If Chenin Blanc has become Ian Naude’s white wine calling card, then there is no doubt whatsoever that Old Vine Cinsault is his red equivalent despite the cult following for his incredible Grenache wines. Ian Naudé was recently over in London to launch a comprehensive selection of his new vintage releases including his Platter 5 Star Langpad Colombard 2021, his Platter 5 Star Oupa Willem 2019 Cape Heritage Blend, his Grenache 2019, and of course his long awaited Old Vine Cinsault 2016.
This benchmark expression of Darling / Swartland Old Vine Cinsault has now been labelled the Werfdans, an Afrikaans name for the small dust whirlwinds that spin and dance around the dusty coastal vineyards of the Swartland. If you are not familiar with Ian Naude’s Old Vine Cinsault wines, be sure not to miss this new creation that rivals the greatest expressions produced in South Africa from the likes of Eben Sadie, Duncan Savage, Donovan Rall and Mullineux Family Wines’ Leeu Passant venture.
Naude Family Wines Werfdans Old Vine Cinsault 2016, WO Darling, 12.5% Abv.
The fruit for this 100% Darling 43+ year old vine Cinsault was sourced from the late Boetie van Reenen’s farm in the Swartland. While the 2014 vintage was a slow burner that sizzled invitingly until it finally exploded with exuberance after a few years in bottle, the 2015 release was and is a long-standing icon wine that came close to redefining premium Cinsault in South Africa. In the 2016, Ian Naudé has shifted into sixth gear, coaxing some of the most seductive textures and flavours out of his old vine fruit. The aromatics are positively brimming with marzipan, Turkish delight, dried coriander seeds, violets and rose petal perfume with a subtle kiss of lychee exoticism. On the palate the quality shift is witnessed in full focus with a beguiling combination of sweet seductive red berry fruits, harmoniously textured concentration and a long, full, persistent finish that simply crashes the senses mainframe and announces something very very special indeed. This certainly is next level seductive Cinsault quality from the old vine master himself. Drink the 2016 now and over the next 10+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Available in the UK from Museum Wines, Handford Wines and Vino SA.
Sometimes, consumer trends are set by the new kids on the block… like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. But when you learn that varieties like Colombard have been planted in the Cape since the early 1700’s, you realise that maybe we should all be taking another look at the potential of some of these latter-day unsung hero varieties. This is exactly what Ian Naude has been doing with a wonderful old vine Colombard vineyard planted in the Vredendal area in 1983.
Grown on soils that are almost 100% sand where flood irrigation is still the order of the day, the grapes were picked into small crates and then whole bunch pressed before undergoing natural fermentation after around three days maceration. Thereafter, the wine was kept on its fine lees for as long as possible to develop extra aromatic and textural complexity before being bottled as naturally as possible.
Picking up the reins of an established variety is one thing, but doing so with a complete outsider grape that has hardly ever been considered good enough for anything other than brandy distillation is another. Yet again, the maverick old vine innovator Ian Naude has struck a rich seam of vinous gold with his mouth-watering Langpad Colomard.
Naude Family Wines Old Vines Langpad Colombard 2021, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.
1.3 g/l RS | 6.1 g/l TA | 3.3 pH
This second vintage of Naude’s old vine Colombard is something very special. Whether it’s all down to vintage quality or Ian’s swift mastering of this new grape in his repertoire I don’t know. The aromatics are positively explosive with rich intense notes of green apple pastille, crunchy white peaches, pear puree, dried herbs, wet hay and a seductive rich seam of cream soda. On the palate, there seems to be even more concentration and flavour intensity than the impressive maiden 2020 with these happy old vines spinning their spellbinding magic and delivering a wine with layer upon layer of enchanting peachy fruit, seductive hints of ripe guava, pear, quince and an underlying basaltic stony minerality that combines with a pronounced maritime salinity and a bright tart freshness. It is perhaps the almost volcanic feel to the minerality that makes many fans suggest that this wine reminds them of an old vine Assyrtiko wine from the Greek island of Santorini. Cool, crystalline and intense, this pristine white leaves little to the imagination and smothers the senses in pure, crystalline West Coast pleasure. Drink now on release or age for 5 to 8+ years.
(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Wines available in the UK from Museum Wines, Handford Wines and Vino SA.
Three of my favourite Chenin Blancs have come from the same producer, Ian Naude. The monolithic Coche-Dury’esque 2013 is still one of the most monumental whites that has ever been produced in South Africa while the 2015 is a slightly more classical rendition of this variety. The 2016 however was another blockbuster vintage effort and has sold incredibly quickly as Ian’s stature in the world of fine wine has continued grow incrementally over the past few years as collectors have started to pay serious attention to all his wines.
