A New Benchmark Cap Classique from Colmant Reviewed…

Ever since bubble wizard Paul Gerber moved over from Le Lude to Colmant, everyone knew there would be fizzy fireworks to follow with some exceptional Method Cap Classique wines planned. While the standard estate Blue Label Colmant MCC remains one of my go to sparkling wines along with Graham Beck’s Blanc de Blancs, the release of the new Colmant Absolut has certainly raised some eyebrows.

The Absolu Zero Dosage NV is made from 100% Chardonnay fruit coming from Franschhoek (65%) and Robertson (35%). A portion of the base wine (15%) is fermented in French oak barrels while a further 15% of reserve wine from previous vintages is also blended in. These techniques certainly contribute to the complexity and elegance of the finished product – as does the extended time on lees, 85 months minimum – or seven years in layman’s terms.

Colmant Absolu Cap Classique Zero Dosage NV, WO Western Cape, 12% Abv.

This is a fascinating wine with all the complexity, richness and texture you’d expect from a wine aged for a phenomenal 85 months on its lees. The nose has a wonderful briney, saline lemon brioche character supported by creamy, savoury freshly baked croissants nuances together with a dusty, leesy nutty character. The palate is wonderfully detailed, fresh and pin point with a lively creamy mousse, plenty of maritime saline zip and a lovely long, lingering toasty, leesy, broche finish with a kiss of lemon pastille. This is pure class as it takes very skilful winemaking to make a MCC base wine that can age and improve over 85 months and still show incredible energy, opulence, verve and vigour when bottled. Drink now and over the next 3 to 5+ years.

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

Recommended Retail Price £45-£49 per bottle.

Tasting the New Release Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2019…

Equilibrium, harmony, finesse and elegance characterise the great Vintage Ports of Noval, which are declared only when they are certain that the year has produced a blend, however small, that is worthy of bearing the name of Quinta do Noval Vintage Port.

Noval always follows its own path in its approach to declaring Vintage Ports. If they believe that they have the wines of the right quality and personality to join the ranks of the Quinta do Noval Vintage Ports of previous years, they will bottle it and declare it, even if this means declaring several years in a row, and even if it means, as is often the case, bottling only a few hundred cases of Quinta do Noval Vintage Port, representing a tiny percentage of the total production of the Quinta. In the case of 2019, the selection of 2,780 cases represents just 14% of their production.

2019 was marked by a mild winter and generally dry conditions, with almost no rain from May to the end of August. While in many parts of Europe producers faced heat waves, and although the Douro Valley enjoyed prolonged sunny weather, summer temperatures were fortunately lower than usual this year, making the absence of rain easier to bear for the vines. Moreover, low humidity led to low disease pressure in the vineyards and beautifully healthy grapes. Harvest started on September 9th for the red varieties. Harvesting conditions were ideal, with moderate temperatures and overall dry weather. A small amount of helpful rain fell on September 21st-22nd and later between October 14th and 17th. Yields were slightly higher than their 10-year average and musts showed great natural acidity and freshness.

Quinta do Noval 2019 Vintage Port, 19.5% Abv.

100 g/l RS | 5.55 TA | 3.63 pH

Made from a fine selection of grapes including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinto Cão, Sousão and Tinta Roriz sourced from 145 hectares over three large areas of vineyards allowed for a lot of flexibility at blending time, with the 2019 representing 13 different parcels that all add a unique character to the finished wine. Elegance and balance are the hallmarks and are all present in the 2019 in abundance. In many ways, the 2019 resembles the 2018 on steroids with just more profundity. Immediately attractive, deliciously forward and fresh, there is great finesse and balance in evidence with a silky, creamy texture and a youthful approachability. Gone are the old school grippy tannins of years gone by that used to be found on most young vintage Ports. Indeed the 2019 shows no less tannins and structure, just much more precision, purity, freshness and black fruit focus. (2,780 cases produced)

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

Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2018 – The New Release of This South African Icon Wine Reviewed…

With so many of South Africa’s top Cape Bordeaux Blends and Cabernet Sauvignon producers stepping up to the mark to produce their best wines ever across the 2015 and 2017 vintages, 2018 was always going to be under the spotlight to see if some of the magic of these previous vintages could be applied by winemakers to the benefit of the final wines.

