The Exciting Young Talent Putting the Helderberg On the Global Fine Wine Map – Tasting the Phenomenal Wines of Bernhard Bredell…

As someone who is very fortunate enough to have access to almost any winery and winemaker in South Africa, I often get asked who I think are the most exciting new talents emerging on the South African wine scene. Of course, there are so many phenomenal young producers emerging in the colourful wine industry landscape of the Western Cape that it makes picking out one or two almost seem foolish. But every now and then you meet special personalities and taste new releases that leave you contemplating the wines days or even weeks after tasting. One such producer is Bernhard Bredell.

The Granietsteen Chenin Blanc tastes and smells just like the vineyard from whence it comes!

Bernhard Bredell is the 7th generation of a family that has farmed in the Lower Helderberg area of Stellenbosch for over 160 years and his own Scions of Sinai label is a project he started in 2016 in an effort to save old vineyards that were planted by his grandfather Koos Bredell around a particular granitic hill known as Sinai. Bernhard’s winery now processes 20 tons of fruit producing around 1,250 cases of wine that are incredibly exciting, premium in quality and distinctly terroir driven.

The view from Sinai across the valley towards the Helderberg Mountain range.
Old Vine Chenin Blanc planted in 1978.
Bernhard tasting the Granietsteen Chenin Blanc 2021 in the vineyard it’s grapes come from with friend and mentor Ian Naudé in March 2022.

I myself grew up buying and drinking the excellent fortified wines of Anton Bredell, Bernhard’s father, made under the JP Bredells Cape Port label. But over the years, with fortified wines falling out of favour with the mass market, and after a series of unsuccessful still wine brands together with expensive marketing projects going awry, the family winery was eventually closed and sold off in 2011.

But Bernhard Bredell has winemaking in his DNA and coursing through his veins, so any notions of opting out of the wine industry to pursue other interests was never an option. The Scions of Sinai winery was launched with the 2017 vintages made from grapes sourced from vineyards grown on Firgrove, 4kms from the Atlantic Ocean. Bernhard currently uses five single vineyards and then some smaller half hectare plots. These include a Grenache Blanc made from a vineyard located in the Klein Karoo near the Swartberg Mountains and Meiringspoort, planted in 2009 on Schist and Shale soils, producing 600 bottles called the Gramadoelas; the Granietsteen Chenin Blanc; the Heldervallei Cinsault; the Swanesang Syrah; the Feniks Pinotage and the Nomadis Cinsault / Pinotage Blend. All vineyards are secured on contracts and have been farmed organically for over 5 years.

Scions of Sinai Range Tasting:

Scions of Sinai Granietsteen Chenin Blanc 2019, Helderberg (1978)

Sourced from a Chenin Blanc vineyard planted in 1978 on decomposed granite soils with very low fertility, high drainage and very low cropping levels that helps create intense flavour development in the grapes. There is a pre-fermentation maceration for around 3 nights for 70% on skins, 30% wholebunch pressed. Grapes are picked when they express the purity of the vineyard site while retaining naturally high acids. After fermentation, the wine is aged in large 400 litre barrels and kept on its lees for 9-10 months before being bottled unfiltered and unfined.

Bernhard Bredell Scions of Sinai Granietsteen Chenin Blanc 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

After tasting the excellent maiden 2017 vintage a few years ago, Bernhard delivers another very self-assured performance with this delightful 2019 Chenin Blanc. Made from another seriously good white vintage from 43 year old vines planted in 1978, this wine is rich and expressive and boasts fabulous aromatics of pear puree, white flowers, yellow orchard fruits and seductive top notes of freshly baked apple strudel. The palate is fresh and bright with hints of toasted hazelnuts and walnuts, pithy peach stone fruits, pineapple pastille and a delicate note of maritime salinity and brine on the finish. Wonderfully textural and concentrated, this wine makes your mouth water with its deliciously tangy acids and enticing umami characters. Dry, intense and packed full of liquid minerality from the decomposed granite soils, this wine is already building up a solid cult following among the hardcore Chenin Blanc cognoscente. Drink now or enjoy over 8 to 10 years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Scions of Sinai Feniks Pinotage 2019, Helderberg (1976)

In 2018 Bernhard moved into the old Helderberg farm called Klein Helderberg and has since produced four vintages there from old vine dry farmed bush vines yielding 3.5 to 4 tons per hectare. The vines produce tiny grapes on very small bunches. The soils are high in silica (fine sand) making for very fragrant wines compared to those made from vines grown on heavier clay soils. 70% of grapes are whole bunch and 30% destemmed, with around 10% undergoing semi-maceration carbonique in tank. Basket pressed after 12-13 days on the skins into 400 litre oak barrels that are normally a minimum of 4 years old for 12 months of ageing.

