Napier of South Africa

napier winesNative South African Leon Bester is winemaker and MD of this vineyard estate in Wellington, a hot inland area of the Cape where he established Napier in 1989. Interestingly, the business was recently acquired by Germany’s Reh Kendermann Group, well known for some big brand wines including Black Tower. The fit may not seem the obvious one, but interest from an established European wine business is perhaps not quite as unusual as it at first seems, because Napier’s focus has always been on creating wines with an ‘Old World’ sensibility, with 70% of plantings traditional French varieties especially Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties, and Chardonnay, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Colombard accounting for the remaining 30%.

The wines are exclusively available from online retailer, and I recently had the chance to sample two wines from the portfolio. The first comes from their entry level Lion Creek range, and the other from their single vineyard range. There are two wines that sit above this, the Red Medallion Bordeaux blend and Sir George, another Bordeaux that I believe is not in the UK at time of writing this article.

The Wines

(2018) A deeply coloured wine with an attractive blackcurrant pastille ripeness and peppery lift on the nose, certainly fruit-driven. On the palate there's a light meat-stock character to the supple black fruit, quite soft tannins and a juiciness to the acidity, thought the 14.5% alcohol does show through a little in the finish.
(2018) Very deep, crimson/black stuff, this comes from a single vineyard on the slopes of the Hawekwa Mountains in Wellington. It is meaty, dense and quite closed on first pouring, but opens up to blackcurrant and spices, a touch of graphite and cedar, but stays meaty and dark. In the mouth the ripe sweetness of the fruit powers through, a fleshy richness, with the tannins and spiciness from the barrels filling in beneath, the 14.5% alcohol this time being soaked up rather better by the fruit and structure, to finish on spice and sweet fruit.

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