Certainly, the winter rainfall was higher than the previous two winters but with irregular temperatures from winter until the flowering period, together with cool growing conditions, there were inevitably some variations in ripening across the Simonsberg vineyards. However, cooler weather and regular rain showers led to less water stress for the vines during the ripening period.

Having tasted most of the top 2018 Cape Bordeaux blends now, the signature style and characteristics of the vintage are becoming clearer and clearer – Very cool, precise wines with impressively glassy acid frames, silky powdery tannins, impressive fruit intensity but without the 2015’s inky dry extract or the 2017’s weightless fruit concentration. The 2018s are very attractive wines, more classically leaning with a little less exoticism but plenty of the traditional characteristics on the aromatics and palate that have made the wines so popular with French Bordeaux collectors and connoisseurs around the world.

The grapes for the 2018 Paul Sauer were fermented in open top concrete fermenters at 29 deg C with the floating skins being punched down by hand every 2 hours during fermentation. The juice was drawn off the skins after 5 days. After malolactic fermentation the wine was matured for 24 months in 100% new 225 litre French Nevers oak barriques.

With only 7,000 cases or 42,000 bottles produced, stake your marker in the allocation queue nice and early as this iconic wine seems to sell out faster and faster every year. This of course is the reward for a proven pedigree and quality track record.

Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2018, WO Simonsberg – Stellenbosch, 13.91% Abv.

2.4 g/l RS | 6.2 TA | 3.55 pH | 90 mg/l Total SO2 | 0.63 g/l VA

The 2018 Paul Sauer is a classical blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc from vines averaging 30 years of age grown on dryland vineyards of Decomposed Granite and Hutton and Clovelly soils. Vibrant and ruby / purple, the wine almost glows in the glass with inviting promise. At this youthful stage, the Cabernet Sauvignon component shines through strongly revealing a generally dark, broody, black fruited demeanour embellished with subtle notes of saline crème de cassis, star anise, lead pencil shavings, dried violets and signature nuances of freshly tilled earth, buttered brown toast and hints of breakfast espresso. In the mouth, the palate shows gorgeous elegance, purity and fruit focus with the most fine grained filigree tannins, soothingly generous black berry fruits and delicious mouth-watering acids. This wine is precision personified showing such effortless grace and harmony together with a measured power and intensity. The 2018 is certainly a very classically schooled expression that waltzes across the palate without ever putting a foot out of place. Like all truly great Bordeaux blends, this has the finesse and textural harmony to drink on release but also the intensity and gravitas to age effortlessly for 20 to 30+ years.

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

Another Vintage and Another Iconic Cabernet Franc Release – Tasting the New Raats Eden Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018…

No two single wines in South Africa signal a higher quality ambition than the production of the Raats Family Wines’ Eden high density red Cabernet Franc and white Chenin Blanc. Coming from a 0.2ha high density vineyard (8,000 vines per hectare) meticulously planned and planted 9 years ago by Bruwer Raats at his Polkadraai property in Stellenbosch, the grapes were fermented in tank and then aged for 9 months in new French oak followed by a further 9 months elevage in older French oak barrels.

Ever since tasting a barrel sample with Bruwer Raats back Cape Town in February 2020, I have been awaiting this impressive new wine release. It is now quite simply the leading single varietal Cabernet Franc in South Africa and continues to gain an obsessive following among collectors and connoisseurs across the globe.

In reality, the only thing holding back its even faster success and popularity is the impossibly tiny quantity of wine produced. One single barrel or 365 bottles. This is a true unicorn wine offering and certainly a fine wine that should find a happy home in any of the greatest wine cellars around the world.

