in retail in the UK.
(2019) Matured in second-fill French oak for 9 months. A little herbaceous pea-pod and green bean, the palate bursting with crisp but sweet and bright fruit and the creaminess of the oak adding a touch of figgy richness. Not available in retail in the UK.
(2019) Again, no UK retail availability for this at time of review. 24 months in all new French oak, 300-litre barrels. Delightful nose, no sign of greenness, bold black fruit and red liquorice, the palate has a touch of bloodiness and a very long finish.

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Mont Blois

An estate that historically specialised in sweet Muscadelle, recently restarted, still with Muscadelle within an expanded range. With Dreyfuss Ashby.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Mont Blois

(2019) From limestone soils, plenty of flint and mineral touches to open stone fruit aromas, a bit of wild yeast funk. The palate has great acid structure, a beautiful core of yellow plum and lemon zest fruit.
(2019) With 250g/l of residual sugar this is essentially unfermented grape juice fortified to 16% alcohol, and it is powerful stuff. Magical nose, punches with floral, almost geranium fragrance, toffee but loads of ripe sweet nectarine, thick and honeydew flavours with very good sweetness and acid balance. Price for 50cl.

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Quando

Brothers Fanus and Martin Bruwer (everyone seems to be a Bruwer in Robertson) produce only Sauvignon Blanc. With Dreyfuss Ashby.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Quando

(2019) Yes, 2008 is correct, from this Sauvignon-focused operation that wants to prove the variety's ageability. Three months on the lees. Toasty, lemony, very much like an old Semillon with fabulous flavour and fruit. Great lengrh and natural sweetness. No UK stockist for this vintage at time of review.
(2019) The same vineyard that produced the 2008 tasted alongside. Very light, just a touch of minerals and soft leafy herbs, but no astringent greenness. Real fruit sweetness, a brilliant bold citrus, edging into tropical, and then the sheer acidity pushing through.

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Robertson Winery

This is the big co-op of the valley, established in 1941 in an abandoned community church, converted for winemaking operations. With New Generation Wines.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Robertson Winery

(2019) Full, ripe and rich, but a little game note as well as plenty of toasty oak influence. Sweet and bold, cherry jam and a good acidity, a rustic edge of tannin.
(2019) Plenty of fat, rich, sunshine fruit and full creamy and buttery vanillin oak. Loads of big Chardonnay sweetness, and delicious if you like that style.

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Weltevrede

The Jonker familyt have been vine growers since 1933, now bottling their own wines from a substantial 160 hectare estate. Imported by Harley Wines.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Weltevrede

(2019) 60% chardonnay, 40% Pinot with 12g/l residual sugar, this spends 18 months on the lees. There's a sparky herb freshness to this, plenty of racy glacé lemon, in a brisk but satisfying style.
(2019) Nine  months French and American oak. Big, buttery golden Chardonnay, plenty of golden sweet fruit, toast and creaminess. Fabulously old school, but great fun if you hanker after that style. No UK stockists at time of review.

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Paul René

The first of two estates dedicated to MCC traditional method sparkling wines, spending a minumum of 20 months on the lees. With Wine Rooms Kensington

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Paul René

(2019) Both this and the Brut spend 24 months on the lees and have around 8g/l dosage. Very nice yeast and biscuity, crisp apple nose from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. A very crisp and dry style. Pithy lemon dryness, a very high acid style, the dosage just off-setting.
(2019) All Chardonnay. Big Champagne nose, nettle and bruised fruit, a touch of biscuit. The palate has lots of lemon and crunchy apple, a touch of flint, long, but again a fizz on the more sharply defined spectrum.

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Lord’s

In the McGregor Valley at 500-metres altitude, Lord’s does produce still wines, but the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir MCCs were the focus here. No UK distribution at time of writing for these excellent wines.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Lord's

(2019) Everything hand-made, including riddling by hand. From highest vineyards in Robertson at 500 metres. All Pinot Noir, zero dosage. Around 18 months on the lees. A little meatiness and toastiness and plenty of creamy red berries. Lovely fruit sweetness and the ripeness makes for an effortless zero dosage wine.
(2019) The blend is 70% chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and again, zero dosage. Very Champagne-like, with lots of sour lemon and bruised fruit, massive fruit sweetness on the palate, but a terrific mineral and salts acid focus into a long finish. Hugely impressive.

