Lindhorst of South Africa

xThe Old Forge Wine Cellar has just begun to import the wines of Lindhorst Estate in the Paarl district of South Africa, making them available in the UK for the first time. Mark and Belinda Lindhorst gave up the corporate rat-race to set up their winery in 1996, and are closely involved in the day to day running of the farm. Describing their operation as a “specialised boutique winery”, Lindhorst focuses on Shiraz, though some Merlot and Pinotage is planted too. Grapes are hand-picked and yields are deliberately low to ensure quality. Consulting winemaker, Cathy Marshall, gained experience in top South African wineries such as Vergelegen and Ken Forrester, as well as working vintages in Oregon, France and Australia. Virus free clones have been planted under the supervision of Kevin Watt, who’s earlier work included replanting the Rustenberg Estate. Vineyard manager and assistant winemaker, Ernie Wilken, organises his team to pick in early morning, when the grapes are cool.

The wines

Lindhorst (South Africa) Statement 2002
70% Shiraz and 30% Merlot. 2002 was the maiden vintage for Mark and Belinda Lindhorst, who after escaping the corporate rat-race. They bought an old wine farm, and set about a total revamp of vineyards and cellars, to produce just 1,880 cases of Shiraz and Shiraz-dominated wines (plus a tiny amount of Pinotage). This blend has a soaring, powerful nose reminiscent of Port, with super-concentrated raisin and kirsch-like cherry fruit, notes of violet and exotic spice and a massive chocolaty sweetness. On the palate that blockbuster, opulent depth of smooth, creamy fruit powers through, with rich, chocolaty tannins and a lingering, spicy finish. £13.95 The Old Forge Wine Cellar.

Lindhorst (South Africa) Pinotage 2003
Lindhorst’s award-winning Pinotage is very much a modern-style wine. Hand-harvested, very ripe grapes spent eight months in French and American oak barrels that have smoothed out all of Pinotage’s more wayward tendencies, without anihilating the character of the wine. The nose is a huge melange of spice, cedar, camphor and deep, earthy black fruit, with just a hint of a slightly rubbery (but not at all unpleasant) Pinotage character. On the palate this is a big, powerful wine, wrapped in cedary oak, and brimming with plush, velvetty blackcurrant fruit. There is a persistent edge of that bittersweet, slightly smoky Pinotage quality, but the sweetness and smoothness powers through. Tannins are chocolaty and deep, and this has a balanced, pert acidity that freshens the full, rich finish. A fabulously fruity and oak-drenched wine that showcases Pinotage beautifully. £16.95

Lindhorst (South Africa) Shiraz 2002
This wine, a gold medal winner at the Decanter World Wine Awards, has really put Lindhorst on the map. 100% Shiraz, only 4,390 bottles were produced. Grapes are sourced from two vineyards, and the wine spends 15 months in French oak barriques. It has a really fabulous nose, that opens up beautifully after a few hours in a decanter, with a dense, dark, stewed prune and rum-soaked raisin richness, a super-sweet core of fruit and a nicely tempered cedary oak quality. There are little hints of grilled bacon fat and mocha coffee in a complex profile. On the palate it is a very harmonious wine: in some ways less obvious than the blockbuster, plush style of the Statement, yet with no lack of ripe, velvety fruit concentration. There is a savoury, grilled meat and liquorice edge to this, and a fine, charry depth to the oak, that plays against very sweet, caramel tones and a supple, but unwavering backbone of tannin and acidity. A superb Shiraz with terrific length, and excellent/outstanding. £18.95 The Old Forge Wine Cellar.