Bernhard Bredell Scions of Sinai Feniks Pinotage 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 12% Abv.

There are many styles of Pinotage being produced in South Africa, but it is perhaps the fresher, earlier picked, brighter style that has started to resonate the loudest with international fine wine consumers and this is another of these vibrant examples that simply bristles with crunchy red cherry fruited energy. Fabulously energetic and intense, the aromatics boast mouth-watering notes of black cherry, black currant, lavender, dried herbs, incense and a hint of bramble berry spice. Despite its lower alcohol and bright super fresh acids, this wine manages to retain an impressive depth of fruit, ample concentration and a fine, linear texture. I’m hesitant to say this is the future of Pinotage in the fine wine market as there are so many who pour scorn on the lighter, crunchy Pinot Noir-styled Pinotages, but there is certainly a massive following already developing for this purer style of wine. Drink this on release or you can certainly expect some flavour fireworks after 5 to 8+ years of bottle ageing. Very much worth seeking out. (864 bottles produced.)

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

Scions of Sinai Swanesang Syrah 2019 (1996) – SH1A Clone

Produced from apparently the last known bushvine Syrah in the Helderberg that yields spicy dark fruits loaded with rosemary and thyme herbal nuances.The fruit also retains a very low pH and crisp acids… 12.5% to 13.2% Abv. Combination of whole cluster, 30% stems intact, used for the very slow fermentation followed by 5 to 6 days maceration on the skins before being pressed to 400 litre barrels for 12 months ageing with an additional 2 to 3 months ageing in bottle.

Bernhard Bredell Scions of Sinai Swanesang Syrah 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 12.5% Abv.

There is no doubt that Syrah is the hot property on the South African market garnering high critical praise and scores from international critics far and wide. Of course there is Syrah, but then there is Syrah on decomposed granite… a soil profile that definitely raises the perfumed aromatic profile of a wine while simultaneously dropping the pH levels and adding incredible freshness and tension. The Swanesang is made from fruit from a young vineyard ‘only’ planted in 1996 and the profile of these single clone SH1A vines is definitely on the purer, fresher, more perfumed red fruited spectrum of the scale. Once again, the granitic soils perform their transformative magic on the vines. In this specific cuvee, between 30 to 50% of whole bunches were employed delivering a fabulously expressive nose of violets, sweet baking herbs, red cherry, cranberry and alluring liquid mineral notes. The palate is super fresh and bright with intense red fruited concentration, revealing tart Victoria plum, cranberry sours and yet more red cherry fruit with just a smattering of black pepper and granitic minerality. A thoroughly engaging wine. Drink now and over 10 to 12+ years. (1,204 bottles produced.)

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Bernhard Bredell Scions of Sinai Granietsteen Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Stellenbosch, 12.5% Abv.

Another real terroir expression from old vine Chenin Blanc planted in 1978. Harvested on the 29th of January, this single vineyard expression from bush vines displays an impressive aromatic intensity with layers of peppery white citrus, white flowers, crushed granite, dried herbs green herbs and subtle fynbos notes. Like many Chenins grown on decomposed granite that aren’t picked too late, the nose and palate are dominated by an intense liquid minerality that dances across the palate with fresh zippy Sherbety acids, notes of almond skins, tart green pears, citrus peel and yet more liquid minerality. If ever a wine expressed the terroir of the vineyard it’s sourced from, this is it. Drink now and over the next 10 to 15+ years. (1,950 bottles produced.)

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Bernhard Bredell Scions of Sinai Heldervallei Cinsault 2020, WO Stellenbosch, 12.5% Abv.