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Breedekloof

BreedekloofAs one of the Cape’s newest and smallest appellations, Breedekloof has a rising reputation for bottled wines. The terroir is varied, largely thanks to the effect of the twin geographic features of the Breede River and Badsberg Mountains, and today there are around 20 wine producers, almost all old family farms. The region is setting out its stall as a Chenin Blanc stronghold – Breedekloof claims to provide fruit for 20% of all of the Cape’s Chenin production. A focus here was The Chenin Blanc Initiative, where members guarantee to make at least three special barrels each year that express something singular about the region and variety. As a relatively new quality bottled wine region, most of these wines are not yet listed in the UK.

Slanghoek

Established in 1951, Slanghoek is situated in the Slanghoek Valley at 800m above sea level. It is a large cellar that makes wines for several brands.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Slanghoek

(2019) From 30-year-old vines, fermented and aged 20 months in French oak, 50% new, lees stirred to get creaminess. There’s a little exotic fruit character here as well as the creamy oatmeal of the barrel and lees. 4.5g/l of RS, makes it approachable and easy to drink, but good acid balance. No UK retailers at time of review.
(2019) This has 8% Muscat de Alexandre in the blend and is late harvested with a little botrytis, vines 30- to 45-years-old. It is made in stainless steel and has 91.3g/l of residual sugar. Oranges and lemons, and a creamy texture, medium-sweet, but rich, with loads of preserved fruit concentration and that slight smokiness. Quite long with good acid balance. Not in the UK at time of review.

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Bergsig

Sited at the top of the valley, where it is at its narrowest and cool as wind funnels through. Family winegrowers in this valley since 1743.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Bergsig

(2019) This vineyard planted in 1985. Made in second and third-fill barrels which had been used as new barrels for Chardonnay. Nice hint of toast and biscuit dough on the nose, butter and lemons. In the mouth a crisp, juicy but ripe apple fruit and acidity, stays quite fat and opulent.
(2019) Only four barrels made, all new French oak, only free-run juice and from a single vineyard. The oak is quite delicate on the aroma, lemon and orange rind and creamy almond. The palate has a lovely structure, a real firmness to the fruit, though there is that hint of toast, it is fresh and strictly defined. No UK stockists at time of review.

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uniWines

The uniWines Group was formed in 2008, combining several wineries and vineyards, to make them the largest wine producer in the Breedekloof.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from uniWines

(2019) 100% Chenin, fermented in 500-litre barrels using both wild and commercial yeast, on the lees in oak, for a total of eight months. Quite fragrant and creamy, with a lovely palate weight and texture, it has a rolling, quite fat fruitiness, but is smooth and generous and finishes well. This should be with Boutinot in the UK from mid-2019.
(2019) Made from Clairette Blanche, planted in 1977. Only one barrel produced, fermented and aged for a total of around nine months, most of it on the lees. Has quite a funky, wild yeast character, though it is inoculated. Leesy and rich, a touch earthy. The palate has great juiciness, a bold limey fruit, good sweetness, and finishes with tight, apple core dry acidity.

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Mountain Ridge Wines

At the top of the valley close to Tulbagh, a co-op of around 17 farmers focused on separately vinifying and marketing selected blocks.

Read tasting notes on 3 wines from Mountain Ridge

(2019) Natural ferments, some skin contact and barrel fermentation. Quite a subtle, nutty note here, over Cox’s Pippin fruit, a touch of fig. The palate has good sweetness, with a touch of RS, and a crowd pleasing palate with good texture and good fruit, a fresh acid finish. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2019) From 36- and 40-year-old vineyards. Partly barrel-fermented, with eight months in oak. Nice greengage and fig notes, plenty of toast and nuttiness, a real juicy rich seam of fruit on this though, touching into mango and peach, and good length. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2019) Fermented in concrete tanks then into Hungarian and French oak for 18 months. Buoyant, floral character, good perfume of cherry and black fruits, a nice dry finish, with good fruit.

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Stofberg Family Cellars and Stofberg Wines

Two labels here, one tiny boutique producer in the shape of Mariëtte Stofberg, and Stofberg Wines, her uncle’s farm which has made wine since 1878.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Stofberg Family

(2019) From a 35-year-old block, 40% whole bunch fermented in French barrels, 20% new. Refined creaminess here, a touch of creamy apple and lemon, quite Chardonnay-like. The palate has a surge of fruit sweetness, good weight and texture, the oak then presenting a nice almond and crushed oatmeal character, with a sweet finish. Only 1,500 bottles produced and no UK retail listing at time of review.
(2019) Spices and toast, from second-fill French oak, a little peachy and pear character, with a lean lime and lemon fruit, a saline character too, the acidity well balanced, and a nice dry, pithy element without being aggressively dry. Long and well-balanced. 1,000 bottles produced, no UK retailer at time of review.
(2019) 70% Sauvignon Blanc this has a herbaceous pea-shoot and asparagus character, moving onto the palate which has a bold fruitiness, plenty of zing and zip in a Marlborough style, that little hint of sweetness to ease the acidity of the finish.
(2019) First wine made in barrel, French oak, but older barrels. Subtle apple and cream, a soft lemon curd note and some spice. There is a flood of confit lemon and sweet fruit here, moving into nectarine, with a long finish, balanced by good clean acidity, a twist of saltiness.

