Chris and Suzanne Alheit have quickly become SA’s top white wine producers. Focusing on old-vine Chenin and Sémillon, Alheit Vineyards produces some of the most thrilling wines in SA. Their chiselled 2019s demonstrate a particularly fine vintage for local white wines.
It all started with the launch of the Cartology 2011. ‘By December 2012 it was one of the most talked-about (and globally highly-rated) Cape wines of the modern era. We’re still a bit baffled by how quickly it all happened,’ says Chris. Almost a decade on, the Alheits are still one of the most talked-about producers.
As the La Colline Sémillon was declassified in 2019, the 2019 Cartology includes much of what would have gone into the single-vineyard bottling. Eedes reports how it’s ‘properly complex’ and, as a result, the 2019 is his highest-scoring Cartology. An international wine of this quality is at least double the price.
In addition to their signature white, there are a handful of the 2019 single-vineyards available in very limited quantities. An exciting addition is the Lost & Found straw wine, sourced from a rare 1900 Hanepoot vineyard which is thought to be the oldest producing vineyard in SA. It is an astonishing wine that immediately jumps to the top tier of sweet wines.
The Magnetic North and Huilkrans are fittingly in huge demand. These two Skurfberg 2019s have striking acidities combined with unbelievable power and purity – grand crus in stature. The Fire by Night is now called Broom Ridge after the Swartland property was acquired by the Alheits. The 2019 shows ‘Alheit precision’ combined with Paardeberg terroir, creating a finely chiselled wine. The Nautical Dawn is another gripping Chenin Blanc with the power and fruit that is typical of Stellenbosch. Finally, the ever-exciting field blend from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Hemelrand Vine Garden, is taut and fragrant. It needs a few years to show its best.
Watch Chris’s video below while considering these must-have wines.
Alheit Vineyards, Cartology 2019
90% Chenin Blanc, 10% Semillon. The ‘flagbearer’ of the range and what a super-sexy wine it is in 2019! The nose shows citrus, apple, peach and hay to go with some flinty reduction and a little waxiness. The palate has great fruit density, punchy acidity playing off against a slightly oily texture while the finish is long and pithy. Properly complex (La Colline had to go somewhere…). – Christian Eedes, 95/100
Alheit Vineyards, Lost & Found 375ml 2019
A straw wine from a Breedekloof vineyard of Hanepoot planted in the late 1800s, thought to be the oldest producing vineyard in the country. A fabulously complex nose showing top notes of barley sugar, straw, mint, dried herbs and potpourri before preserved orange, dried apricot and caramel. The palate is inevitably viscous in texture but there’s also riveting acidity and the finish is dry. Profoundly good. Alc: 7.4%. – Christian Eedes, 98/100
Alheit Vineyards, Magnetic North 2019
From ungrafted Skurfberg Chenin Blanc. Compelling aromatics of pear, peach and grapefruit with both some smoky reduction and hay in the background. The palate, as ever, is just wonderfully pure, harmonious and long. It’s a little higher in alcohol and residual sugar than usual but this serves only to give the wine extra presence. Has a real completeness about it. – Christian Eedes, 97/100
Alheit Vineyards, Huilkrans 2019
From Skurfberg Chenin Blanc. A striking nose of citrus, peach, dried herbs and baking spice plus a rather funky waxiness. With great depth of fruit and vibrant acidity, this is altogether more powerful and showy than other recent vintages. It’s still extraordinarily complex and long, however. – Christian Eedes, 95/100
Alheit Vineyards, Broom Ridge 2019
From Chenin Blanc vineyards planted between 1972 and 1985. The nose shows a quite particular thatchy note as well as some potpourri before pear, white peach and lime. The palate is lean and energetic with a super-dry finish. Rather severe at this point but will no doubt unfurl into something rather beautiful in time. – Christian Eedes, 95/100
Alheit Vineyards, Nautical Dawn 2019
From a 1978 vineyard on the Sinai Hill in the Firgrove area of Stellenbosch. A pretty nose of flowers, talcum powder, white peach and citrus. The palate has great fruit definition and crisp acidity before a slightly bitter finish. This has a lovely clarity about it – pure, balanced and wonderfully sleek. – Christian Eedes, 95/100
Alheit Vineyards, Hemelrand Vine Garden 2019
42% Roussanne, 22% Chardonnay, 16% Chenin Blanc, 16% Verdelho and 4% Muscat. An exotic and enticing nose with pronounced notes of honeysuckle and dried herbs before pear, peach and spice plus a hint of reduction. The palate shows pure, clean fruit to go with lemon-like acidity and a dry finish. Seamlessly assembled. – Christian Eedes, 93/100