Produced from beautiful old bush vine Cinsault vines planted in 1988, situated right next door to Bernhard’s Chenin Blanc vineyard. The aromatics are powerful and intense unfurling with layers of red and black berry fruits, sweet exotic grilled spices, damson plum, rose petals, grey slate and smoky crushed granitic minerality with a hint of juniper. On the palate there is real precision and focus but also Bernhard’s trademark liquid minerality, dried herbs, pithy cranberry, hints of cherry pips and phenomenal dry, stony fine grained tannins. Quite a unique style that has more in common with a young premier cru Cotes de Nuits Pinot Noir tasted from barrel than a Cinsault. This wine is fabulously delicious but also shows serious ageworthy depth and intensity. Drink now to 2030+.

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

Wines are available in the UK market from merchant Indigo Wines.

Assessing the New Releases from Mullineux Wines – Part 3: Tasting the Olerasay 3º Solera Straw Wine…

Every year since 2008 the Mullineuxs have made a vintage Straw Wine. The two vineyards they chose to make this very sweet but incredibly special Straw Wine are naturally very high in acid, flavour and structure. This way, when they pick the grapes at normal ripeness and then dry them outside during the desiccation process, they are not just concentrating sugar and flavour but also increasing the intense, zesty acidity that is so critically important when making a balanced Straw Wine.

After drying the grapes for several weeks, the grapes are crushed and pressed into barrel where a long, slow natural fermentation takes place. Along with the concentration of acids in the wine, there is a concentration of specifically the malic acid. This high level of malic acid prevents the onset of Malolactic fermentation, which of course seems counter intuitive. The wine always stops its slow fermentation naturally after 8-10 months, so no additional intervention takes place and (here’s where the difference is), while the vintage Straw Wine is bottled, a few barrels are selected that go into a special Solera system of barrel aging that was started with their first Mullineux vintage back in 2008. They decided to bottle the first iteration of OLERASAY (1º) that was a fractional blend of 2008 to 2014, when it was different enough from the regular vintage straw wine. The 2º bottling then took place five years later when the 2008-2019 OLERASAY was considered different enough from the first release.

Now they are releasing the OLERASAY 3º which has not only completed the original drying process off the vine but has continued to concentrate and stabilise in barrel over all of those years, concentrating again in sugar, flavour and natural acidity but also in extract, layers of mouthfeel and additional complexity. As Andrea confidently says… “this wine is bulletproof.” The maiden release was a real revelation and took the market by storm. In a world where apparently fine wine drinkers don’t buy sweet wine anymore, the wine received a rapturous welcome from consumers and collectors alike. The 5,000+ plus bottle production did not last very long in the market making the five year long wait until the second release a very thirsty and gruelling period of time for sweet wine lovers. The second release was rated 99/100 by A FINE WINE SAFARI and an astonishing 100/100 by Neal Martin at VINOUS Media. All eyes are now on the third, smaller bottling, and if initial mutterings from critics are anything to go by, this wine should continue the incredible success the OLERASAY brand has enjoyed since its inception.

Mullineux OLERASAY 3º, WO Swartland, 8.42% Abv.

375 g/l RS | 11.2 g/l TA | 3.3 pH

Picked with yields around 4 tons per hectare with a balling of 22 at harvest, the concentration and intensity of this wine is clear to see from the word go. The aromatics on opening initially were slightly more boldly fruity with youthful nuances of peaches and dried apricot, marmalade, passion fruit and honey. But with a little time and exposure to air, the nose becomes a lot more perfumed and intricate as it starts to unfurl to show more of its solera complexity. The aromatics display notes of dried rose petals, peach tea, chamomile and honey and an underlying note of dried straw, freshly baked apple strudel pastries and crème brulee. On the palate the texture is dreamy and plush, superbly balanced with a silky soft glycerol texture that glides off the tongue like a drop of oil on a block of ice. The intensity is focused and fabulously potent with incredible depth and breadth without ever becoming too unctuous, overwhelming, or too sweet thanks to a deliciously intense, invigorating tangy acidity. The finish is splendidly long and persistent leaving an attractive aftertaste of caramelized almonds, marzipan and dried guava roll. Simply pitch perfect. What else can one say other than this truly is an extraordinary and unique vinous creation. Drink now and over the next 40+ years. (1,800 x 375cl bottles released.)

