Wildehurst Wines is a small boutique wine cellar in the small Swartland town of Koringberg. Together, owner Joanne Hurst and winemaker Sheree Nothnagel, produce wines that attempt to capture the essence of their unique terroir in the Swartland wine region in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Joanne planted her “garden vineyard” in 2006 consisting of 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier producing her first wines in 2009. At the end of 2013 the business grew to the point where it was necessary to appoint a full time winemaker and with a degree in Oenology and Viticulture, Sheree Nothnagel, joined the winemaking team. All grapes are hand harvested and wines are produced as naturally as possible with minimal intervention. Wildehurst Wines currently produce 16,000 bottles annually.
This 2018 Chenin Blanc was produced from 30 year old vines in the Swartland. After being whole bunch pressed, the must was barrel fermented with minimal intervention using natural yeasts and no acidification. The finished wine was racked and transferred back to old French oak barrels where it was aged for a further six months before bottling. Only 865 bottles were produced. Alcohol: 12.5% Residual Sugar: 1.8g/L, TA: 5.1g/L, pH: 3.43
Wildehurst Wines Chenin Blanc 2018, WO Swartland, 12.5 Abv.
A bright medium straw yellow colour, this wine has a very expressive nose of classic Swartland Chenin Blanc. There are complex notes of spicy orange peel, pineapple pastille, crushed granite, wet thatch and white peach stone fruits on the nose. The palate shows an initial piquant bite with a light to medium bodied mouthfeel, pithy peach skins and a subtle phenolics grip. There is plenty of elegance and subtlety together with nuanced flavours, a sleek accessibility and distinct lemon and peach iced tea characters on the finish. Perhaps not quite the palate weight or concentration of some of the more illustrious Swartland examples, but this delicious, well balanced little boutique white certainly captures many of the most attractive characteristics of Swartland Chenin Blanc.
I have been following the outstanding work of John Seccombe from the very beginning of his Thorne & Daughters label which was started in 2012 by John and wife Tasha with the aim to produce authentic wines in the beautiful Western Cape. John works with grapes from all over the Cape peninsula and seems to have honed a particularly refined aesthetic when it comes to his winemaking. His Thorne and Daughters family concern is truly pushing the boundaries with old vines and simple, natural winemaking techniques.
Sometimes other producer’s wines have been more highly lauded or more vocally praised but this certainly has nothing to do with the quality of John’s wines. Indeed, John must be one of the most modest, humble and intelligent winemakers plying his trade in the Cape… silently and brilliantly. John’s 2018 Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse Cape white blend incorporates several old vine heritage vineyards that looks more to Burgundy rather than the Rhône for its stylistic compass.
With the release of John’s 2019 Rocking Horse hitting the airwaves at the moment, I thought it would be the perfect time to retaste the impressive 2018 blend, a wine that got a lot of wine trade tongues wagging at the New Wave 2019 tasting in London last year. As the current release and the wine most widely available, the 2018 is certainly worth further examination.
Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2018 wWhite Blend, WO Western Cape, 13.2 Abv.
The 2018 is an exotic Mediterranean blend of 25% Roussanne, 22% Semillon, 19% Chardonnay, 18% Clairette Blanche and 16% Chenin Blanc. A rich straw yellow colour, the aromatics are complex and expressive brimming with notes of leesy lemon biscuits, white citrus, dried baking herbs, fynbos and thatch and dried tangerine peel. On the palate, the textural intricacy is notable as you would expect from a wine with 25% Roussanne in the blend, which lends extra dimensions of fleshy white stone fruit and marzipan depth. Naturally fermented in old oak, the 2018 shows the classical crystalline purity of the vintage framed by a tart lemon lime acidity and a stony, liquid mineral granitic complexity. Beautifully sensual and pristinely balance, every mouthful stimulates the senses and gives the drinker additional flavours to contemplate… crisp white peaches, crunchy green pears, granny smith apples, bay leaf herbal notes and yet more green mango and saline twang on the long exhilarating finish. Impressively intense and taut for the vintage, this must be one of the most drop dead gorgeous white blends produced in the Cape at the moment. Drink now or age for 10+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW
Thorne & Daughters wines are distributed in the UK by Liberty Wines.
The new release Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 from Le Riche is an incredible creation made with expertise honed over two generations. With Christo Le Riche really starting to hit his stride following decades of hard work by his father Etienne, he has expertly leveraged the excellence of the 2017 vintage to create a superbly supple and elegant wine with weightless fruit concentration and layers of sleek textural balance.
