(2022) A wine I scored 95/100 when tasted 18 months ago, this was fermented in new French oak barriques with regular lees stirring, followed by 11 months in barrel. It comes from the original 1970s plantings, on gravel over clay soils. It's a riper, bigger style that nods towards the golden Chardonnay era but pulls up way, way short: there's a hint of minty character, but a balancing whisper of flint, and a more tropical fruit quality. Super ripe and sweet fruit on the palate, nectarine and a fat, juicy lemon, an underpinning of nutty oak, but again the acidity streaks through in a classic Old World/New World fusion style.
(2021) All barrel-fermented in new French oak barriques with lees stirring, followed by 11 months in barrel, 100% new Bordelais barriques. From the original 1970s plantings, the fruit absorbs the oak easily, retaining a floral edge to the perfume, cool but dense white fruit, and then a nutty, very lightly smoky barrel note comes through. In the mouth there is real substance here, a real grip with some skin-contact notes, but driving acidity of minerals and lemon pith, a lovely tension in this wine, the oak again just lying quietly beneath, and the tingle and tang of souring lemon acidity along with fresh fruit pushing the finish.
(2021) Villiera began making its Cap Classique in tandem with a Champenoise winemaker with whom they had a 10-year contract, which Jeff Grier says 'saved us re-inventing the wheel'. The Tradition cuvée is composed of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, spending 18 months on the lees. The wine has 8g/l dosage, and includes a proportion of wine from their Reserve Perpetuelle. It opens with plenty of small bubbles and a creamy, nutty character, nice biscuity autolysis and lightly spicy Cox's pippin fruit. The palate walks a lovely line between freshnessand zipping lemon and salts acidity, and a more ripe and rounded mid-palate fruit. Long and beautifully done.
(2020) Chris Alheit bought the fruit from this Stellenbosch vineyard with the purpose of using it in one of his blends, but called the Carinus family to say the quality was too good and it should be bottled separately. And so, this first release of the Polkadraai Chenin Blanc, made by Chris for the family, appeared. Chris ferments this with natural yeasts in concrete 'eggs'. It has a beautifully subtle creaminess on the nose, a subtle floral fragrance too, but that stony, dry, lightly earthy character of the natural ferment is there, maybe a touch of honey in the background. In the mouth there is substantial weight, and substantial concentration too, a cool, intense, ripe apple and fat lemony fruit, that saltiness and stony quality pushing through on the acidity in a wine that is subtle and yet concentrated, with the ripeness of the fruit revealed slowly as you sip. The wine is available in-bond at time of review, so an approximate final price per bottle is quoted.
(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.