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

Assessing the New Releases from Mullineux Wines – Part 1: Tasting the Single Terroir 2021 Chenin Blanc Whites…

The Mullineuxs have put an immense amount of blood, sweat and tears into creating their Mullineux Old Vine White Blend and their Mullineux Syrah. With the latest releases in 2022, we see both wines rising to unseen levels of quality and the 2021 Old Vine White is definitely their most distinguished creation to date. A wine not to be missed. But these wines only tell half the story. Much of the rise in quality of these larger production wines from a blend of vineyard sites can be attributed to the knowledge and expertise acquired over the past decade of producing the more niche Mullineux Single Terroir wines.

With the 2021 whites and 2020 red releases, the Mullineuxs have been granted permission from all farmers and vineyard owners involved to use the actual farm names on all the labels for the first time across the range. Previously, only the Mullineux Schist wines carried the Roundstone designation on the front labels. With all the experience and expertise has also come an extra confidence for the Mullineuxs to trumpet the site-specific origin of these wines, all of which now show noticeably specific vineyard traits and similarities from their terroirs year after year. I caught up with the power couple Chris and Andrea Mullineux recently and tasted through their new range of wines with them.

The Single Terroir Whites:

Wines were tasted from Zalto Bordeaux glasses and reviewed over the course of three days.

Mullineux Granite Eikelaan Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Swartland, 13.98% Abv.

1.9 g/l RS | 6.5 g/l TA | 3.27 pH

These grapes grown on the Paardeberg showcase everything the Mullineuxs are looking for in wines that hail from Granite Soils. The roots grow deep, so the canopy remains very full, protecting it from sun and temperature fluctuations. The grapes then retain more freshness and perfume. At the winery, the grapes are whole bunch pressed and the juice is handled oxidatively to protect it later in its life. All of the juice is racked to barrel (0% new because they want all of the elements of this wine’s terroir to show through so consumers are tasting the soil and not the barrel, but older wood is still desired because of the positive micro-oxygenation effect it naturally has on the wine) where it undergoes natural primary and secondary fermentation and lives on the lees, un-stirred (the texture is coming from the South African Sun and Old Vines) until racking out of barrel to prepare for bottling after 11 months. Andrea leave’s the barrels full as long as possible because a full barrel is a happy barrel. The wine is bottled unfiltered to further showcase the Swartland Granite terroir.

The 2021 vintage in the Swartland was late because it was such a slow, cool and balanced vintage which shows in the wines, especially with the Granite Chenin Blanc due to longer hang times adding extra texture and mouthfeel to compliment the Granite’s racy acidity and linear tension. Across the range, the ripening of the Iron vineyard came first, followed by the Schist vineyard, ending with the Granite vineyard, picked over a 10-day period of time differentiation with no heatwaves. With the two weeks of extra hangtime, the wine displays more alluring yellow orchard fruit notes together with aromatic layers of tangerine, greengage plums and yellow citrus nuances. While there may be ample exotic fruit notes on the nose, all the intense granitic liquid minerality that is so typical for this wine are clear to be seen on the palate, supported by a zippy but tangy fresh acidity, an impressively sleek, sumptuous palate texture and the most delicious mouth-watering intensity on the finish. A super fine expression of how a taut, linear Chenin Blanc can also be so incredibly multi-dimensional in a top vintage. Simply a majestic drop of wine to drink now and over the next 20+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Schist Roundstone Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Swartland, 13.95% Abv.

1.7 g/l RS | 5.8 g/l TA | 3.40 pH

These very special and characterful grapes grown on Kasteelberg showcase the essence of the Mullineux estate, Roundstone, and its ability to define Chenin Blanc grown on Schist soils. These rocky soils limit vine size and so the clusters and individual grapes, in turn remain smaller with a higher skin to juice ratio, offering positive white-wine tannins and texture. At the winery the grapes are whole bunch pressed and the juice is handled oxidatively to protect it later in its life. All of the juice is racked to barrel (0% new because Andrea wants all of the elements of this wine’s terroir to show through so drinkers are tasting the soil and not the barrel, but older wood is still desired because of the positive micro-oxygenation effect it naturally has on the wine) where it undergoes natural primary and secondary fermentation and lives on the lees, un-stirred until racking out of barrel to prepare for bottling after 11 months.