The follow-on vintage is the 2020 Chenin Blanc produced from an old vine vineyard in the Swartland planted in 1971 making it the first Chenin Blanc from Ian Naude produced from a single vineyard. The grapes were 100% whole bunch pressed and fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks for roughly 14 days with some temperature control being employed to slow the fermentation and retain more of the volatile aromas. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to old oak barrels for 6 months ageing on its lees with bâtonnage employed for the first three months.
Naudé Family Wines Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Swartland, 12% Abv.
1.1 g/l RS | 6.1 TA | 3.3 pH | 0.4 VA
I approached this new wine with a little trepidation as I know all too well from previous experience that Ian Naude’s wines always need a few years in bottle to settle in and really start to fan their peacock tail. Happily, this 2020 is already very impressive with wonderfully complex aromatics of crystallised pineapple chunks, bruised yellow orchard fruit, tangerine peal, white peach, wet thatch and sweet & sour notes of passion fruit liquor. The palate shows lovely vibrancy and energy all wrapped up tightly in a fine, harmonious glycerol depth of fruit concentration that seems slightly more exotic than previous vintages with seductive notes of lemon cordial, pineapples in syrup, tart white peaches and pithy green apple candy. Like all Ian’s delightful creations, this wine retains an incredible crystalline purity, tangy fresh acids, nervy textural linearity and a granitic liquid minerality that washes over the palate to counter-balance the fruit intensity. This is signature Naudé Chenin Blanc but with a wonderful hint of Swartland wild child vintage character thrown into the mix. Drink from 2022 to 2040+.
I first reviewed this wine back in December 2020. But with its release in the UK market imminent, I thought I would have another look at what must surely rank as one of the top Grenache reds produced in South Africa. Despite over 30+ producers producing in excess of 100 Grenache-based wines – mostly blended – from the 350 hectares of Grenache planted in South Africa, it still ranks as somewhat of a curiosity variety compared to industry stalwarts like Syrah or Cinsault.
But there is no doubt about the quality heights this grape is capable of in regions like the Swartland. If Grenache is a variety that gets you excited, look no further than the new Naude 2019.
Naude Family Wines Grenache 2019, WO Swartland, 12% Abv.
RS 1.2 g/L | TA 6.1 g/L | pH 3.2 g/L
While this may only be Ian Naude’s second Grenache attempt from this special Swartland vineyard, he certainly seems to have done the fruit justice creating a wonderfully expressive red. A light translucent cherry red colour, the aromatics are jam packed with crunchy red berry fruits, rose petals, musk, lavender, dried baking herbs and enticing savoury Chinese five spice nuances. The clarity and purity of fruit on the nose translates into an incredibly precise, focused invigorating palate with mouth-watering juicy fresh acids, crystalised red cherries, tart red cranberry and a long, linear finish that reveals a fine stony minerality. Lovely wound spring tension lends a serious note to the wine ensuring that this fabulous 2019 will be as equally long lived as its maiden predecessor, the 2014. However, this wine definitely has more Naude signature elegance, freshness, linearity and precision than the 2014 had at the same youthful stage. The five-year wait has certainly been worthwhile! This is a triumph of skilful winemaking utilising outstanding fruit. Bravo Ian! Drink now and over the next 10 to 15+ years.
So much has been written about the super iconic Naude Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2013 recently that it reminded me that at the time of the release of the 2016, Ian Naude had commented to me that he thought this vintage might be the closest expression he had come stylistically to the resplendent heights of the 2013. At the time of tasting a pre-release sample of 2016 in November 2017, I had my doubts.
But recently I was contacted by a large private South African fine wine buyer who asked me if I had tasted the 2016 recently. Shockingly I admitted that I had not. The real question centred around whether or not they should track down the last of the 2015 vintage or buy the current release 2016 on the market. So with a cold bottle in the fridge from a new shipment that recently arrived from South Africa in December, I cracked a bottle and dived in.
Made from three vineyards, two from Durbanville and one from the Swartland, the vines were at the time, on average 40 years old. Picked on taste and flavour ripeness and not analysis ripeness as is usual for Ian, the juice was naturally fermented with no additions after the fruit was crushed in whole bunches and then transferred directly into used 300 and 500 litre French oak barrels. The wines were then left as long as possible on their lees with bâtonnage generally once a week.