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Jason’s Hill

Mostly a red wine farm, the family have been farming grapes for six generations, but as is common in the Valley, bottling wine only since 2002.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Jason’s Hill

(2019) Made in new Hungarian oak, aged for 13 months, and for 2019 will be adding some amphora elements. Partial wild ferment. Free run juice only. Nice tobacco-like, nutty and toasty nose, but certainly plenty of charry oak. The plate has loads of fruit, a really nice burst of lemon rind moving into peach, then a lovely acid balance. Oak could tame down a little, but a lovely wine. No UK retailer at time of review.
(2019) All five Bordeaux varieties, but half of the blend made up of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Barrel aged. A nice bold fruit character, a spice and cedar note to the blackcurrant fruit, well-handled oak, a wine with a chocolate-rich element and good plushness, a long fruity and spicy finish. No UK retailer at time of review.

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Olifantsberg

Located on the fertile slopes of the Brandwacht Mountains at altitudes ranging from 250m to 450m above sea level. With Hallgarten in the UK.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Olifantsberg

(2019) Grown on shale and aged in foudre with natural ferment, with a little Hungarian oak barriques. Youthful green-tinged wine, with a bold apple fruited nose, clear and nicely pitched open and refined style, a spangle fruit brightness. The palate is beautifully fruited, a lovely creamy and supple style, the ripe fruit sweetness balanced against delightful fresh acidity, oak just warming he finish.
(2019) Grenache Blanc, Chenin, Roussanne, Chardonnay from bush vines. Chardonnay in new barrels. Quite a deep colour, with marmalade and toast, lots of limey depth. On the palate masses of texture and fruit sweetness, a lovely Burgundian-style wine.

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Du Toitskloof Cellar

A co-op established in 1962 with 25 bottled wine in its portfolio, and an accredited Fairtrade producer. With Raisin Social in the UK.

Read tasting notes on 2 wines from Du Toitskloof

(2019) Nine months in French oak. Very nice floral lift to this, then a rush of sweet, ripe fruit, lots of chocolate and bittersweet cocoa to match the supple sweet black fruit. Good length and the juicy lemony acidity and the touch of tannic structure giving a nice grip. No UK retailer at time of review.
(2019) Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot and Pinotage, this spends 25 months in French oak barrels. The palate has juicy freshness and good fruit, a supple style, the oak well-handled and leaving this plush and fruit-driven.

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Swartland

SwartlandSeveral producers from the Swartland were featured in parts I and II of this report, Swartland being the birthplace of South Africa’s ‘vagabond’ movement. Here we have brief profiles and tasting notes for two larger custom-crush/cooperative cellars from the region, able to produce wines in volume, with many of their brands giving Swartland a rare presence on UK supermarket shelves.

Riebeek Valley Wine Co.

Riebeek Valley produces wines under its own Riebeek Cellars label, but also offers a ‘custom crush’ operation for other producers.

Read tasting notes on 3 wines from Riebeek Valley Wine Co.

(2019) Old bush vine Chenin is 50% of the blend with 35% Grenache and 15% Viognier. Lovely perfume here, rose petal and crisp apple blossom. Lots of sour lemon and nutty, but juicy dry apple juice character, very fresh. No Uk retail listing at time of review.
(2019) Grenache Blanc aged in older oak, and barrel-fermented. Much more natural in style, a lightly nutty and a nice savoury character to this - nice texture to, in a mouth-filling wine balancing ripe fruit with a good acid structure, just rounded-out by the creamy oak. No UK retailer at time of review.
(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.

Close tasting notes

Swartland Winery

A co-op established 1948 with 15 members and recently floated as a public company, today over two million cases per year are produced. With Hallgarten in the UK.

Read tasting notes on 4 wines from Swartland Winery

(2019) Unwooded, this is fine, creamy, ripe, really attractive with a lovely bright and welcoming sweet fruit ripeness, A touch of RS, though mostly about sweetness of fruit. Very attractive and easy drinking.
(2019) From 40- to 45-year-old vines, this has creamier, less come-hither fruity character, more oatmeally and leesy. The palate again has very good fruit sweetness but this time swept up in a rush of sour lemon acidity that is mouth watering and gives lovely balance.
(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.

Close tasting notes


Back to Part III: The Estates.  On to Part I: The Vagabonds

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