Coming from fruit from a young vineyard of seven years old which was picked almost two to three weeks later than normal. The shallower, rockier soils of the Roundstone vineyard traditionally yield more stone fruit aromatic nuances with the 2021 expression also boasting multiple layers of white and green citrus, pear puree, golden delicious apples and complex white peach notes intertwined with savoury dried herbs and subtle struck flint reductive hints. On the palate the wine is full and expansive but wonderfully precise and seamless, gliding over the palate with hints of honey of white toast, quince, white peach puree and an incredible concentration before melting away slowly to leave a dry, picante, phenolic tinged impression on the finish. A wine with striking depth, concentration and generosity. Drink now and over the next 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Mullineux Iron Rondomskrik Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Swartland, 12.65% Abv.

1.5 g/l RS | 5.7 g/l TA | 3.49 pH

Grown on the Iron soils on the rolling red hills that surround Malmesbury, these vineyards grow on the clay and gravel rich Koffieklip that is very good at holding water and very generous during primary growth in the sprint, but then around verasion, the clay in the soil stops releasing moisture and the vine compensates during this quick ripening phase by making the smallest of grapes, but because of the canopy, the skins are not too thick. This gives us wines that are rich and round, yet for some reason, always the lowest alcohol conversions for similar sugars across the Single Terroir Range (they are all picked at the same ripeness). At the winery the grapes are whole bunch pressed and the juice is handled oxidatively to protect it later in its evolution. All of the juice is then racked into used oak barrels (older wood is still desired because of the positive micro-oxygenation effect it naturally has on the wine) where it undergoes natural primary and secondary fermentation and lives on the lees, un-stirred until racking out of barrel to prepare for bottling after 11 months.

Only the second white single terroir expression produced from this white vineyard, the aromatics boast and incredibly reductive character with notes of struck flint, wet river stones and wet hay. Always a wine that tends toward reduction making it a real characteristic of the vineyard, even with oxidative handling. The palate is smoky and chalky, thoroughly mineral driven at the moment but with big mid-palate weight and concentration from a high dry extract. There is plenty of inherent detail and precision, an incredibly fine line of acidity supporting distinct notes of quince, chamomile, green herbs, savoury bruised yellow orchard fruits and a dried mint leaf nuance on the long intense finish. This is a wine that will need some extra time in bottle to show at its best but should be a stunner when it approaches its peak maturity. Drink from 2024 to 2035+.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Wines available to the wine trade in the UK from their importer Liberty Wines and in the USA from Skurnik Wines. RRP in the UK circa £49pb for whites and £78pb for the reds. In South Africa, R1175pb for the reds and R630pb for the whites cellar door.

Natte Valleij Release a Nervy New 2021 Old Vine Chenin Blanc with Real Character…

The Axle Chenin Blanc is made by Alex Milner of Natte Valleij winery from grapes sourced from a dryland old bush vine certified Darling heritage block planted in 1985 on decomposed granite soils. Made in a very minimalist, low intervention manner without losing any of its fine wine integrity, this wine is a classy textural style of Chenin Blanc undoubtedly best enjoying with food.

The grapes were basket pressed and allowed to settle for 24 hours, then racked into old 225 litre oak barrels with careful addition of fine lees sediment to each barrel. After natural fermentation the wine received regular batonnage until late May. Aged in barrel over winter, the wine was bottled in the Spring after 9 months.

Natte Valleij Axle Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Darling, 12.5% Abv.

2.8 g/l RS | 5.5 g/l TA | 3.75 pH

This delicious expression comes across as quite a rustic, natural leaning artisanal Chenin Blanc with aromatics of pear, pineapple pastille, sea breeze, sweet yellow orchard fruits, dried herbs and stony granitic minerality. The palate shows tension and frame with pithy phenolic grip, tangy layers of quince, root ginger, white pear, yellow apple and a subtle sweet – sour acidity that lends the wine such a delicious vibrant energy and intensity. Wonderfully characterful old vine Chenin Blanc from certified heritage vineyards. Drink now and over the next 3 to 5 years.

