Tasting the BLANKbottle wines with Pieter Walser has been one of our favourite wine experiences of the year. Each bottling is a unique and delicious snapshot of the vintage and vineyards and expresses Blankbottle’s one-of-a-kind vinous vision. These are the type of wines that make us fall in love with wine.
Pieter’s unique story was filmed by Theo Stewart and, at the Marseilles Film Festival, was deemed so special by the judging panel that they created an award for this documentary – the Coup de Coeur Trophy. The phrase is used by the French to say ‘blow to the heart’, ‘love at first sight’ or ‘falling for something’. We highly recommend you read the full story.
‘Being in Marseille at the film festival was like watching the French rugby team jog onto the field to play the Springboks in a jam-packed Stade de France. There’s a full French squad on the field, exclusively French supporters on the stands, a French referee and French line judges – and then only 2 Springboks appear…’ – Pieter Walser, BLANKbottle winemaker
Of the 30+ different BLANKbottle wines, we’ve chosen a few of our favourites and curated a white and a red mixed 3-pack.
The Empire Strikes Back 2018 is an all-Stellenbosch white blend of Verdelho, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Refined and never-ending, it’s a wonderful response to the successful Rhône-style whites of the Swartland.
At almost a decade old, the Manon des Sources 2010 has a haunting nose followed by a savoury, waxy and lasting palate. This fascinating Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blend shows just how rewarding a mature white can be; still incredibly fresh.
The final white in our selection is called Air Carrots of Pagnol 2018 in reference to Pagnol, the author of the novel ‘Manon des Sources’. Using Grenache Blanc from Wellington and Swartland with a dash Grenache Gris, Pieter’s instinctive winemaking introduced a component of skin contact – essential to the layered nature of this fuller, fleshier white with poised stone fruit to end. Once again, delicious!
The Little William 2018, a Shiraz from the Ceres Plateau, is yet another wine that points to the incredible potential of this region. This is one of the most delicious wines we’ve tasted this year. It’s fresh and crunchy with beautiful Côte-Rôtie flavours and nuances; the very definition of moreish.
With almost exactly the same tone and drinkability, we have the Oppie-Kopie 2017 from the Voor Paardeberg. Syrah-led with a dash of Cinsaut, pepper, meat spice, blood orange and iron notes abound on the nose. It’s an immediate Wine Cellar favourite.
To complete the loop, we’ve selected the Empire 2017, a Petit Verdot-led blend with both Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc from Stellenbosch. It’s the big brother of Empire Strikes Back and is juicy and full-bodied with bold fruit, power and rich, ripe tannins – typical of Stellenbosch, aka the ‘Empire’!
BLANKbottle, Empire Strikes Back 2018
The Empire in this instance is Stellenbosch, according to Pieter Walser, which is striking back against the more fashionable Swartland. Made as a six-way blend of Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay, this has lime, grapefruit and passion fruit flavours and a drizzle of honey. Drink 2019-23. – Tim Atkin MW, 91/100
BLANKbottle, Manon des Sources 2010
A resurrected wine that was bought on the market by Pieter Walser, this is weird stuff, man: a mature cuvée of Riesling, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that has 15.6% alcohol. Bready and complex, with marzipan and almond paste notes and enough acidity to keep it fresh and alive. Drink 2019-20. – Tim Atkin MW, 90/100
BLANKbottle, Air Carrots of Pagnol 2018
Named after the Pagnol, the author of the novel ‘Manon des Sources’. Using Grenache Blanc from Wellington and Swartland with a dash Grenache Gris, Pieter’s instinctive winemaking introduced a component of skin contact – essential to the layered nature of this fuller, fleshier white with poised stone fruit to end. Once again, delicious! – James Pietersen (October 2019)
BLANKbottle, Little William 2018
Little William is right up there with my favourite Cape Syrahs. Sourced from a vineyard at 800 metres on the Ceres Plateau, this is fermented with 100% whole bunches and is wonderfully sappy, savoury and white pepper-scented with a whisper of oak and delightful freshness. Drink 2021-30. – Tim Atkin MW, 95/100
BLANKbottle, Oppie Koppie 2017
Previously labelled at 69.99999, this is a bold, robust, cracked pepper and garrigue-scented cuvée of Syrah from the Voor Paardeberg and Swartland with 5% Breedekloof Cinsault. Serious, savoury and concentrated, it has meaty, bloody intensity and very little oak. Drink 2021-30. – Tim Atkin MW, 92/100
BLANKbottle, Empire 2017
A Petit Verdot-led blend with both Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc from Stellenbosch. It’s the big brother of Empire Strikes Back and is juicy and full-bodied with bold fruit, power and rich, ripe tannins – typical of Stellenbosch, aka the ‘Empire’! – James Pietersen (October 2019)