‘Quite simply: as profound as any Grand Cru Burgundy you could buy,’ says Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate on the 2011 Kokerboom; ‘Reminiscent of an old Rayas,’ he adds on the Soldaat. The 2011s were awarded SA’s highest ever ratings of between 92 and 97 points.
The brilliant 2012 vintage has shone on all corners of the Cape it seems; the 2012s show magnificent intensity at slightly lower alcohols than the 2011s. Each wine captures a part of South African heritage as Eben Sadie has scoured the Cape to find the finest old vine parcels. Having revived these derelict vineyards, he is producing world-class wines that excite the palate with truly unique, South African character. Unhindered by excess extraction, oak or any manipulation, his Old Vine Series is a pure expression of each vineyard and its amazing terroir.
The 2011 Columella and Palladius are as profound as ever, if slightly finer and less powerful than the rich 2010s. Unlike the single vineyards, these are aimed at encapsulating the best red and white wine the Swartland can produce.
These are South Africa’s most sought-after wines. Be warned, they will sell out fast.
Pia’s tasting notes
Made from Tinta Barocca grown west of Malmesbury. The vines are approximately 40-years old. Dark, brooding purple in colour, it comes across as shy and restrained at first, but then slowly opens up in the glass with delightful scents reminiscent of Christmas – sweet spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuances of smoked ham and cayenne pepper. The nose follows onto the palate with a spicy full body, lively acidity and grippy, yet refined tannins. Rich, inviting and intriguingly different. Possibly the only one of the series to be enjoyed with red meat dishes. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 92 points)
100% Cinsault from the western side of the Kasteelberg in the Swartland, made from 48-year-old vines. Showing a full spectrum of red cherry fruit, from zingy to richly ripe with added complexity of spice and game. The Cinsault is 100% whole-bunch fermented, undergoing carbonic maceration. A month of skin contact ensures a focused tannin structure and provides potential for ageing – up to 15 years. This wine is pure elegance, yet still manages to maintain excellent depth. A fantastic example of how old vines and simple winemaking can produce a light-bodied wine without compromising on complexity. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 92 points)
Grenache Noir from Piekenierskloof planted at 708m in the 1970s. A seductive nose with vibrant cherries, rich meatiness and the subtle savoury-spice of root vegetables. On the palate, freshness and purity of fruit combine harmoniously, with the finely textured tannins providing dynamic tension. This is an honest wine with no frills. Its true excellence will develop over the next decade or so. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 95 points)
A brilliant, deep ruby colour. Intense wild-berry fruits; youngberry, cassis and damson emanate from the glass, accompanied by enthralling earthy, savoury Italian herbs and cracked pepper. Velvety fine tannins add a sophisticated edge. This wine gets even better year after year, providing a whole new sensory experience every time you return to the glass. Put this beauty down to age…. (2009 vintage – Wine Advocate 93 points)
100% Chenin Blanc planted in the 1950s in the Skurfberg mountains in the Olifants River region. Treelike vines are aptly named ‘Bôme’. The fresh sweetness of Granny Smith apples with an undertone of hot slate just after the rain. Slightly shy and understated, it comes into its own on the palate, displaying vivid, fresh fruit, crunchy acidity and a subtle almond finish. Enticing and mysterious, I look forward to seeing how it will transform over the years. Ageing potential: 5-15 years. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 93 points)
Seventy-year-old Chenin blended with Palomino from Dwarskerbos and Elands Bay. Pale lemon yellow in colour. The bouquet enchants you with aromas of seaside air: mineral, chalky, salty, crisp. On the palate, the razor-sharp acidity is supported by a full, creamy weight. Utterly captivating and richly textured with energising tension, this wine will develop intriguing complexity with age. Very exciting. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 95 points)
A field-blend on the north-west side of the Piquetberg mountains. Semillon is the star of the show, blended with Semillion Gris, Palomino, Muscat and Chenin. Subtle nuances of tropical fruit on the nose; peach, pineapple and passion fruit dance in sync with an arresting minerality. The wine swirls on the palate elegantly with delectable creaminess. Textured in body, a ‘thinking’ wine. Something of a performance, quite appropriate to the amphitheatre-like vineyard it comes from. Ageing potential: 5-10 years. Definitely one to keep your eye on. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 94 points)
Semillion Blanc and Semillon Gris from Trekpoort Kloof in the Olifants River region. The 89-year-old vineyards are in pristine condition. Exuding that characteristic lanolin waxiness of Semillon, livened up by seductive yellow fruits of pear, apricot and yellow apples. On the palate this wine has a richness and viscosity with incredibly smooth tannins, setting it apart from the other white wines of the series. Pure elegance and finesse, this is classy, different and decadent. Ageing potential: 5-15 years. (2011 vintage – Wine Advocate 97 points)
Mev. Kirsten 2012
The vineyard is located in Jonkershoek on the foothills of the Botmaskop. 100% Chenin Blanc from 108-year-old vineyards. Intense yellow, she is introduced with a slightly musty air, like the pleasant familiarity of your grandfather’s closet. Subtle freshness of apple cider on the nose alludes to the electrifying acidity on the palate, perfectly balancing the full-bodied weight and concentration of fruit. The smooth, grainy texture from two days of skin contact rolls on the tongue, gradually dissipating into a pithy-twist to finish. Astonishingly fresh and engaging for vines that have been around longer than us…and it will keep on going! Ageing potential:15-20 years.
An impressive spectrum of Chenin, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, Semillon Blanc, Semillon Gris, Palomino and Verdelho. Slightly more subdued compared to the 2010. Taking time and gentle coaxing, purity of fruit is evident on the nose – white peach and plush apricots. Lemon meringue and salty macadamia butter follow, all exquisitely balanced by a chalky mineral zap. Exotic mandarin and ginger spice enter with medium body on the palate, transforming into a nutty, moreish savouriness. Undulating complexity, the Palladius promises a thrilling experience and will only improve with age. (2010 vintage – Wine Advocate 93 points)