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

Assessing the Ken Forrester 2021 Reserve Chenin Blanc That Won Big at the Decanter World Wine Awards…

As results for the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards start to be released, it was revealed that the Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021 from Ken Forrester Vineyards was awarded a show stopping 97/100 points. Tasting a wine blind under competition conditions is always difficult but sometimes does throw up some unique results. As a previous panel chair for South Africa in 2020 and 2021, I know that to receive a 97 point score the wine would have to have been tasted two or three times by different judges as part of the thorough assessment process. So results cannot and should not be viewed as “flukes.”

I recently caught up in London with the legend himself, Ken Forrester, and we tasted the 2021 Chenin Blanc among other wines. Always a wine that represents outstanding quality for the money (circa £14-£15 per bottle retail), it remains one of the great “recession-busting” bargains of the South African wine industry. Imported into the UK by Enotria & Coe.

Ken Forrester Vineyards Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

A wonderfully expressive Old Vine Chenin Blanc for the money with intriguing aromatic layers of rock salt and tangerine peel, white citrus, green fig, yellow grapefruit and green granny smith apple pastille. The palate follows with lovely glycerol layers of pear and white peach, apple bon bons and chalky cream soda melon notes, finishing with yet more salinity and subtle granitic minerality. A delicious wine with great intensity and concentration that will leave drinkers with a smile on their face! Drink now and over the next 8 to 10 years.

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

Brookdale Winery Coming of Age With Their Stunning new 2020 Chenin Blanc Release…

Brookdale is an impressive winery owned by Englishman Tim Rudd that is planted with 20+ year old Chenin Blanc vines as well as several other special Chenin Blanc blocks that are now fully certified as 37 year old Old Vines planted in 1985, situated at the foot of the lofty Du Toitskloof Pass in Paarl.

The property was bought by the Rudd family who instantly kick started a widespread replanting programme where sustainable viticulture and farming for the future generations were at the centre of their ethos. The first vintage of their new field blend white was recently released and will be reviewed on the Fine Wine Safari in coming weeks. With most of the previous vineyards acquired with the original estate very neglected, most were uprooted with only the old vine Chenin Blanc blocks retained. This exceptional site offers altitude and granitic soils rich in clay and schist that are perfectly suited for Chenin Blanc and in their 4th vintage, the true pedigree of the Brookdale terroir is finally being revealed with an exceptional white wine.

The Paarl Old Vine certified Chenin Blanc vineyard planted in 1985.

With winemaker Kiara Scott taking Brookdale forward from the 2019 vintage, Kiara is a young winemaker who studied at Elsenberg before being selected to join the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege Programme. Kiara has worked vintages in the Rhône Valley, Sancerre and the Russian River in Sonoma, California. Duncan Savage, who produced the first two vintages, still acts as a consultant to the ambitious Brookdale project helping them to meet their lofty aspirations.

Brookdale Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard 2020, WO Paarl, 13.5% Abv.

Now a designated single vineyard Chenin Blanc, and newly labelled as such, the 2020 certainly rises to the challenge to offer an old vine intensity and quality that exceeds anything released from Brookdale previously. Everything is text book here and assembled with absolute precision. The aromatics burst forth with lofty notes of tangy sweet and sour yellow citrus, wet straw, hints of pineapple pastille and sweet herbal notes of fynbos and dried thyme. Fabulous lift and intensity continue to the opulent palate that shows an impressive concentration of white peach and citrus fruits with a tangerine kiss underpinned by fabulously tangy acids and a pronounced stony wet river pebble minerality on the long, unctuous finish. A wine with a revved up complexity and intensity but also a delightfully sophisticated balance. This is top level Tetris where all the blocks have slotted in together seamlessly to create a wine of beauty. Enjoy on release and over the next 10 to 12+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

A Seminal Vintage in the Crayfish Journey – Tasting Sakkie Mouton’s 4th Chenin Blanc Release…

After a two year absence from the Cape, I promised myself that I’d do a little West Coast road trip when I next visited the winelands. With a lot of help from Ian Naudé, this trip came to fruition in March 2022, beginning by collecting Sakkie Mouton in Malmesbury before heading up the coast. We stopped for an incredible Wes Kus lunch at the Wolfgat restaurant and this is where I first tasted Sakkie’s 2021 Full On Misfit as well as a recently bottled Crayfish 2021.

As both bottles were consumed with the incredible Wolfgat tasting menu, I obviously had a pretty good idea what I was in for when Sakkie sent me a finished, labelled and waxed bottle of the Revenge of the Crayfish 2021 to reassess in the more neutral surrounds of London.