The grapes for the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from Stellenbosch vineyards in the Simonsberg, Jonkershoek and Helderberg wards. Each vineyard block was separately vinified for one year, blended and subsequently aged for another 12 months. The result is a complex multi-dimensional wine with excellent maturation potential.
While not everyone can ultimately afford to stock their cellar with the lauded Le Riche Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon releases that continue garner massive reviews, high scores and ongoing global acclaim, they certainly can access the exceptional Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon releases at very affordable prices. Who would not want to buy this incredible wine in a truly iconic vintage like 2015 or 2017.
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5 Abv.
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Le Riche may only be their “entry level” edition, but it displays many of the impressive complex characteristics that have made their Reserve wines so iconic and collectable internationally. The 2017 colour is an alluring deep garnet-purple on this youthful wine. The bouquet lifts out the glass little by little with a delicate violet perfume but also with significantly more overt and expressive notes of black cherries, red currants, dark chocolate and spicy underbrush tones that melt into nuances of freshly tilled earth. The minerality is very subtle and chimes with faint notes of freshly cut cedar and graphite. On the palate, the soft, sleek, velvety tannins glide over the palate with well trained precision. Such a fine, elegant, polished texture that shows fabulous approachability, a supple fleshy savoury black currant fruit intensity and an earthy black plum fruit length. Wonderful poise and balance in the mouth, this wine demonstrates all the masterful winemaking skills of Christo Le Riche! Drink it from release or cellar for 10+ years. A “must have” for the cellar!
Northern Rhone wine lovers are by now fairly well versed in the split between the Jamet brothers in 2013. The chatter I feel seems to persist in wine enthusiast circles precisely because the whole affair was kept so secretive and also because coming by any accurate information on the way forward for both talented Jamet brothers seemed very difficult indeed.
But the time has certainly come for wine enthusiasts to celebrate the fact that there are not one but two incredible Jamet scions making mind blowing wines in and around Cote Rotie now. Through tragedy and adversity, we are now treated to two different but equally exhilarating styles of Syrah from these gifted brothers.
Jean-Luc subsequently built his own winery just on the other side of the formerly shared driveway, now divided by a sturdy stone wall. My deep interest in the wines of Jean-Luc were perhaps encouraged by the early, slightly dismissive attitude towards his wines, after all, he wasn’t the winemaker of the previous Domaine Jamet and its iconic wines, he spent all his time in the vineyards as the viticulturalist. But as we all know, truly great wine is not made in the cellar, it is made in the vineyards!
Jean-Luc’s delicious wine style is quite different to the plusher, fleshier Domaine Jamet expressions as he prefers to focus on earlier picked grapes, lighter alcohols, brazenly fresh vibrant fruits, bright crunchy acids and a polished textural linearity to his wine’s textures. His red range encompasses a delicious Collines Rhodaniennes IGP Syrah, a Cotes du Rhone made from young vine Cote Rotie sites and finally his impressive Les Terrasses Cote Rotie made from a blend of top lieux dits sites including La Landonne, Lancement, Chavaroche and Fongeant. With Jean-Luc’s son Benoit Jamet sure to join the venture in earnest, we can expect a lot more fabulous wines produced from the Jean-Luc Jamet cellars.
Another supremely impressive and precise Syrah creation from the masterful winemaking of Jean-Luc Jamet. Lifted and exotically fragrant, the nose bristles with incense, dried garrigue, black olive, lavender blossom and sweet, sappy black peppercorn spices. True to form, Jean-Luc’s Collines-Rhodaniennes red is laser sharp, linear and precise, seamlessly silky, finely balancing piercing savoury red and black berry fruit concentration with subtle notes of black liquorice, salinity, graphite and stony schist liquid minerality. One of the Northern Rhône’s best kept secrets? Well, I am certainly happy to rave about this stunning 2017 Syrah. Drink now or over the next 5-8+ years.
Pepite is a delicious new natural wine produced by Anna Maria Cruciata and Hugh Maxwell, owners of the dynamic, quality focused Val di Toro estate in the Maremma that lies between Grosseto and Scansano. This is their first foray into the natural wine category with Pepite being produced with absolutely nothing added to the fermenting must or the finished wine which is made from 100% skin contact Vermentino.
