(2019) Much fuller and more ripe than the Restless River Cab Sauvignon (tasted alongside and which is a bit of a Cab Franc lookalike), 20% whole clusters were used and the wine aged only in larger oak. Creamy and ripe fruit, a certain density to the aroma, lots of spices and elegant tobacco, touched by Cab Franc leafiness. The palate has such juiciness married to dryness, really dry, but not at all over-extracted, with great, tangy fruit-skin bite and energy.
(2015) 40 year old vineyards grown on shale soils, aged in old French oak barrels. Delightful deep colour but light in texture and extract. A plum and liquorice edge of brightness to this, deliciously plummy and high in acid with fantastic energy. Great depth of flavour.
(2013) With a modest 12.6% abv this has a delicate nuttiness and honey, with nothing showy or overt. There's a suggestion that this is very ripe, very fine, and onto the palate it has a lovely balance between fresh, clear, running water clarity and the subtle concentration of the fruit. A touch of lime peel and melon peel, juicy fruit but a resolved clarity and harmony too. A delicate but deliciously drinkable style.
(2013) 15% abv, there's a slightly odd, vegetal and animal notes at first, a bit reductive perhaps, or is it just meatiness and oak character? Blows off, leaving a deep and quite meaty character. On the palate intense sweetness to the fruit, it is big, sweet and creamily ripe stuff, the tannins very ripe and smooth, the finish juicy, a real squirt of cherry to freshen.
(2013) A different beast with 14.46% abv, a blend of 32% Mourvèdre, 27% Pinotage, 27% Shiraz, 13% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Gorgeous, creamy and lifted red and black fruit, with plenty of cassis and really ripe blackcurrant, lots of cream and cocoa, lots of plushness but has a suggestion of a firm backbone. The palate is juicy and has a big, lean, slightly gamy focus with chocolate covered cherry. The palate is smooth with really nice quality of oak that adds a smoky swirl and touch of plum skin, tart freshness. Lovely length.
(2013) 12.5% abv, this is quite pungent and green, with loads of herbs and rosemary and dill, a real streak of herbaceousness over lemony fresh fruit. On the palate it has a really nice concentration, the fruit retains that herbaceous bite, but the apple and fresh, lemon really streaks through into a decisive, dry but long finish.
(2013) All barrel fermented in old oak, "all sorts of ferment on skins," according to Niels. Lovely fresh colour and lots of flinty, mineral smokiness, some soft green herb notes too. The firm, crisp apple is there, but this is more about something mineral. Is there a touch of oak on this? It certainly has a little of that nutty quality, a touch of something toasty, but that could be minerality again expressed as a flinty, racy character. The sweet mid-palate ripeness and richness builds in a complex, long wine with concentration. An intriguing expression of Chenin.
(2013) Meaty, gamy, northern Rhône style with lots of dark mulberry fruit and hints of chocolate, there are hints of leafiness and complexity too, a touch of pepper in a very attractive, complex nose. Beautiful palate. It has the sweetness of fruit of the Paardenkloof, but adds substantial layers beneath of full, creamy textured oak and plum, the tannins very svelte and creamy on the mid palate, and the spice and pepper filling in on the finish with a powerful freshness and length.
(2013) 52% Semillon fermented in 500-litre casks, Romanian and French. The Sauvignon Blanc is unwooded. There's a creamy, gently almondy and toasty note here of barrel ferment, with the buttery and lemony aromas to the fore, much more white Bordeaux than Loire or NZ. The palate is very fresh, very vibrant, the lemony freshness coming through powerfully and the white fruit and mineral acidity. Does it have a slight hole in the middle/disjointedness? Very impressive, but perhaps that transition from creamy to crisp needs to be smoothed a little.
(2013) A big wine at 15.1% abv, this is 28% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot. Big, coffee dominated nose, the Cab Franc, just about showing through with a freshening touch, plenty of spice and cedar is quite classic, certainly power here, but also a sense of clarity. On the palate it has a lot of dry extract, a lot of alcohol too, just giving a little heat, but again the quality of fruit, wood and the ripe but grippy tannins and acidity all nicely balanced. If this could have been a degree lower in alcohol with somehow the same phenolic ripeness, it would have been even better.