As with all Naude Old Vine Series wines, the essence of Ian’s style is to allow the high quality fruit to express itself as naturally as possible and allow it to tell its own authentic story. In 2016, South Africa was experiencing its second consecutive year of severe drought and many of The Cape’s vines had not quite had the time to reacclimatise to the water shortage. But beyond all reasoning and science, the hardy Chenin Blanc Old Vine vineyards across the Western Cape produced some of the most concentrated and expressive wines seen in years. Critical scores from the world’s leading wine critics abound highlighting the exceptional opulence, intensity and balance of the 2016 Chenin Blancs.
Naude Family Wines Old Vine Series Chenin Blanc 2016, 12.5% Abv., WO Western Cape
When first tasted in 2017, I described the 2016 wine as ‘embryonic’ and ‘more similar to the 2015 Chenin Blanc’ at the time. Revisiting this delicious Old Vine white, reveals the passing of time has clearly marked this wine and improved it immeasurably. The aromatics retain their austere crushed granite and gravel dust minerality but are now joined by tantalisingly rich notes of waxy green apples, under ripe quince, dried straw, summer fynbos and subtle notes of dried thyme. But it’s on the palate where the greatest differences can be observed with a fuller, more textural mouthfeel infused with reductive notes of struck flint, crunchy pears, tart white peaches and signature notes of citrus oil and pithy tangerine peel zest on the finish. The palate retains an incredible freshness, vibrancy and detailed line of acidity but seems to have gained additional flamboyant breadth and depth. While impressively youthful still, this beautiful expression gives discerning customers a rare chance to buy and experience a grand vin old vine Chenin Blanc with some developing bottles age at current release pricing. Definitely start drinking these beauties now but while not quite as monolithic as the legendary 2013 Chenin, this wine shows abundant staying power and age ability. Drink now to 2038+.
It all started a few years ago when Roland Peens of Cape Town wine merchant Wine Cellar held a blind Grenache Taste-Off with some of the most famous expressions from around the world. In an astonishing result, the Naude Family Wines Grenache 2014 trumped the competition coming out top against examples that included several wines from French icon producer Chateau Rayas. This was a result that would go a long way in establishing the cult status of the maiden Naude 2014 Grenache.
After only one vintage, Ian unfortunately lost the contract to the fruit from this vineyard and with the maiden Naude Grenache 2014 red riding high in the market, no further releases were forthcoming… that is until 2019, when Ian managed to once again agree access to the fruit from this vineyard that was now nearing 24 years old. With a December 2020 release of this new wine scheduled by Ian Naude, myself together with two of the original judges from the Judgement of Chiswick decided it was time to put the new 2019 vintage to the test against some of the most sturdy international Grenache competition available.
In the past few years since the original tastings, the extraordinary Grenache wines from the Sierra de Gredos situated west of Madrid have seduced the world’s top wine critics with their precision, perfume, old vine structure and purity. Spain in general has seen a notable Grenache wine revolution unfold to include high altitude, old vine expressions from Rioja, Navarra, Priorat and Madrid. The blind line up this year would include some spectacular examples including the 100 RP Comando G Rumbo al Norte 2018, the 100 RP Les Manyes 2016 from Terrior Al Limit and also a 98 RP Les Amis 2015 Grenache from Australia’s Torbreck estate in the Barossa. Of course no line up would be complete without the original Naude Grenache 2014 as well as a young vine expression Ian Naude made in 2017 as an entry level offering primarily for the UK market, under the A Naude Wine label.
Below are my own notes and scores on the wines tasted blind:
1 – Bernabeleva Garnacha de Vina Bonita 2016, DO Vinos de Madrid, 14% Abv.
Intense aromatics of liquid minerality, crushed granite with notes of dried herbs and sappy oak spice with an underlay of supporting vermouth botanical herbs. Palate is cool and precise, layered with chalky tannins, some chewy grip and a wild herb, red candied cherry and wet river stone finish. 92+/100 GSMW
2 – Naude Family Wines A Naudé Grenache 2017, WO Western Cape, 13.5% Abv.
Deep rich and broody with bold dark fruited berry aromatics, graphite, pithy red plum and botanical spices. The palate is crystalline and pure, vibrant and lifted with bright juicy acids, creamy caramelised cranberry and red cherry and a cool, harmonious finish. Dense ripe tannins but seamless. Each sip beckons another. 95-96/100 GSMW
3 – Terroir Al Limit Les Manyes 2016, DOC Priorat, 14% Abv.
A little more complexity and evolution on the nose with hints of bramble berry, sweet kirsch liquor, sweet tobacco, wet tannery leather and wild stewed black plums. Fabulously seamless snd fleshy, there is incredible harmony and balance, depth and breadth on the palate. The finish focused and intense with subtle sweet red currant, graphite, brambly spice and fine powdery dusty tannins. Classy. 96+/100 GSMW
4 – 4 Monos Cien Lanzas Cenicientos 2016, Vino de Pueblo, Sierra de Gredos, 14.5% Abv.
