I have known Roland Peens, head of one of South Africa’s top wine merchant / importers for many years, starting when he was embroiled in his gruelling Master of Wine studies. But as they say, behind every successful man is a woman. In this case, the woman in question is his wife Jessica Saurwein, who after working as the Marketing Manager for wine farm Kleinood / Tamboerskloof for many years, decided to branch out and swop selling for making wine. The result is Saurwein Pinot Noir with the 2015 her maiden vintage.
This new Pinot Noir addition to the Cape Wine scene is made from fruit sourced from a Kaaimansgat (Crocodile’s Lair) vineyard near Villiersdorp. There was a portion of whole bunch fruit employed in the fermentation and the wine was aged for approximately 9 months in French oak barrels. I am not sure how much 2016 was made, but only 3 barrels of the maiden 2015 were produced. Nom stands for the nombulelo, or gratitude in South Africa’s native Xhosa language and also Nomkhubulwane, a forgotten African goddess of agriculture.
This is an impressive Pinot Noir that has been reviewed in the local market to fairly high acclaim. After tasting both the 2015 and the 2016, it is fair to say the 2016 is definitely the more distinguished and classically proportioned of the two vintages. Already carrying a cult following, I fell in love with the 2016 and drank a bottle over two days to give it a proper chance to display all its wares. Well done Jessica. I would be very happy to make a Pinot Noir of this quality and I suspect the wine will only improve with extra time in bottle. I look forward to tasting the 2017 soon!
Saurwein Nom Pinot Noir 2016, WO Western Cape, 13.5 Abv.
This Pinot Noir possesses the most clear translucent ruby red colour almost resembling a glass of cranberry juice. But what lies in the glass is far more seductive and complex than mere fruit juice! The aromatics are perfumed and beautifully lifted, slowly revealing notes of sun dried cranberries, red cherries, pithy red plum skins, bloed lemoen and a hint of dusty crushed gravel with a pinch of wood spice seasoning. The mouthfeel too shows great precision, seamless purity and finesse but not at the expense of intensity and core tension. The melange of pure crystalline red fruits follows to the palate, all delivered with great restraint and subtlety. The 2016 shows the character of the dry vintage with more core tannin structure, dry extract and mineral nuances than the lush, opulent, more fruit forward 2015 maiden release. But this is no bad thing. The wine is delicious but serious, bordering on intellectual even, and allows the drinker time to ponder its breadth and depth. The finish is super elegant, dare I say feminine?, leaving your mouth savouring the most succulent earthy red cherry, ruby grapefruit and pomegranate fruit notes on the finish. Give this wine a few more years in the cellar to unwind a little more and then drink comfortably over 10 to 12+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)