In 2006, Johann Rupert initiated the search for all vineyards in South Africa older than 35 years. Traditionally the South African wine industry depended on tonnage, meaning that the meagre yields of older vines often resulted in them being removed and replanted. What was left in the ground represented some pretty spectacular pockets of old vines tended by people who either kept them out of sentiment or foresight. Old vine fruit often guarantees extra intensity, texture while conveying a real sense of place.
Preserving these old vineyards is now regarded as an act of social responsibility toward South African wine and the people who invested in them despite the odds. In 2016, owner Johann Rupert agreed to sponsor the Old Vine Project and André Morgenthal and Jaco Engelbrecht were appointed after both having been informally involved with the project for some years.
Situated in the isolated Elandskloof Valley just North of Villiersdorp, Altima was purchased from the Overnstone Family in 2008. It is 5km wide and surrounded by a steep mountain range rising 1km from the valley floor. With a total average rainfall of 906mm per year, irrigation is generally unnecessary before the end of December. Coupled with the huge difference in temperatures between night and day, this continental climate is perfect for grapevine development. Good decomposed shale soils from the Malmesbury group are the predominant soils on the farm. With high water-retention, organic matter and usually no chemical limitation, it facilitates vigorous growth. Vineyards are planted from 600m above sea-level, with the highest vineyards planted at 878m. The steep topography causes the valley to receive less direct sunlight, making for a distinctly cooler climate.
Cape of Good Hope Sneeuwkrans Pinot Noir 2018, WO Elandskloof, 13% Abv.
Sourced from vineyards in the Elandskloof, an area renowned for producing premium Pinot Noir grapes, Anthonij Rupert Wines has created an exciting expression in 2018 from North-East and South-Western facing slopes consisting of decomposed shale at an altitude of 690 to 714 metres. The aromatics are suitably earthy and wild with hints of bramble berries, sweet herbs, sun raisined cranberries, red currant and strawberry compote. The palate is fleshy and plush with finely crafted tannins, a silky soft mouthfeel with plenty of finesse and textured elegance and a long, sweet fruited finish boasting notes of red cherry, red plum, blood oranges, sweet wood spice and earthy hints of cured meats on the finish. Complex and approachable now, you can enjoy this wine over the next 3 to 5 years.
(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)