This wine has pretty aromatics with showy sweet red berry fruits, stewed red cherries and red plum confit. Generous, fleshy and suave this has a wonderful harmonious texture, glycerol weight and a spicy, sappy bramble berry finish. Not quite the extreme complexity of the other wines but absolutely delicious. 93/100 GSMW
5 – Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat 2017, WO Piekenierskloof, 13.5% Abv.
Another deep and complex nose with broody bramble berry fruit, sappy spice, rose water and subtle botanical herbal spice. Full, round and expressive, it shows intensity and richness without sweetness or showy extravagance. Lovely weight and balance, this is another classy Grenache. 94/100 GSMW
6 – Comando G Viticultores Vino de Parcela Rumbo al Norte 2018, Villanueva de Avila, Valle de Alto Albereche, Sierra de Gredos, 14% Abv.
This red shows exotic spicy lift with subtle reductive hints of graphite, tar, black cherry, pink musk, green olive and smoky, spicy dried lavender. Palate shows lovely weight and depth, a glycerol opulent weight, smoky spicy fruits, powder tannin and a waxy liquid mineral finish. Intense, focused expression. 95-96/100 GSMW
7 – Naude Family Wines Grenache 2014, WO Western Cape, 14% Abv.
Big expressive aromatic profile with sweet cherry kirsch liquor, sweet vermouth herbs, spicy red plums and caramelised red berries. There is an oak influence but more than adequately balanced by a sweet red fruit intensity, vermouth sweetness, dried mint leaf, bramble berry herbal notes and then a more purer fruit expression emerging on the finish. 97/100 GSMW
8 – Aseginolaza & Leunda Camino de Otsaka 2018, Vino de la Tierra, 14.5% Abv.
Lovely lush dark berry fruited nose with lactic red & black berry complexity, milk chocolate and a Logan berry complexity. Perhaps a subtle lick of oak mingling with creamy cherry kirsch liquor, bright tangy acids and a finish that seems perfectly endless. Massive intensity, concentration and finesse tied together with delicious acids. This is just lovely if not a little more extrovert and opulent than the others. 94/100
9 – Naude Family Wines Grenache 2019, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.
This shows a fascinating aromatic profile of crystalline red berry fruits, pure cranberry boiled sweets, hints of saline creme de cassis and tart red cherry coulis. Fabulous freshness, purity and linearity follows to the palate that shows well judged reductive spicy graphite hints, chalky stony tannins and a liquid mineral finish with a polished, accessible structure. Lighter touch style with elegance and finesse chosen over horsepower. 94+/100
10 – Torbreck Les Amis Grenache 2015, Barossa Valley, 15.5% Abv.
A big, full opulent expression with deep broody black berry fruit notes, sweet caramelised red plums, sweet kirsch liquor and a slightly brûléed edge. The palate follows the nose with slightly brûléed, caramelised notes, with hints of coffee bean, vanilla spice and creamy oak. Slightly obvious but fabulously punchy. 95+/100
The Judges’ Individual Blind Results:
Judge 1 (BvB)
1 – No 7
2 – No 6
3 – No 2
Judge 2 (RPot)
1 – No 6
2 – No 3
3 – No 2
1 – No 7
2 – No 5
3 – No 2
Judge 4 (GSMW)
1 – No 7 97
2 – No 3 96+
3 – No 2 95-96
4 – No 6 95-96
5 – No 10 95+
6 – No 9 94+
7 – No 5 94
8 – No 8 94
9 – No 4 93
10 – No 1 92+
Overall Group Results:
1st Place Wine – Naude Family Wines Grenache 2014 (No.7)
2nd Place Wine – Terroir Al Limit Les Manyes 2016 (No.3)
3rd Place Wine – A Naude Wine Grenache 2017 (No.2)
When the grand reveal was made at the end of the tasting after the scores were collated, all judges were surprised how well the Naude Grenache 2014 performed yet again, however, it was the almost unanimous third place for Ian’s ‘baby Grenache’ from 2017 that really blew everyone’s mind. Nobody expected this wine to feature in the top half of the ratings due to the formidable brands tasted alongside it. But this wine was of course rated 94 points in Decanter Magazine last year and also received a very solid 92 points from the world’s most famous reviewer, Neal Martin, writing in his 2019 South Africa Report for Vinous.com – His note for this wine was…
“The 2017 Grenache, from young Wellington vines with 80% whole bunches, is more reticent on the nose than the Cinsault 2017, offering dark berry fruits, fynbos and light rose petal scents. It needs a little more coaxing than I expected. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins that frame the maraschino cherry and strawberry fruit. There is moderate depth and a fleshy, sous-bois-tinged finish. Very fine.” 92/100 Neal Martin, Vinous
As for the new Naude Family Wines Grenache 2019, for such a young wine, it performed exceptionally well, lining up just behind some of the highest rated Grenaches in the world. With only a half point difference between my blind rating (94+) and my sighted review (95), I think this wine will equal and probably surpass the heights achieved by the 2014 as I truly believe that the 2019 is a more focused and accomplished wine. It has just been commercially released in South Africa, so do order some for your cellar!