Raats Family Eden High Density Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018, 13% Abv.

The 2018 vintage yielded another impressive expression of Cabernet Franc and who better than Bruwer Raats to perform his own kind of magic and conjure up another enchanting, seductive rendition of this iconic single vineyard wine. The nose is initially discreet and classical, leaning towards a purer, black and blue berry fruit driven expression with delicate floral notes of violets and rosemary with a youthful backing chorus of fresh brown toast, mocha, sweet tobacco, black currant and sappy cedar notes. Medium bodied but fabulously concentrated and intense, this sleek textured wine shows plenty of power with smooth mineral granitic tannins, mouth watering vitality and simply awesome persistence. This has all the finesse and pedigree you could ever want from a benchmark Cabernet Franc. Give this wine 3 to 5 years to mellow and then enjoy over another 10 to 15+.

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

Niepoort Port Declaration – Tasting the 2019 Vintage Port Pre-Release with Dirk and Daniel Niepoort…

The 2017 Niepoort Vintage Port was one of the fastest selling ports released by the winery… or at least it was until they released the 2019. At the release tasting of the 2019 Niepoort vintage Port, Dirk interestingly also showed us his 2000 Vintage Port because this was probably the vintage where he started to redefine how the Niepoort wines were made, with extra special attention to the little details that certainly make a very big difference to the final finished product.

In 2019, the average rainfall was low in the winter months but throughout the year, to make up for this, the Douro and in the case of Niepoort, the Cima Corgo sub-region, was lucky due to two compensating factors: firstly, the summer months were unseasonably cool and secondly the timely rainfall on the 26th-27th of August was invaluable, allowing fruit to reach complete maturity.

Daniel, Dirk and Nick Delaforce

At Vale de Mendiz, harvesting started on the 2nd of September under fine conditions and the last grapes were received in the first week of October. All years are remembered for different and unique reasons, and 2019 will surely go down as a year with amazing natural, acids, balanced musts and very cool weather, reminiscent of the elegant year of 2008 – all in all perfect conditions in which the Niepoort house style thrives.

All the components for 2019 Vintage Port were trodden by foot in circular granite lagares with 100% of stems. The wines were racked soon aft­er harvest, aged in “tonéis” (large oak vats) in the Douro over the winter, and then moved to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia in the Spring of 2020. The average vine age is 80 to over 100 years old and the key grape varieties used in the blend were Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz as well as a few others. At the time of tasting samples, the winery was already sold out of the 2019, so consumers will have to hunt down allocations in their individual markets from Niepoort’s importers.

Niepoort Vintage Port 2019 (Proposed Blend)

This lovely signature Niepoort 2019 vintage Port apparently has higher tannins than the famed 2017, but at this youthful stage, it is hard to comprehend this with its rich, accessible, voluptuous layers of silky, juicy soft black fruits. Benchmark certainly, a notable success – absolutely. The aromatics are so much more important than the palate flavours at this early blending phase (according to Dirk) and this enticing 2019 shows attractive notes of sweet sun ripened black berry fruits, hints of creamy molasses, savoury black stewed winter orchard fruits and a dusty, stony, smoked cigars complexity. Beautifully silky, supple and textured, there is also a fine, stony, grippy mineral tannin mouthfeel that lends a wonderful frame for the juicy blue and black berry fruit finery to be displayed. Fabulously drinkable, deliciously fresh and vibrant, but eminently bold and characterful, this is certainly another very accomplished wine from the House of Niepoort. (Residual Sugar: 88 g/l RS)

(Wine Safari Score: 97-99/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

A Decade on From the Iconic 2008 Vintage, Bruwer Raats Releases the Impressive MR de Compostella 2018…

It seems quite fortuitous that the very week Bruwer Raats and Mzokhona Mvemve choose to release their new vintage of MR de Compostella 2018, the most famous and influential wine reviewer in the world, Neal Martin chose their MR de Compostella 2008 as his Vinous Cellar Selection and scored it 96/100, matching the original rating he gave this iconic wine exactly 10 years ago.

