Reenen Borman and the Patatsfontein Crew Deliver Another Montagu Stunner in 2018…

The low yielding 2018 drought vintage produced a lot of challenges for vintners but more often than not, yielded overall wine quality in bottle that far exceeded wine industry expectations pre-harvest. While the 2018 whites don’t necessarily have the same intensity, piercing concentration and acid frame that the 2017s exhibited, they do processes great flavour subtlety, crystalline purity, fine varietal typicity and an overall harmonious balance. The main vintage downside was that yields for many producers were reduced by between -30% and -60%, and perhaps down to -80% for some old vine dry grown vineyards, representing a mini catastrophe as global demand surged for South Africa’s top producers.

The old vine Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc white, now in its 5th vintage, is produced by winemaker talent Reenen Borman and business partners Henk Kotze and Fritz Schoon under the Ron Burgundy Wines venture and has established a high quality track record that places it among an elite group of top Chenin Blanc wines produced in South Africa.

Henk, Reenen and Fritz… HRF

Patatsfontein Old Vine Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2018, Montagu, 13.5 Abv.

Produced from an old vine single vineyard in Montagu, the 2018 Chenin Blanc represents another great success for the vintage. The aromatics boast mineral laden notes of wet stones, crushed granite, grey slate with dried hay, green pears and tangerine peel. The palate shows a fine harmonious balance with plenty of subtle complexity of pineapple pastille, green apple, crunchy white peach and a pithy stony mineral veneer. It will be interesting to see if the wine moves away from a mineral, lighter weight textural precision towards a more fleshy, glycerol expression after a few years in bottle. Either way, this is a serious top shelf, grown up effort that will have the loyal Chenin collectors scrambling to burying precious bottles in their cellars.

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

The Making of An Icon Wine ~ Tasting Patatsfontein 2016 Chenin Blanc…

I probably discovered this gem a little late in the day to properly appreciate the 2014 maiden vintage of Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc, only getting to drink the odd bottle or two with local South African winemakers. But the cat was out the bag, and I subsequently made sure I received a good chunk of the fabulous 2015, which is reviewed here:


https://gregsherwoodmw.com/2017/01/15/chenin-blanc-south-africas-new-international-calling-card/

The 2015 vintage yielded some fantastic, iconic wines, but during my visit in March 2017, I managed to taste many of the 2016s, and was so impressed with the top expressions from this tricky, drought stricken vintage. Many were picked earlier to retain acidity, but displayed massive concentration due to dramatically lower yields. A thoroughly collectable vintage indeed. 


Patatsfontein Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc 2016, Montagu, 13.5 Abv.

The 2016 was fermented with natural yeasts and aged in a mixture of old oak barrels of various sizes for approximately 10 months. It has a most precise, piercing nose of stoney yellow fruits, bruised yellow peaches, saline briney white citrus, pithy tangerine peel and all the hallmark Patatsfontein aromatics of waxy yellow apples, potpourri and exotic curry leaf incense notes. Very seductive, alluring, confident wine. The palate is even more concentrated and structured than the 2015, no easy feat in itself, proving yet again what great pedigree this wine has. The finish shows great energy, fine purity, and impressive, creamy textural length. It seems young Reenen Borman can do no wrong. Congratulations. Drink now to 2030+.

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


You can’t hold greatness back, and while the Patatsfontein is one of the most sought after Chenin Blanc whites in South Africa, the European market has yet to truly wake up to the exceptional quality of this wine. Sadly, when they do (which they will), we’ll all struggle to get even the current allocations we currently do due to its tiny single vineyard production. But the success will have been well earned and well deserved. 

Another Excellent White from Reenen Borman ~ Tasting the Patatsblanc 2016…

The Patatsfontein Old Vine Chenin Blanc made by Reenen Borman has taken the South African market by storm and is now super collectable, being tightly allocated due to its high quality and small production. I first encountered the 2014 vintage while out on the town in Stellenbosch with Silvervis / Terracura winemaker Ryan Mostert and partner Samantha Suddons. I subsequently managed to secure a tiny 2015 allocation. Boy, what a wine! 


But not everyone knows about the “second wine” Patatsblanc, a superb, well priced Colomard white with around 10% of Chenin Blanc in the blend. I really loved the 2015, which I reviewed on this blog, but the 2016 represents yet another step up in quality.


Patatsblanc N Versnit Wit 2016, Montegu, Western Cape

Taught, dusty aromatics lift out the glass, suggesting impressive depth and intensity. Like the 2015, this is a ultra mineral, super focused, terroir orientated expression. The 2016 feels slightly denser, riper and more expressive than the excellent 2015 expression. This well balanced, intense white is cool and dusty, showing sweet lemon & herbs, yellow grapefruit, powdered gravel minerality, talc and dried cut grass. This wine is just that little bit more fleshy, concentrated and self assured than the 2015. Definitely a wine for people with a sophisticated, old world inclined palate. Worth searching out and buying if you love dry, mineral, slightly reductive whites made in a Chablis’esque style. 

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

Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015 Reviewed ~ Sometimes, Less is Definitely More…

In 2016, so many new micro brands and single vineyard / single site wines were launched in South Africa. I consider myself relatively up to date with all the new offerings visiting South Africa several times a year. But last year, after four visits, even I was running just to keep up at times. Some of these eye catching wines including Andre Bruyn’s City on a Hill Chenin Blanc, Bruwer Raats’ Eden range, and Chris Alheit’s Hemelrand Vine Garden white blend were launched with great acclaim. 


Another one of these wines was the Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015 produced from “superior” pure SH99 clone 100% Whole-bunch fermented Syrah grapes sourced from a vineyard in Stellenbosch. I reviewed many wines from Stellenbosch young gun Reenen Borman, and this red is another one of his collaborative works falling under the Patatsfontein joint project. 


Tasting Note: Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015, 14 Abv. ~ Beautiful vibrant purple red cherry colour. The nose is delicately perfumed with bruised black plums, macerated red cherries, sandalwood, wood spice, dried black and green pepper corns, sweet savoury cured meats and a honeysuckle twist. The palate is medium bodied and elegantly classical, very much in the mould of the Northern Rhone masters like Rene Rostaing, where Syrah takes on the weight, focus and texture of Pinot Noir rather than full blown ripe Rhoney Syrah. There are beautifully fine glassy acids elevating the majestic fine, soft silky tannins. This wine is all about subtlety, finesse and femininity and never tries to shout, but rather talks softly with a voice of confident winemaking. The finish is deceptively long, concentrated and suave. Testament to the philosophy that sometimes less is more. (Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)


Post Script: I opened this bottled, allowed it to breath (in bottle) for 20-30 mins, tasted and wrote my notes. Initially I was around the 93-93+ score mark, but after enjoying this wine subsequently with beautiful organic Welsh lamb chops, I upped my score to 94. Wines cannot just be enjoyed in some kind of clinical isolation. They are part of our daily lives, and primarily made to be enjoyed with food. So I’m going stick with my latter rating of this elegant, classical, food friendly wine.

Armstrong’s of Richmond’s finest lamb chops…