Tasting with Sakkie Mouton at the Wolfgat Restaurant in Paternoster.

The vineyards for the Crayfish Chenin Blanc are located on well-drained sandy soils, about five kilometres from the cold Atlantic ocean, which receive a constant cooling effect from the sea that moderates the temperatures in this warm coastal region.

Confident and self-assured… Sakkie Mouton and the Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2021!

Grapes were hand harvested early in the morning, then taken to the cold room and cooled down for one night. This was done before being whole bunch pressed in an old basket press, followed by settling for twelve hours without any addition of enzymes except for a little Sulphur. The clear juice was then racked off and taken to 3rd and 4th fill 228L and 400L barrels as well as a batch fermented in stainless steel. Natural fermentation ensued for four weeks. After fermentation was completed the lees was regularly stirred once a week for eight months. Post fermentation carried out over a period of eight months on the gross lees before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Koekenaap, 12.93% Abv.

1.1 g/l RS | 7.5 g/l TA | 3.11 pH

The refinement of this 2021 Chenin Blanc must surely represent a seminal moment in the evolution of the Crayfish Blanc. All the tell tale signs of the ‘Wes Kus’ are evident on the nose with multiple waves of maritime sea breeze, kelp on the beach and rock salt that combine with distinctly savoury, leesy biscuit nuances, waxy Granny Smith apples, yellow grapefruit citrus and wet stone mineral complexity. The beautiful palate shows noticeably extra textural depth and breadth compared to earlier vintages but also incredible intensity and piercing fruit concentration. There are notes of white citrus, tangerine peel, tart green apples, tangy lemon cordial and subtle notes of fresh litchi juice dusted with rock salt, dried fynbos herbs and nori seaweed. Fabulous precision and focus combine to make this one hell of a wine that finishes with deliciously tangy lemony acids and a pronounced saline white citrus fruit persistency. This is next level Chenin Blanc in my book that celebrates its own unique sense of place together with a maturing winemaking know-how. Simply stunning. Undoubtedly Sakkie’s best yet. Drink from release and over the next 10 to 15+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Alheit Family Wines Hereafter Here 2020 – Tasting the Impressive New Chenin Blanc…

Never one to rest on his laurels, Chris Alheit is probably one of the hardest working winemakers in South Africa and, rightly so, one of the most successful too. After recovering from his mid-life crisis speed wobble a few years ago when he threatened to terminate the Cartology project, Chris has knuckled down to refocus on not only the quality of his sought-after single vineyard wines but has also continued to increase the quality of his mega-brand Cartology.

So with everything on his plate, Chris of course decided to create yet another SKU in his portfolio, this time a young bush vine Chenin Blanc at a slightly more accessible price point. Certainly not another Flotsam & Jetsam revival brand… the grapes for this new edition come from two young blocks in Stellenbosch, 70% from Polkadraai Hills and 30% from the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley. The juice was spontaneously fermented and matured in used oak barrels before bottling.

Alheit Family Wines Hereafter Here Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Western Cape, 13.5% Abv.

This is definitely an exciting Chenin Blanc and initially on opening showed some of the opulent, fruity, fleshy exuberance that I remember tasting on the very first Cartology 2011. The aromatics are loaded with ripe pear, quince, peach, apple purée and hints of melted honey on warm white toast with sweet dried herb nuances. The palate is tangy and bright with a fleshy mouthfeel, a creamy rich texture that shows an impressively savoury yellow orchard fruit concentration with deliciously fresh acids that lend structure and balance. This is an impressive debut for this new young vine cuvee from Chris Alheit. Drink now to enjoy its youthful opulence and over the next 3 to 6+ years. (9,036 bottles produced)

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Another Strong Performance from the Carinus Family Wines Polkadraai Heuwels Chenin Blanc 2020…

Cousins Danie and Hugo are 5th generation growers with prime vineyards in the Swartland, Devon Valley and the very exciting Polkadraai ward in Stellenbosch. Great wine is made in the vineyards and they supply a roll-call of exceptional producers – names like Alheit Vineyards, Crystallum, Raats Family Wines, Thorne & Daughters, Mulderbosch and LeRiche to name but a few. Embodying the drive of the new generation Hugo and Danie decided not only to sell grapes but to make some wine too. So started Carinus Family Wines using a selection of grapes from their extensive vineyard plantings to focus on producing some high quality reds and whites that offer excellent value for money.