I was of course lucky enough to host Bruwer Raats in London in October 2019 when we tasted through the first ever complete vertical of MR vintages from the maiden 2004 until the 2017. Then, when I managed to visit Bruwer at the winery in Feb 2020, long before the pandemic struck, he was already talking about another exceptional vintage that was different to many of the others but was perhaps one that clearly reminded him of the famed 2008 vintage. As it turned out, the 2018 ended up spending approximately 27 months in barrel compared to the usual 22 to 24 months for an MR de Compostella, creating another similarity with the famed 2008 vintage.

Whether this extended ageing enhanced the 2008 or whether it was just an exceptional vintage to start with, what I do see are the clear similarities between the 2018 and the 2008 vintages. This is sure to be a very stable, slow burning vintage and undoubtedly, a release you are going to want to have in your cellar.

MR de Compostella 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14.5% Abv.

The 2018 MR de Compostella is a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in colour, one sniff of the bouquet reveals another truly towering effort with incredible perfume lift, a complex melange of red and black berry fruits and the most fabulously integrated oaking imaginable. The nose is loaded with black cherry kirsch liquor, black truffle, crushed violets, crème de cassis, mulberries, graphite and freshly tilled earth nuances. Despite an extensive elevage in French oak barriques, the sweet cedary wood spice and vanilla pod notes play very much a subtle supporting role allowing the bold multi-dimensional fruit intensity to take centre stage. While only medium-bodied, the palate is super sleek, laser focused and intense, washing over the senses in energetic waves of saline cassis, black cherries, black plum and baked blueberries. This is classical winemaking at its very best where a harmonious freshness combines with beautifully silky poised tannins to deliver a wine with not only overt mouth-watering appeal but also plenty of latent structural depth. Undoubtedly another individually monumental wine that displays the brilliance of the special Mvemve-Raats winemaking partnership clearly for all to see. Old School and New World all at the same time, this is a wine that will appeal to the classicists as much as to the New World connoisseurs. Drink it on release or bury it in your cellar for 25+ years for further rewards.

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

Klein Constantia Estate – Mastering Site-Specific Sauvignon Blanc in the Cape…

The Klein Constantia emphasis has recently been re-engineered and re-imagined with a renewed emphasis on the exceptional Sauvignon Blanc terroirs of this ancient Constantia estate. With the Vin de Constance sweet wine project reaching new heights of quality annually together with the accompanying international critical praise, this has allowed the powers at Klein Constantia to dedicate more thought and resources to the future potential of Sauvignon Blanc as well as the red wines at Anwilka in Stellenbosch.

Chatting to head winemaker Matt Day recently, he explained that he has learnt a lot from the single vineyard block wines over the past few years as well as from the Metis joint-venture project with Pouilly Fume producer Pascal Jolivet, inspiring him and his team to refocus and refine the knowledge and knowhow acquired over the past years and channel it into the estate’s white Sauvignon Blanc wine range. In the past, the single block wines have acted as the research and development lab for the estate and now it is time to put this knowhow to greater commercial use in raising the quality profile of first and foremost, Klein Constantia’s main Sauvignon Blanc Estate wine.

Ahead of World Sauvignon Blanc Day celebrated from the 7th to the 9th of May, I tasted through Klein Constantia’s exciting new releases and was simply bowled over by the world class quality.

Klein Constantia Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.8% Abv. | 3.3pH | TA 5.8 | RS 1.8

Up to 36 different blocks from vines grown on Granite and Sandstone soils are used in this impressive Sauvignon Blanc blend with around 80% of grapes fermented using wild fermentation to produce on average 120,000 bottles. No sulphur is used at crushing and fermentation temperatures start at 14 to 15 deg C before being cooled down to 12 deg C, before finally being raised at the end of fermentation back up to 15 deg C to finish off.

