Meeting Up With Three South African Icon Producers – Tasting the Wines of Rall, Raats and Naude…

So wonderful being in South Africa again where I am able to press the flesh, ask the sometimes awkward “off the record” questions and taste the unobtainable, the unreleased, and the almost non existent unicorns! It’s old news that South Africa is on trend, but it’s new news that the on-trend producers are becoming particularly hard to access now days.

So in true Fine Wine Safari style, I somehow managed to herd, corral, gather three of my absolute favourite producers into the same room for some incredible fine wines, unlimited “off the record” banter, and to share some of the greatest and most profound wines produced in South Africa.

The legend that is Bruwer Raats, fresh off a plane from Prowein, acted as host for white wine Viking Guru Donovan Rall and White Blend Old Vine King, Ian Naude. While the tantalising banter (chatter) was strictly off the record, a couple of the wines we tasted were very much on record!

I am so grateful for the friendships forged through fine wine. To Ian, Donovan and Bruwer… thank you! We will meet again very soon. 🍷

Naude Family Wines Chenin Blanc 2016, WO Western Cape

The 2016 Chenin Blanc at this embryonic phase in many ways reminds me more like the 2015 expression from Naude. The nose is very dusty, pithy and laden with liquid minerals. There are aromas of crushed granite, chalk dust, peach stone, green apples, with a sprinkling of dried green baking herbs and fynbos. The palate shows harmonious weight, flesh and sleek textural depth, but remains quite broody and tight in its youth. All very subtle and tightly packaged, there are nuances of white crunchy pears, dusty white citrus, wet river pebbles, tart white peaches, citrus oil and picante tangerine peel. Fine mid-palate tension, vibrant fresh acids and as expected from a warm, dry vintage, plenty of concentration and length, albeit a little closed up and tight right now. This looks like a worthy follow up to the impressive 2015. Drink now to 2030+

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Rall Cinsault Blanc 2017, WO Wellington, 10.5 Abv.

Sourced from a vineyard owned by the gentle giant (Karl Lambour), and supplied to another gentle giant (Donovan Rall), this wine is packed with green pear, cream soda and green apple pastille lushness. Fermented and aged in amphora of 580 litres and a 1 x 225ltr old barrique with 5 days skin contact. The wine is beautifully textural, creamy, cool and fresh, deliciously vibrant and bright. Unpretentious, pure and super crystalline, it has the elegance, freshness and the lithe body of Pinot Grigio but with the drinkability of a young Chenin Blanc. A fascinating wine, very well made indeed! Bravo Donovan!

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

MR de Compostella 2015 Blend, WO Stellenbosch,14.5 Abv.

This is an absolutely gorgeous, coming of age wine. A blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec, the 2015 is genuinely a compelling wine with a classic nose more reminiscent of a fine, opulent Cru Classe Pauillac than a Stellenbosch Bordeaux blend. There are beautiful perfumed notes of assorted purple flowers and fresh violets that melt away to reveal ripe, intense notes of crème de cassis, blueberry crumble, cherry kirsch liquor and damson plum. The wine has gravitas, intensity and a room-silencing presence that is neither heavy nor overpowering. Like all MR vintages, it has impressive laser-like precision, a fine grained focus and an amazing fruit purity and concentration that is a hedonistic pleasure to experience. What extract, what fine piercing acids, what power, but all delivered in a sublimely harmonious chorus of black cassis fruits, blueberry confit and graphite spice. It is impossible to tire of this wine, with its palate freshness reigniting your senses continuously. More structured and intense than its riper, plumper predecessor 2014, the 2015 delivers more intensity, with tannic restraint and brooding classical Pauillac’esque depth. Drink this young if you will, but this MR is the closest Bruwer and Mvemve have come to perfection since they started this project in 2004.

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

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