‘Everything he makes is at least intriguing while his very best wines are truly extraordinary in their presence and distinctiveness.‘ – Christian Eedes
There is no doubt that Donovan Rall makes some of SA’s most unique wines. His latest set is a triumph of individuality and terroir expression. The 2019 Rall White follows on from the excellent 2018 and is special this year. A stand-out wine and a benchmark for South African whites, this multiregional blend of 68% Chenin Blanc with Verdelho and Viognier is particularly focused in 2019.
The signature 2018 Rall Red is a powerful, southern Rhône-style blend. It is brooding, bold and broad-textured with a great density of fruit. It is certainly one for the cellar with its layered tannins and rich fruit balanced by a dry, serious finish. It has this impressive power, yet comes in at a remarkable 13.5% alcohol. If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is for you!
The 2019 Cinsault Blanc is still light but has more texture than the 2018. This rarity is produced in very small volume. The 2019 Cinsault is easily up there with SA’s best. It is one of my favourites due to its balance of perfumed, floral notes with savoury earthiness; a delicious wine. The 2019 Grenache Blanc is a little fleshier in 2019 with great fruit purity that is balanced by a fine, mineral undertow. From Piekenierskloof bush vines, it is a great expression of this rugged terroir.
The two Rall Ava wines are simply spectacular. The 2019 Ava Chenin Blanc sold out on allocation last week but you can still email James directly for a few bottles of the emphatic 2019 Ava Syrah. Best only broached in 3-5 years, it is coiled and tightly wound, while fine and Rhône-like with long, defined tannins. This is as good as South African Syrah gets!
Rall, White 2019
68% Chenin Blanc, 28% Verdelho, 4% Viognier. An infinitely complex nose with notes of dried flowers, pear, peach, citrus, apple, baking spice and white pepper. The palate is clean and focused, the acidity providing snap, the finish long and pithy. Precisely made but also somehow effortless, this combines great clarity of fruit with plenty of detail. Alc.: 13.5% – Christian Eedes, 98/100
Rall, Red 2018
70% Syrah, 12% Grenache, 10% Carignan and 8% Cinsault. A brooding nose of black fruit, withererd rose, some meatiness, spice and even a little tar. The palate meanwhile is full-bodied with smooth tannins, the finish super-dry. This is 100% whole-bunch fermented but the fruit is so dense that there’s no sense of stalkiness on the palate. A dramatic, powerful wine. Alc: 13.5% – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Rall, Cinsault Blanc 2019
From Wellington grapes and vinified in amphorae. Some floral perfume plus subtle citrus and peach on the nose while the palate is light-bodied with gentle acidity. Always a pretty wine, this vintage appears particularly understated. Alc: 12.5%. – Christian Eedes, 88/100
Rall, Cinsault 2019
60% Swartland and 40% Darling grapes, largely whole-bunch fermented. The nose shows top notes of rose and dried herbs before pomegranate, red currant and raspberry. The palate seems slightly leaner than usual with pure fruit, lemon-like acidity and powdery tannins, the finish gently savoury. A charming wine with plenty of refreshment factor. Alc: 12.5%. – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Rall, Grenache Blanc 2019
From Piekenierskloof grapes. The nose shows a little reduction before lemon, naartjie, stone fruit, cut apple and a little nuttiness. Rich and broad with seemingly quite moderate acidity, round without being too leesy, this is a more generous vintage than usual. Alc: 13.5% – Christian Eedes, 92/100
Rall, Ava Syrah 2019 – On allocation
Now incorporating grapes from two Swartland vineyards on schist. Compelling aromatics of red and black fruit, roses and lilies, fresh coriander plus white and black pepper. The palate is marked by lovely fruit expression, a cracking line of acidity and crunchy tannins. This currently comes across as tightly wound and even a little ungiving but there is a sense of all the necessary elements of greatness being present and this should mature magnificently. – Christian Eedes, 98/100