The harvest for the Pepite Vermentino was done in two stages with the first phase occurring at the beginning of September 2019 when a small quantity of grapes were collected by hand and transported to the winery. These were used to prepare the ‘pied de cuvee’, utilizing the whole bunches and pressing them manually into a small vat. After about three days, once the juice had started fermenting naturally with its own yeasts, it was used to inoculate the other grapes which had been collected in the meantime, destemmed, pressed and placed into a steel vat.
After five days the grapes were pressed and during the first few days of fermentation several pump downs were performed. Five days into fermentation and the cap raised, settling occurred, followed by racking and the pressing of the must. The fermentation was concluded in stainless steel vats. Several more racking operations were carried out in the following weeks while the Pepite was ageing for five months in steel vats. Bottling occurred at the end of January 2020 without any filtration or additions of sulphur.
Val di Toro Pepite Vermentino Biologico 2019, IGT Costa Toscana, 12.5 Abv.
A truly wonderful skin contact white expression that combines pin point precision, wound spring tension and purity. Super linear and focused with a fine taut freshness laced with a lemon iced tea complexity, ginger biscuits, wild herbs, apple purée and crunchy white peach nuances. The intensity on the palate is pithy and slightly grippy with subtle hints of skin contact phenolics, green tea, walnuts, a stony liquid minerality and a long, cool, peachy, delicately saline fresh finish. Effortlessly drinkable, totally moreish, this is the type of wine you’ll need to buy multiple bottles of because they will disappear so quickly! A great characterful new wine from the Val di Toro team of Anna Maria and Hugh. Drink now and over the next 2 to 3 years.
With Covid-19 making a traditional tasting of the new Single Quintas Vintage Ports from the Symington Family Estates impossible in London, we fell back on the services of Zoom to listen to the facinating story of the 2018 vintage from Johnny Symington, group Chairman and Joint Managing Director and Harry Symington, the Symington group Communications Manager and also a 5th generation family member working with the Symington Family Estates. Cask samples were generously couriered from Portugal to allow a group of notable journalists to taste together including Port specialist Richard Mayson, Jancis Robinson and Neal Martin from Vinous.
So 2018 is another superb Single Quinta Vintage Port declaration for the Symington Family after doing the double with a classic Vintage Port declaration in 2016 and 2017. Like in 2015, another Single Quinta Vintage Port declaration year, the 2018s did not show quite enough consistency in quality across all the Douro Valley and across all their estates to merit another Vintage Port declaration. But as we alluded to over our Zoom tasting, the excellent quality of the 2015 Single Quinta Ports was often remarked upon by many consumers and journalists at the time and still today. But of course, this is the essence of the system that ensures which ever wines are released, Single Quintas or classic Vintage Port estate blends, the quality will be exceptional. The Single Quinta vintage wines do however represent excellent value for money with bottle quality that is certainly capable of outshining many other producers classic Vintage Ports.
With finished wines bottled in May, the Symingtons were pleased to launch their 2018 Single Quinta Vintage Ports. Only small quantities of these Ports were produced from six of their principal Quintas in 2018 and they selected two to release En-primeur this year – Quinta do Vesuvio and Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira. Both are situated in the Douro Superior on opposite sides of the river, one north-facing and the other south-facing. These estates delivered unique expressions of the vintage with lifted aromas that characterise the year. The other Single Quinta Vintage Ports produced in 2018 – Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos, Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim, Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha and Cockburn’s Quinta dos Canais – will age in their cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for future release.
The 2018 Single Quinta Vintage Ports are the result of a rollercoaster growing season – with a prolonged winter drought, a deluge in spring, and heat waves through the final ripening period. Despite the challenges, the 2018 wines are characterised by a well-defined acidity and marked freshness, reflecting the characteristics of specific parcels of vineyard within each estate. The star of the year was the late-maturing Touriga Franca, which excelled in this warm harvest. Yields were extremely low with just 950g per vine – 11% below the 10-year average from their vineyards – resulting in wines with stunning concentration and piercing intensity.
Quinta do Vesuvio 2018 Vintage Port
Considered to be one of the most magnificent estates in the Douro Valley, Quinta do Vesuvio is the last major property in the region to produce its Ports exclusively using the traditional method of treading in granite lagares – an unbroken tradition since the winery was built in 1827. 2018 delivered a notably more elegant Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port with incredible concentration on the palate, beautifully balanced by the freshness from the high-lying Touriga Nacional and Sousão. I found the wine to possess a super elegant expression while showing massive concentration. Very impressive indeed. Always a dense, powerful wine, the 2018 has a hint of extra tenderness and generosity on the palate.
Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira is one of the classic riverside Douro Quintas and has belonged to Dow’s Port since 1890. Famous for being one of the two principal estates that make up the legendary Dow’s Vintage Ports, the Quinta is also renowned for producing magnificent Single Quinta Vintage Ports. The late-ripening Touriga Franca from the south-facing ‘Pedreira’ vineyards thrived in the warm harvest in 2018. The warmer conditions in 2018 are reflected in a much riper style of Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port with more muscular and generous black fruit flavours. This 2018 is true to form showing the extra palate tannin grip, endless layers of broody black and blueberry fruit concentration and a spicy liquid minerality on the long, distinguished finish. Lovely.
Other wines tasted but not being released for 2020 En-primeur:
Cockburn’s Quinta dos Canais 2018 Vintage Port
Quinta dos Canais is laid out on a natural amphitheatre overlooking a pronounced bend in the Douro River. The estate has a large proportion of mature Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca which provide an essential component of Cockburn’s Vintage Ports. This 2018 Vintage Port is characterised by the estate’s signature aromas of esteva and cinnamon spice, delivered by the mature Touriga Nacional vines. With the warm final ripening period and low yields in 2018, the wine expresses a wonderful ripeness and concentration and plenty of dense meaty rich power and fragrant Touriga Nacional exoticism.
Quinta dos Malvedos has been the cornerstone of Graham’s Vintage Ports ever since it was acquired in 1890. The Quinta still contains large areas of traditional vineyard laid out on terraces supported by dry-stone walls, which face north-east, east and west, giving the estate wines a unique identity. This fabulous expression is driven by the superb Touriga Franca (50%) in the blend supported by the floral and aromatic blueberry fruited Touriga Nacional from the stone terraced vineyards which thrived in 2018, delivering the estate’s signature notes of eucalyptus and mint, a fine freshness and a lovely long and generous velvety finish with a sweet, minty, chocolately length.
(Wine Safari Score: 94-96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim 2018 Vintage Port
One of the finest Douro estates, Quinta do Bomfim is at the heart of Dow’s, providing the main structure for its legendary Vintage Ports since 1896. The estate is situated in the Upper Douro Valley with schist slopes arranged in vineyard terraces, which have yielded Dow’s most memorable wines for over a century. The sister estate of Senorha, the south-facing vineyards give fine even ripening with excellent ripeness. This wine shows plenty of muscle and power, spicy tannins and freshly cut hedgerow sapidity supported by notable freshness, sweet cassis and blackberry fruit and prominent palate texture and definition. Focused, powerful and very long. Plenty of the Dow ‘dark horse’ broody character.
Quinta da Cavadinha is the foundation of Warre’s Vintage Ports. A considerable proportion of the estate is made up of old, mixed vineyards, some of which are over half a century old. Yields are rarely above 1kg/vine and these grapes provide superb complexity and structure to the wines. The estate’s east-facing and high-lying vineyards played an important role in balancing the wines from 2018, with a well-defined acidity. The 440 metre altitude vineyards are always some of the last to be harvested with its wonderful mixed plantings of old vines. Notable elegance and freshness, purity and finesse with the most wonderful perfumed and complex ethereal aromatics of violets and lavendar. Extraordinary balance and harmony but also reveals an atypical exoticism and late season long hang time ripeness and complexity from the east facing vineyards.
Much contemplation and thought goes into not only reviewing such iconic new releases such as the Kanonkop Paul Sauer but also in deciding what the best tone of the opening overture should be. This year, my job has been done for me by the Drinks International Magazine and Wine Intelligence after they recently revealed that the Kanonkop Estate was listed among The World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands chosen by Drinks International’s academy of global drinks buyers and wine experts, including professionals from 48 different countries.
Here, Drinks International editor Martin Green explained the relevance and the prestige: “There are thousands of wineries vying for attention on a global basis, but just 50 elite brands have made the cut. To win a place on this prestigious list is a tremendous achievement, as there are a number of fantastic producers that missed out.” So I think we can all agree that this is a massive achievement. To have one’s hard work recognized locally is a fantastic honour. But to get this recognition bestowed by ones global peers must surely rank as the ultimate badge of success.
