Chris Alheit of Alheit Vineyards has come out with the devastating news that the 2017 vintage of Radio Lazarus will be the last bottling of the wine. It is sourced from a small plot of old Chenin Blanc that has simply gone past the point of recovery. Chris says, in his latest newsletter, that the 2018 vintage has been ‘very challenging’ and ‘sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes joyous, always furiously charging forward with no regard for comfort or convenience.’
A combination of factors, including the extreme site itself, the on-going drought and the local wildlife desperate for food, have all but killed the vines. Chris and his wife Suzaan have been trying to resurrect this block since 2011 with an unprecedented amount of effort but, unfortunately, they have realised that the vineyard is too far gone. Although these are not the oldest vines on the farm, they were planted in ’71 and ’78 and were a special cuvee of the Alheit’s vineyards.
These vines were under strain for many years but the couple were happy knowing that they gave them a few more years of life and wine. It was the three years of drought though that brought this resuscitation to a premature end and, once again, reiterated the devastating impact this drought has had on the Western Cape wine producing region.
While the drought may have ravaged the Radio Lazarus vineyards, the other 3 offerings, Cartology, La Colline and Magnetic North Mountain Makstok, will continue to be to be offered and made with the level of quality Alheit Vineyards has become renowned for. As with most things though, as one door closes another usually opens and we are sure we will be seeing a few more single block offerings from Chris in the near future.