We give to you: Ryan Mostert. Self-professed wine geek. Jamet Junkie. Arguably one of the most passionate vignerons brought forth from Southern African soils.
Whilst staying true to his philosophy of innovation and experimentation in the cellar, and utter dedication in the vineyard, this year’s Smiley Chenin Blanc V4.0 NV, Smiley Red V3.0 NV as well as the Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2016 and Silwervis Cinsault 2016 have taken an elegant turn. The wines are more precise and focused, whilst retaining their fantastical and idiosyncratic nature.
Ryan Mostert and Samantha Suddons have just released some new versions and vintages which you would be wise to get your hands on. Today.
As ever, the Smileys are excellent value for money. Whilst the Smiley Chenin Blanc V4.0 NV remains a journey of Jura white, it has a beautiful fruit purity and salinity with ‘less obvious winemaking’ as Ryan explained. The new version 3.0 Smiley Red NV, blend of Cinsault, Mouvedre, Tinta Barocca and Syrah is the biggest red version we’ve tasted thus far – with a dark intensity and powerful tannin structure which we loved.
The Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2016 is a lush wine representative of the dry 2016 growing season, with nuances of dried herbs and a characteristic texture and body that shows its 12 months ageing on lees. Made in the original concrete egg bought at the Swartland Revolution in 2010. The Silwervis Cinsault 2016 has been made from small, dark berries, resulting in a very perfumed, nuanced and well-structured wine. It’s a juxtaposition of delicacy and power and one of my favourites on the day.
Smiley Chenin Blanc V4.0 NV, Swartland – R 165
From Chenin Blanc – from four separate vintage, this includes portions fermented under flor, with skin contact as well as maderised. A hint of reduction before peach and citrus plus less primary notes – dried seaweed, yeasty complexity, spice and even a touch of volatile acidity. Rich and broad with tangy acidity, the finish long and gently savoury. Fresher overall and hence less geeky than previous renditions. Alcohol: 12.5%. – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Smiley Red V3.0 NV, Swartland – R 165
From four different vintages: 40% 2016 Cinsault, 40% 2017 Mourvèdre, 15% 2015 Tinta Barocca and 5% 2018 Syrah. A wild and exotic nose of black fruit, earth, spice, olive and scrub. The palate is extraordinarily dense and flavour packed – sweet and juicy on entry before grippy tannins kick in making for a savoury finish. Alcohol: 13.1%. – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2016, Swartland – R 380
Made from a Paardeberg vineyard planted in 1964. Matured in concrete egg for 12 months followed by a further 12 months in tank. Naartjie, orange, stone fruit plus some yeasty complexity. The palate is rich, broad with moderate acidity and a savoury finish. Super-tasty but idiosyncratic as ever. Alcohol: 13.5%. – Christian Eedes, 93/100
Silwervis Cinsault 2016, Swartland – R 380
From a Paardeberg vineyard planted in 1989 of granite on shale. Wonderfully fragrant nose of rose petal, herbs, cherries and pomegranate. The palate shows pure fruit, an exhilarating line of acidity and powdery tannins, the finish long and salty – a poised and very elegant rendition of the variety. Mostert would probably baulk at having any of his wines described as “precise” but that is very much what this wine is. Alcohol: 12.7%. – Christian Eedes, 95/100