Reviewing the 2017 Paul Sauer was made so much harder after the 2015 was lauded with such high praise across the international wine media and also cracked the first 100/100 point rating for any new release South African wine from one critic. (The Fine Wine Safari rated the 2015 Paul Sauer 98+/100 pre-release on 8th June 2018).
However, in my mind, even more significant than this top honour was the way in which both winemaker Abrie Beeslaar and the overall Kanonkop Estate team went about their business in creating another iconic Paul Sauer release in 2016, a super hot, dry, difficult vintage in the Cape. I tasted this wine in May 2019 at the London Wine Trade Fair 2019 with owner Johann Krige and rated it a notable 95+/100. This excellent score was subsequently echoed by other international critics later in the year with a 96/100 point rating from both Neal Martin of Vinous and Tim Atkin MW.
But the 2017 vintage comes from another dry year that yielded yet again a fantastic world class expression of the Paul Sauer red blend. This legendary wine is of course named after Kanonkop’s patriarch and is a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The depth of flavour, structure and complexity offered by these three grape varieties is accentuated by 24 months’ ageing in new French oak to create a regal wine recognised as one of the best South Africa has to offer. The first official vintage was 1981, one year after Meerlust Estate’s maiden Rubicon blend and today, approximately 7,000 cases of 6 are produced subject to the overall vintage conditions.
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2017, WO Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, 14% Abv.
The 2017 Paul Sauer is a classic blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot from vines grown on prime Stellenbosch decomposed granite, Hutton and Clovelly soils with an average age of 30 years old. The vintage yielded a moderately low 4.5 tons per hectare or 2,750 litres per hectare, and was aged 24 months in new 225 litre French oak Nevers barrels. In my 2015 preamble, I stated that the perfect Paul Sauer blend seeks the comfort of the perfect balance between power and concentration, structure and freshness. This 2017 is undoubtedly elegance and seamless finesse personified. Possessing a deep garnet-purple colour, the aromatics are initially slightly restrained, unfurling cautiously to reveal a fabulous cornucopia of red and black summer berry fruits, black cherries, tart blue berries supported by complexing notes of crushed gravel and a vampish graphite vein. Like any truly great wine, every time you revisit your glass, yet more intricate notes assault the senses. Violets and lilac perfume, cherries immersed in black chocolate, blood and iron, freshly tilled earth and the most seductive kiss of promise from the premium French oak vanillins. The palate is exquisitely framed by fine talcum-like tannins and an invigorating acid freshness that resonates across the tongue. Once again the joyful poise and elegance of the weightless 2017 concentration and intensity confounds the senses, unfurling layer upon layer of black cherry kirsch liquor, crème de cassis and a tart, saline sea breeze freshness on the long exhilarating finish. For a wine like this, Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux is and always will be the road map region by which winemakers navigate their path to greatness. This 2017 Paul Sauer has all the subtlety and finesse, elegance and seamless balance to rival the greatest Bordeaux blends of France, while retaining its own unique South African signature imprint. Drink this wine on release to banish your curiosity but then cellar some of the rest for up to 30+ years. Undoubtedly another must have icon for collectors and drinkers alike.
David and Nadia Sadie’s assistant winemaker André Bruyns is really starting to make his own mark in the wider world of fine wine. Yes, I’m sure being referred to as ‘the assistant winemaker’ is a moniker that will eventually start to get annoying for André, but hey, there are certainly worse places to cut your winemaking teeth than working with the gentle giant David Sadie!
André wants his wines to be specific to their site and soil type with his white grapes coming from 35 year old dryland vineyards in the Paardeberg Mountain, planted mainly with Chenin Blanc. Farmed sustainably with some organic and biodynamic practices used, the granitic soils enhance the ‘liquid minerality ’ of the grapes leading to a more focused, taut, linear style of wines.
André kicked off the City on a Hill project with his fabulous 2015 white blend made from 85% Chenin Blanc, but he now also makes a 100% Chenin Blanc white using a selection of his best barrels that reflect the restraint and linearity of the unique Paardeberg style of Chenin Blanc. I recently got my hands on a bottle of the 2017 and true to form, André has produced another cracking wine! This is a great little project to watch closely!
City On A Hill Chenin Blanc 2017, WO Swartland, 12.5 Abv.