The 2020 Polkadraai Hills Chenin Blanc is already their third release. After whole bunch pressing the juice was moved to concrete eggs for fermentation and ageing which took ten months. The granitic soils and total absence of oak has created a pure but punchy wine with an attractive “nakedness” on display with a perfect balance of pH (3.14) and acidity (6.6g/l) that should allow this wine to develop further beneficial complexity with additional ageing in bottle.

Carinus Family Wines Polkadraai Heuwels Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Polkadraai Hills

An attractive Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc that displays a wonderfully cool, sleek, mineral laden aromatics flushed with stony gravel notes, fynbos, crunchy green pear, white peach and subtle salty citrus zest nuances. On the palate, a lovely full texture marries restrained elegance with a glycerol liquid minerality, lime zest and quince nuances and a long, stony wet river pebble finish. Concrete egg Chenin Blanc has never been more sexy! Drink on release and over 6 to 8+ years.

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

Sakkie Mouton Releases His Second Vintage of the Full On Misfit White Blend 2021…

What a whirlwind couple of years it has been for young talent Sakkie Mouton. With his maiden single barrel of Revenge of the Crayfish 2018 sold out practically before it was even released, all eyes turned to his follow up 2019 Chenin Blanc that just about managed to hit several export markets before the pandemic lockdowns descended. However, 2020 saw not only Sakkie’s third release of his Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc but also the new Full On Misfit Blanc, which, in 2020 was based mostly around a solid chunk of 56% Chenel (the Chenin Blanc x Ugni Blanc cross) and a 24% component of Colombard.

I would say that the two lost years of the pandemic have resulted in Sakkie’s wines becoming even more sought after as he has taken this opportunity to focus on fine tuning his winemaking style while experimenting with new varieties such as Colombard and Vermentino. In reality, Sakkie’s wines are almost impossible to get your hands on at the best of times, pandemic or no pandemic! So on my first trip back to South Africa’s winelands since February 2020, I caught up with Sakkie up the West Coast over lunch at Wolfgat Restaurant, recently voted the best restaurant in the world, to try some of his exciting new releases.

Lunch with Sakkie Mouton at Wolfgat Restaurant in Paternoster.

The Full On Misfit Blanc 2021 is a white blend of four different areas around the North Western Coast of the Western Cape. Each of these areas are located in close proximity to the cold Atlantic Ocean and the vineyards are a mix of old vines around the West Coast starting in Vredendal, Lutzville and Koekenaap. This year the Full On Misfit is made up of 55% Colombard, 21% Chenin Blanc, 19% Palomino and 5 % Chenel. All of the grapes were picked early in the morning to preserve freshness and then foot stomped in an old basket press without the addition of any additives except for a small amount of sulphur. The grapes were naturally fermented and left to age on their gross lees for eight months prior to being bottled unfiltered and unfined. The maturation took place in a blend of 228 litre and 500 litre 4th fill and older casks.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Full On Misfit Blanc 2021, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

1.9 RS | 7.6 TA | 3.24 pH

The 2021 Full On Misfit is an incredibly well assembled wine baring all the hallmarks that have made Sakkie Mouton’s previous releases so collectable. The aromatics scream West Coast terroir with layers of salinity, sea breeze and dried kelp over more linear expressions of white peach, freshly squeezed guava, pear puree and honeydew melon nuances. The ever-present crushed granite minerality adds extra complexity and character but also ensures that the wine never becomes too overtly fruity but rather errs on the side of a leaner classical textural restraint. The palate on this young wine shows fabulous crystalline purity and freshness with yet more waves of crunchy peach fruits, maritime salinity and delicate savoury notes of Japanese nori. The finish is taut, pithy and electric with a fine glycerol mid-palate balance and attractive hints of dried orange peel, lime cordial and brine. Another delicious addition to Sakkie’s line up, but more importantly, this is a wine that signals his growing confidence and expertise expressed with a certain ‘West Coast swagger’. Drink now and over the next 5 to 8+ years.

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