An attractive, complex Sauvignon Blanc that thrives on expressing a blend of the cool climate Klein Constantia sites that show a delicious melange of bitter / savoury / umami and saline characters. With the Sandstone soil sites offering richer and rounder flavours and the granitic soils tauter, more mineral, pithy white citrus characters, this vintage reveals a wonderfully rich textured and expressive palate that is loaded white citrus, yellow grapefruit, gooseberry, mango peel, apple puree, freshly cut grass and quince preserve. Fabulously constructed with delicious mid-palate balance, notable concentration and a long alluring finish. This is a fantastic vintage for Sauvignon Blanc, Klein Constantia and lovers of intricate Sauvignon Blanc.

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

Klein Constantia Metis Sauvignon Blanc 2018, WO Constantia

14% Abv | 3.26 pH |6.5 TA | 2.2 RS

Metis is a wine that grew out of a historic collaboration with Loire producer Pascal Jolivet and pushes Constantia Sauvignon to the limits in an attempt to emulate a more Sancerre style of winemaking with oxidative must handling, 100% wild ferment used and 20% neutral oak fermentation and then ageing, with the resulting wine left for 9 months in barrel before being racked to stainless steel tanks, back blended and aged in tank for a further three months.

2018 was a hot early drought vintage and despite Constantia suffering less vintage variation than hotter inland areas due to the tempering effect of the ocean, the Metis is still boasts a bold 14% alcohol yet remains incredibly cool, classical and mineral with a pronounced stony, grey slate character. The style of winemaking tries to accentuate the philosophical Old World roots of Metis and boasts vineyards with altitude and that are rich in granitic soils. The character of the wine reveals layers of limestone, savoury lime peel, citrus, salinity and yellow grapefruit notes and finishes with a long tangy, peppery, concentrated flinty intensity. Fabulous balance, mouth watering acidity and an overall feeling of liquid minerality. An impressively different expression.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.8% Abv | 3.08 pH | 7.0 TA | 2.2 RS

The first single vineyard wine produced since 2005. Pungent, bold, expressive and made in a punchy style that’s made to assault the senses with its intensity. Fermation was begun in stainless steel and 100% barrel finished for the final 2/3rds of fermention. There is nothing shy about this wine and in 2020, it is loaded with even more intensity and Sauvignon Blanc fire power. The aromatics burst with black currant leaf, orange citrus, umani savoury notes, rich tangerine peel, flinty spice, fresh naartjies and quince with subtle cut grass and root fennel savoury nuances that will almost certainly acquire rudimentary notes of cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush with further bottle development. Full bodied and precise while never erring on the side of heavy, this wine will drink wonderfully in its youth due to its mouth-watering acidity and intense fruit concentration.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Klein Constantia Clara Sauvignon Blanc 2020, WO Constantia

13.38% Abv | 3.16 pH | 6.8 TA | 2.4 RS

Normally a blend of predominantly blocks 372, 381, and the 361 organic block as well as oddments of other blocks all aged in 500 litre French oak and acacia barrels, 30% new. After fermentation, the best barrels are selected from the best blocks and the wine is made in a more opulent, punchy style primarily for the US market, with more richness, texture and generally more rounder Bordeaux style white characters. 30% of the fermentation completed in tank before being transferred to barrel with the fine lees to complete fermentation.

Klein Constantia are said to be aiming for a bolder, richer Bordeaux Blanc style with the Clara, displaying pear, pineapple, yellow grapefruit pastille and a riper and rounder texture. The end result is just splendid. There is indeed more richness and lees contact complexity, notes of kiwi fruits, acacia wood and an overall rounding influence of oak without the wine showing any overt oaky characters per se. Rich, intense, plush and textured, this is seriously grown-up Sauvignon Blanc with sensational concentration, intensity and length. I am certainly sold! What a beauty.