This is a fascinating expression of Chenin Blanc created by André Bruyns. It’s the liquid equivalent of an enigma wrapped in a mystery that’s wrapped in a conundrum. The aromatics show crystalline white peach and yellow citrus, early season crunchy yellow orchard fruits but also pronounced salty, briney oxidative saline sea breeze notes. Underneath it all is this profound sense of liquid granitic minerality that pervades the wine. On the palate the tug of war continues, being taut but rich, salty but peachy, stony and thoroughly citric. Delicious oxidative notes of brine and dry roasted nuts rub shoulders with crisp bright acids, yet more overt minerality and an ample fleshy Chenin palate that retains a tight, crisp tension-laden finish. Intellectually, this wine is exhausting; hedonistically, it possesses the palate excitement of an eight year old child’s birthday and Christmas rolled into one! Still super youthful so drink a few bottles now but be sure to cellar at least a few for revisiting over 8-15+ years. A deliciously intriguing white!
One of my life long mantras has always been that nice people make nice wines. After 11 years hard graft at Adoro Wines, in 2018 Ian finally followed his dreams and branched out with his own venture, launching Naude Family Wines. Focusing primarily on his old vine parcels of Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Cinsault and Grenache, Ian has also been teaching old dogs new tricks experimenting with some younger vine parcels of Swartland Chenin Blanc, Koekenaap Colombard and Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon.
The world’s most respected wine critic, Neal Martin, recently featured the Naude Family Wines Old Vine Series Chenin Blanc 2013, describing Ian as one of South Africa’s great unsung heroes of the Cape wine industry. For those that have been following Ian’s exceptional wines, they will know all too well of his incredible talent for bottling a vineyard’s unique terroir signature like capturing a liquid photograph.
Naude Family Wines A Naude Egg Chenin Blanc 2018, WO Western Cape, 13 Abv.
Sourced from a prime vineyard in the Swartland, this more accessibly priced baby Chenin Blanc from younger vines was naturally fermented with wild yeasts in a concrete egg without any additions whatsoever. The resulting wine is wonderfully balanced and bristles with energy and vivacity by way of a fine line of acidity. True to its Swartland origins, this impressive Chenin Blanc is understated and classical with a fine linear textural focus that builds in the mouth to reveal layers of pineapple pastille fruits, yellow orchard fruits, morning dew on fresh bales of hay, crunchy green apples and a complex stony granitic minerality on the finish. A truly versatile wine for all cuisines and all occasions, you can drink this baby Chenin on release or cellar for another 3 to 5+ years for added complexity.
By now we all know the tragedy that befell Samantha O’Keefe at her Greyton winery in 2019 when wild bushfires destroyed her winery and homestead together with her entire 2019 vintage. Fortunately, her 2018s were stored at another location and survived.
Samantha is thankfully back up and running in temporary cellar space and with the help of many in the SA wine industry, has produced wines from the superb 2020 vintage. With the 2018 vintages arriving in the UK in March, escaping the shackles of the South African export lockdown, I thought it was the perfect time to post this stellar review.
I tasted the 2018 Reserve Syrah for the first time in October 2019 and kept a second bottle until May 2020 to watch it settle further. This wine is a towering achievement and in one glassful, summarises the greatness being achieved with all the wines at Lismore, especially the Reserve ranges made from Greyton estate fruit, but also makes the pain of losing the entire 2019 production that much more heartfelt and tragic.
If you can get your hands of some of this wine, you absolutely must!
Lismore Reserve Syrah 2018, WO Greyton, 12.5 Abv.
This suave, sophisticated Syrah offering made from 100% Greyton estate fruit used 50% of whole bunches in the fermentation before being aged in both 500 and 700 litre French oak barrels with roughly a third of new oak. After following this wine from its maiden release, the 2018 towers above anything that has come before. The bouquet is mesmerising, lifted, intricate, showing perfumed violets and fragrant dried lavender with striking notes of pink musk, dusty limestone minerality, grilled winter chestnuts, bonfire cinders and an attractive savoury, earthy black berry, black cherry complexity. The palate is so incredibly lithe and elegant, pure, fresh and linear with fabulous luminosity and brightness of fruit. Wonderfully intense and focused yet simultaneously light on its feet, this stellar release is a dead ringer for the finest, most elegant Cote Roties from the Northern Rhône. A truly epic, spellbinding creation from Samantha O’Keefe. Drink on release or cellar for 10+ years.