Apart from the momentous releases from Alheit, Mullineux and Porseleinberg, we haven’t been this impressed with a new release in a decade. Previously the winemaker at Boekenhoutskloof, Jean Smit is now in partnership with…

Apart from the momentous releases from Alheit, Mullineux and Porseleinberg, we haven’t been this impressed with a new release in a decade. Previously the winemaker at Boekenhoutskloof, Jean Smit is now in partnership with David Curl, ex Château Gaby in Bordeaux, and they have created an exciting, pitch-perfect set of wines under the label Damascene. The Syrah, Sémillon and Cabernet Franc are immediately placed amongst the finest in SA.

The maiden release headlines with the must-have Damascene Syrah 2018 which is produced using mainly fruit from the famed Karibib vineyard (the source of Sons of Sugarland Syrah and Lukas van Loggerenberg Graft) as well as two granitic Bottelary vineyards. Considering his stints in the Rhône with Stéphane Ogier and almost a decade spent at Boekenhoutskloof, it’s no surprise that Jean’s Syrah is one of the very finest expressions we have tasted. It is perfumed with meat spices, florals and poised fruit that leads to an impressive and elegant, yet sumptuous palate with a long, classy finish.

Jean’s passion for Sémillon and his dedication to terroir have led him to secure this amazing but small vineyard planted in 1942. The parcel is a little gem that produces quintessential old-vine Franschhoek Sémillon. The Damascene Sémillon 2018 is a super-small release of only 700 bottles. This is a serious, complex white of great pedigree and perfect for cellaring over the next decade.

The Damascene Cabernet Franc 2018, from Bottelary vineyards, is a refined and detailed expression that walks a fine line between Loire-like sensibility and Stellenbosch fruit weight. With great purity of fruit and exquisitely silky tannins that leave a lasting impression, it’s something very special.

Tasting notes:

Damascene, Syrah 2018
A combination of Polkadraai and Bottelary grapes, winemaking involving multiple fermentations. A compelling nose of red and black berries, black pepper, fynbos, incense and wilted rose. The palate is rich and dense in the best way – intense but not weighty, this has great freshness and lovely ripe tannins in addition to impressive fruit. Super detail and energy, this immediately places among the best in the country. – Christian Eedes, 97/100

Damascene, Sémillon 2018
W.O. Franschhoek. Predominantly from a 1942 vineyard but also a dash of the previous vintage from a 1956 vineyard. A complex nose showing pear, white peach, apple and spice plus subtle notes of earth and bread-like yeastiness. The palate had both breadth and depth – lovely layers of flavour and great composure. Total production: 707 bottles. – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za, 93/100

Damascene, Cabernet Franc 2018
Grapes from a Bottelary vineyard, maturation took place in 1 000-litre foudre. A perfumed nose with some leafiness, rose, fennel and fynbos to go with red and black berries. The palate displays lovely fruit purity, vibrant acidity and fine tannins, the finish pleasingly dry. Total production: 1 175 bottles. – Christian Eedes, 92/100

 

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