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

Klein Constantia Block 382 Sauvignon Blanc 2019, WO Constantia

13.87% Abv | 3.19 pH | 6.8 TA | 2 RS

One of the gems in the Klein Constantia portfolio, these three segmented parcels of the Block 382 are located on almost directly South facing slopes at 320 metres above sea level on grainy granitic soils. Block 382.1 is trellised and Block 382.2 and 382.3 are 100% bush vines. In some vintages, they only use the trellised vines and in others, like 2019, only the bush vines which were fermented and aged for 20 months in 500 litre barrels before bottling.

Matt Day says if he could make just one Sauvignon Blanc every year from the estate, he would want it all to taste like the 2019 Block 382. The wine presents an intricate nose of gun smoke, wet stones, struck flint and savoury, briney maritime notes. The palate is packed full of gooseberry, prickly acids, grassy green pear, green apple bolstered by a fleshy, glycerol mid-palate, tart lime, gooseberry and a rock salt, briney finish. Super complex, very stable from extended ageing, Matt describes this iconic wine as “bullet proof” and one for the long haul. In my experience, it is certainly one of the most profound expressions of Sauvignon Blanc I have tasted from South Africa in many, many years. Track it down if you can!

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

Rising Bordeaux Star Chateau La Croizille Releases Another Impressive Saint Emilion 2018 Red…

La Croizille is a wonderfully situated Saint Emilion Grand Cru Chateau that was acquired by the Belgian De Schepper – De Mour family in 1996 and whose wines are sold mostly in the Benelux. The 5 hectares of vines belonging to the Château benefit from the same remarkable soils, on the borders of the clay-limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion in the commune of Saint-Laurent des Combes, as Chateaux such as Tetre Roteboeuf and Troplong Mondot.

After 1996, the De Schepper family commenced on a large investment spree, bringing the estate into the modern winemaking era, combining its sought after terroir with high-end technology and traditional know-how to create a wine with great opulence, finesse, modernity and personality under the watchful eye of respected head winemaker, Jean-Michel Garcion.

Chateau La Croizille Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2018, 14.5% Abv.

This is an impressive effort that shows just why so many 2018 right bank Bordeaux wines are being fawned over at the moment. It displays a deep purple-black colour and offers up exotic, hedonistic notes of black currant compote, liquorice, caramelised black cherries, creme brûlée and stewed winter plums. On the palate the texture is silky, soft and sensual with an impressive fleshy depth of fruit, smoky graphite mocha notes, pithy plum stone minerality and a long, fresh, well honed finish. The subtle drying grip from the velvety tannins are reminiscent of a well brewed cup of raspberry and black currant herbal tea. It possesses a simply magical harmony and a wonderful balance making this another standout effort from Chateau La Croizille. Drink from 2022 to 2034+

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

http://www.chateaulacroizille.com

Vilafonte Forges Ahead with Another Jaw-Dropping 2018 Series M Fine Wine Release…

I was in the Cape in 2018 around harvest time and again at the Vilafonte winery in February 2020 only days after the Series M 2018 had been bottled. Proprietor Mike Ratcliffe and US partners Phil Freese and Zelma Long, visiting for the 2020 harvest, struggled to contain their excitement over the final 2018 results. After reviewing the superb Series C 2018 in September 2020, I knew all eyes would be on the Series M that Mike described as possibly the best the winery had ever produced. With maturing vineyards, ever greater fine tuning of their precision viticulture techniques as well as winemaker Chris de Vries just getting to know his terroir better and better, further improvements in quality seem an almost certainty.

The 2018 vintage was certainly marked by one of the worst droughts on record and presented some significant challenges for all vine growers and winemakers in the Western Cape. With water resources at an all time low and strict rationing in effect, reduced water availability for irrigation led to reduced vine vigour and canopy sizes. Some unseasonable rains and low temperatures in October and November disrupted fruit set and further reduced the number and size of berries on grape clusters.

