(2019) What a lovely Bordeaux lookalike this is, blending 60% old vines Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot, and aged in new French oak. There's a rich, primary black berry fruit density on the nose, but spice and hints of game and cedar too, a lovely hint of tertiary development just starting to creep in. In the mouth espresso backs up the seam of blackcurrant, a tingle of clove spice and very polished tannins give volume, and the acidity is excellent, drawing the wine to a long, fine finish.
(2019) From the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, only 650 cases were produced. Barrel fermentation lasted 42 days, then the wine was matured for 18 months in French oak barriques, 30% new. Natural yeast and minimal sulphur. Not at all dominated by the wood, a fragrant, lightly nutty character only, the palate very pure, the oak so refined, with a juiciness, a bright lemon jelly freshness, lovely, finesse and creaminess in the mouth. Stockist and price at time of writing are for the 2015 vintage.
(2019) Fabulous peppery nose, so much floral and wild garrigue character, lots of red plum. The palate has silky sweet fruit at its core, but flooded with basil and bay leaf, meatiness and again that peppery spice. The fruit stays focused and linear at its heart, the taut acid framework and the big, powerful dry tannins give this immense pleasure and a suggestion of great age ability. Aged 12 months in 500-litre French, 25% new, then nine months in foudre.
(2019) Steen is the old name for Chenin Blanc in South Africa. A lot more funkiness than the Klipkop, with melon skins, apple cores and a dry character. Absolutely sparkling fruit sweetness and clarity, a great texture and grip here, a bitter almond oil touch to the finish, smooth and long, though concentrated fruit and pith acids balance out in the finish.
(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) Durbanville, Stellenbosch and Swartland are the sources for this Chenin, with an average vineyard age 42. Old 500-litre barrels and wild yeasts for fermentation. Dry, lightly nutty and citrussy, the palate super dry with pithy dry acidity, lemon and buttery toffee, but fresh citrus into a seamless, long finish.
(2019) Also made in the old Vaselin press, fully oxidised. Several picks through the vineyard on thick clay soils, with a bit of elevation. Whole bunches, no sulphur added during winemaking, and no malolactic. Wild yeast, and only around 5% of the 500-litre oak is new, plus around 7% made in amphora. Such a beautifully subtle, lightly kaolin and earthy character, that oatmeal touch to the orchard fruit, such lovely fragrance. The fruit so opulent and sweet on the palate, but the apple skin tang of the orange and lime.
(2019) Grown on shale in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Only picked the south facing side of each vine for the cool fruit, leaving the rest for the farmer. No punch downs or temperature control. Seven months in old wood. Very pale colour, a very pure perfume here, a super light blackcurrant fruitiness, that pastille character comes from two thirds of the wine being made with carbonic maceration perhaps, the final third natural ferment. Cherry and blackcurrant pastille fruit, so pretty, sweet and light, just great acidity but tannins so chalky and fine, and everything so gentle.
(2019) From the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, made in an old Vaselin press with lots of oxygen, fermented in a foudre using wild yeasts. Gorgeous vanillin smoothness and oatmeal and crushed almond, a creamy apple fruit beneath, a touch of flint. The palate overflows with sweet, ripe nectarine, that superb juiciness and ripeness cut by a shimmering acidity into a long, layered finish.
(2018) One of my all-time favourite wines from Portugal, Mouchão in 2013 is a bit of a stunner. A blend of Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira, foot trodden, and made in a big, old oak vats, it always strikes me as a cross between Burgundy and the Rhône, with the perfume and soulful character of the former, and spice and juicy structure of the latter - while, of course, being entirely its own wine. A beautiful medley of ripe black berries, sweet earth, subtle spicing and floral touches leads on to a palate that is sumptuous and deep, yet light in both texture and its freshness: an alert, life-force of a wine, the tannins and juicy acids giving lots of attack and tension, and suggesting this will only improve with cellaring, but already giving great pleasure with its core of firm, savoury fruit.