(2021) South Africa's most famous exponent of Chenin Blanc, the Old Vine Reserve from Ken Forrester comes from vineyards planted in 1976, and is made in a nicely balanced style where partial barrel fermentation (20% new French oak) adds a lustre to the aromatics and palate, creaminess, light toast and almond over ripe and honeyed fruit. In the mouth there is an expansive texture, creaminess again, but pristine flavours of crisp apple melt into more sweet, tropical tones, before a vivid core of acidity powers the finish. Delicious stuff and versatile: watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. On offer at £13.30 at time of review.
(2021) From a vineyard planted between 1998 and 2000 and a vintage with a cool summer and very little rain, this is 100% Merlot, naturally fermented and matured for 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which were new. A bold, youthful ruby- to crimson, the nose is a little earthy and gamy, lightly spiced, the fruit savoury with some tobacco notes. In the mouth there's a real creaminess to the texture, but its a Merlot with some seriousness and substance. Yes, there is a sweet edge to the fruit, plums and tart black berries, but the chocolaty density of tannins and the good cherry-skin acidity gives gastronomic juiciness.
(2021) like the Sauvignon Blanc in this range, sourced from Elgin, and aged for nine months in French oak barrels. A nice garnet colour, with a little transparency, the nose is suffused with exotic smoky spices, a fragrant red cherry and fruit beneath. In the mouth it is more savoury than the nose suggests perhaps, an earthy, even slightly leathery character, tannins dry but fine and the acidity balancing.
(2021) A blend of 80% Viognier and 20% Roussanne, this is barrel-fermented and aged 10 months in seasoned barrels, with batonnage. It's a vividly fruity and luscious wine, with apricot and nectarine, but also a little bit struck match or flint, an interesting reductive component familar in many Chardonnays, and adding a layer interest here. The oak adds a creamy and gently smoky touch on nose and palate, in the mouth lots of bright, orangey acidity to briskly keep the ripe stone fruits zipping along. Quite long, again the barrel adding some vanilla and texture into the finish.
(2021) From vineyards planted between 1985 and 1986, this is fermented in 228-litre French oak barrels (one third new) and aged for a further 10 months in barrel. It's a lovely style of Chardonnay that balances flinty, complex sulphide character with gently smoky notes and ripe, juicy orchard fruit. The nose has that gunflint and stone quality with a hit of vanillin oak, but fruit is bold too. On the palate a medium- to full texture and creaminess, nuttiness and savoury qualities, plus lemons and apples providing clean fruit and acidity. Quite long too, finishing with tang and vibrancy.
(2021) From vineyards in Stellenbosch, this is noticeably less green and pungent than the Sutherland bottling from Elgin. There is a touch of gooseberry and elderflower, but its more about nectarine and grapefruit, the palate sweet with a lusciousness and mouthfilling texture and juicy stone fruit fleshiness. A nice touch of saltiness adds to the freshness of the finish in a stylish Sauvignon.
(2021) From the cool of Elgin, but quite a full, golden and buttery style, with no sign of the flinty character of Thelema's Stellenbosch Chardonnay. Fermented and matured for 10 months in 228-litre French oak barrels, with regular lees stirring, cerrtainly adds to the hazelnut and buttery-toasty aroma, with zesty citrus fruit beneath rather than anything more tropical, perhaps just a hint of mint too. In the mouth a lovely generous style, weighty texture, keen a fresh citrus and crisp apple fruit and acid, but a more ripe peachiness almost teasing on the mid-palate. Very stylish and a nice counterpoint to the Stellenbosch wine.
(2021) The vineyards here were planted in 2000 and 2001, and the wine comes from a season that began cool, but warmed up during the peak harvesting period with very little rain. It spends 18 months in French barrels, 30% new. It has a meaty, maybe slightly herbaceous character, not too distinctive in terms of fruit profile, more spicy and a touch green. In the mouth it has black fruit, cool acidity and a stripe of tannin that keeps it savoury, if rather lean.
(2021) Elgin is not regarded as a natural home for Cabernet Sauvignon, in theory its cooler climate suiting earlier-ripening varieties rather more. Thelema's Cab was aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new, and fermented with wild yeasts. It is plummy and black cherryish on the nose, quite glossy and supple, a hint of menthol too. In the mouth there's no shortage of ripe, sweet and succulent black fruit, very smooth tannins and a good balance of cherry-skin tart acidity. Not hugely long, but easy to drink, very nicely made, and proves it can be done.
(2021) From a single block, fermented in large concrete tanks with some whole bunches, spontaneous ferment with wild yeasts. The wine spent 14 months in French oak barrels, 28% new. From more sandy soils, this is very pale again, and so gently aromatic, rhubarb and soft, sweet earthy tones, but such a feeling of delicacy, prettiness and freshness too. The palate has a lovely delicate and light-weight palate, with fine texture, very savoury, briary fruit and that dry, earthy and herby finish. Lovely. A 10 year wine according to xxxxx