In the end, harvest timings were close to normal, beginning on February 2nd and continuing uninterrupted until February 27th. Overall, the vintage saw yields contract by -24% following a very generous crop in 2017 and the fruit was marked by berries being on average -25% smaller in size than normal leading to wines with an intense inky colour, piercing concentration and striking fruit richness.

Vilafonte Series M 2018, WO Paarl, 14.5% Abv.

The 2018 Series M is a blend of 45% Merlot, 41% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 22 months in 24% new French oak barriques with the remainder aged in used French oak barrels. This wine exhibits an alluringly deep dark garnet-purple colour and wilfully offers forth an exhilarating aromatic array of seductive notions of blueberries, boysenberries, black plum and sweet cassis. The purity and detail is very impressive with delicate violet and vanilla pod nuances combining with notes of star anise, warm buttered brown toast smothered with black cherry preserve, freshly baked pastries, hints of mocha and espresso and some subtle background cedar spice complexing oak notes. The palate shows a wonderfully expansive and multi-dimensional flavour explosion together with a carefully measured richness, pinpoint purity and truly show stopping concentration all delivered with subtlety and jaw-dropping finesse. There is boldness and creamy textured fine-grained supporting tannins but first and foremost, there is freshness, supreme balance and sublime harmony. This very well may be one of the finest young Vilafonte reds I have ever tasted on release. Drink now or cellar for 15+ years.

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

The legend Continues – Tasting the New Release Revenge of the Crayfish 2020 Chenin Blanc…

Sakkie Mouton is the epitome of the classic West Coast maverick or perhaps the West Coast misfit to use his own words. But whatever descriptives you use to describe his unique brand of winemaking and marketing, there is no denying this young man’s incredible talent, passion and vision. Almost uniquely, despite his enviable and obvious rock star talents, he has never been too confident or arrogant to dismiss advice or unwilling to alter course in the name of producing the very best possible end product.

With his 2018 maiden release, I likened Sakkie’s unique talents to something I had not seen since Eben Sadie hit the South African wine scene properly in the early 2000s, at first with the Spice Route Winery and then subsequently with his own labels. Perhaps the real similarity lies in both being able to elicit something quite unique and magical from varieties and vineyards that so many before them had managed to produce merely average wines from. Who knows? The industry is lucky to have them both for sure!

“Get your Cray on… “

This new 2020 Crayfish edition was picked in two different passes through the vineyards before being fermented with wild yeast in used 228 litre barrels and aged on the gross lees for eight months. The wine was then bottled unfiltered and unfined with minimal intervention.

Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc 2020, WO Koekenaap, 13.5% Abv.

With two vintages under his belt, Sakkie Mouton must surely have a fairly watertight idea of what he is trying to create with his unique Chenin Blanc fruit sourced from his homeland vineyards of Koekenaap up the West Coast. While super youthful and fresh, this 2020 expression does indeed display an impressive clarity and composure with wonderfully pure aromatics of crunchy green apples, pear drops, bay leaves, dried green baking herbs, lime peel and of course the signature West Coast notes of oyster shell and maritime sea breeze salinity. On the palate, there is notable concentration and depth of zippy white citrus, savoury yellow orchard fruits and a briny rock salt salinity reminiscent of river pebbles washed in sea water. Never a wine to reveal all its secrets willingly, a little more coaxing in a big Zalto glass allows the wine to show hints of orange citrus peel, a lovely fresh tangy sweet / sour acidity and yet more layers of maritime intensity. This new release might not be quite as wild and rebellious as some of Sakkie’s previous releases, but it certainly shows a growing confidence, maturity of thought, and texturally, an intricacy and purity that makes this wine very much one of his most complete creations to date. Give this white one to two years in the cellar from release before opening and then enjoy over 12 to 15+ years. Congratulations Sakkie on another distinguished wine!

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

Wines available in the UK on allocation from Vino SA and Handford Wines.