This was a fabulously fun event to take part in and a special word of thanks should go to Barry van Bergen for hosting the tasting in Wimbledon and to Riaan Potgieter for helping to put together a seductive range of wines. Congratulations Ian and Merry Christmas!!
This is a journey that all started in 2014 with one experimental tank of Grenache from a special 18 year old vineyard parcel in the Agter Paardeberg, that Rosa Kruger had identified for Ian Naude. I just happened to be visiting Ian to taste his new Chenin Blanc and Cinsault vintages in barrel when I noticed this large stainless steel tank fermenting away in the corner of Ian’s cellar. When I enquired what it was and whether I could taste it, Ian suddenly appeared rather nervous and seemed quite reluctant. In the end, I did taste this magical wine that finally blossomed into one of the finest Grenache single varietal wines ever produced in South Africa.
But don’t take my word for it. There have been at least three large blind tastings carried out that I know of where the Naude Family Wines Grenache 2014 trumped the competition, coming out top against some of the finest Grenache examples from not only South Africa but also France and Spain, including twice beating the legendary Chateau Rayas in a blind line up. So the credentials of this vineyard as well as Ian’s winemaking prowess cannot be doubted. But not all stories have a happy ending. After only one vintage, Ian unfortunately lost the contract to the fruit from this vineyard, and with the maiden Naude Grenache 2014 red riding high in the market, no further releases were forthcoming… that is until 2019, when Ian managed to once again agree access to the fruit from this vineyard that was now nearing 24 years old.
In 2019, the Grenache crop was unfortunately one of the smallest ever due to the ongoing effects of a four year drought. Severe weather fluctuations during bud break and flowering also contributed to an already challenging season. There were some small positives however, with the small crop yielding exceptional fruit quality. Ian points out that the winter preceding the 2019 harvest received a high, drought busting rainfall allowing the vineyards and soils to start their long road to recovery after almost half a decade of drought conditions.
With healthy fruit beckoning, Ian consciously wanted to produce a red that moved away from the jammy, heavy, earthy ‘barnyard’ style that Grenache wines so easily orientate towards. After many visits to the vineyard and picking at a ripeness that would make a lighter, more elegant style of Grenache, the grapes were naturally fermented with minimal intervention. A combination of whole bunch, destemmed grapes and stalks where utilised during a natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks. After one or two soft pump-overs per day, the wine was left to settle for two weeks before being pressed and transferred into older 225 litre small French oak barrels where the wine was aged for 12 to 15 months.
Due for general release in mid-December 2020, this wine will almost certainly find an instant fine wine audience not just from those Grenache lovers that were lucky enough to savour Ian’s legendary 2014 release, but also from new consumers who have subsequently got to know Ian through his exceptional Chenin Blanc and white blends as well as his highly lauded Old Vine Cinsaults from Darling. This is yet another tantalising new release from a winemaker that is currently reaching new heights of fame and popularity both at home in South Africa but also internationally.
Naudé Family Wines Grenache 2019, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.
RS 1.2 g/L | TA 6.1 g/L | pH 3.2 g/L
There are many wonderful styles of Grenache around but one thing you can be assured of is the “Naude style” will always offer plentiful notes of perfume and fragrance, tart bright lively acids, red earthy fruits, pinpoint precision and above all, pronounced purity. This 2019 is vibrantly youthful allowing the aromatics to sing in unison with complex notes of violets and rose petals, bright red berry fruits and subtle notes of ruby grapefruit and red bramble berry spice. Cool, crystalline and wonderfully pure, the palate is steely and classically focused with a tart tangy acidity, zesty hints of blood orange citrus, cranberry and red plums and a backing mineral undertone of stony grey slate and fine grained gravelly tannins. Comparisons with Ian’s iconic 2014 Grenache expression will be inevitable but in many ways, the 2019 release is more polished, fine boned, focused and self-assured with more of the signature Naudé purity, tautness and light touch intensity in evidence. Once again, this impressive new release ranks amongst the finest single varietal Grenache reds produced in the Cape. Drink on release or age for 10-15+ years.