Prodigious Stellenbosch Red Wine Producer Stark-Conde Release Another Block Buster White – Part 2: Tasting the 2021 Field Blend…

This deliciously complex white is a barrel-fermented blend of 54% Roussanne, 30% Chenin Blanc, 9% Verdelho and 7% Viognier. All sourced from a single vineyard at the entrance of the Stark-Conde Oude Nektar farm, it is planted to a mix of varietals in order to match the complex mosaic of soil types found on this unique plot of land. The grapes are all picked at the same time, pressed and co-fermented together as a genuine field blend.

Stark-Conde Field Blend 2021, WO Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch, 13% Abv.

Very Southern Rhone in its varietal mix, but decidedly Mediterranean on the nose with lifted aromatics of wild garlic leaf, white blossom, sweet green herbs, bruised apple and subtle waxy incense notes over a dusty, stony granitic minerality. The barrel fermentation lends additional savoury, honied notes of lemon biscuits, warm white toast and peach stone fruits. On the palate there is a fabulous vibrancy and tangy acid freshness of crunchy yellow orchard fruits, white peach, ripe tangerines and a long, slightly pithy, phenolic finish of tart green pears and wet river pebble minerality. The richness and textural generosity of the of the Roussanne and Viognier is beautifully managed, enlivened by the salinity and freshness of the Chenin Blanc and Verdelho. Field blends seem to be the new trend setters for white wines in the Cape and I have not tasted many better than this yet. Another super exciting Cape white blend that expresses its own sense of place. Drink this on release and over the next 6 to 8+ years.

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

The Crystalline Brilliance of John Seccombe – Tasting the Exceptional Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2018 White Blend…

I have been following the outstanding work of John Seccombe from the very beginning of his Thorne & Daughters label which was started in 2012 by John and wife Tasha with the aim to produce authentic wines in the beautiful Western Cape. John works with grapes from all over the Cape peninsula and seems to have honed a particularly refined aesthetic when it comes to his winemaking. His Thorne and Daughters family concern is truly pushing the boundaries with old vines and simple, natural winemaking techniques.

Sometimes other producer’s wines have been more highly lauded or more vocally praised but this certainly has nothing to do with the quality of John’s wines. Indeed, John must be one of the most modest, humble and intelligent winemakers plying his trade in the Cape… silently and brilliantly. John’s 2018 Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse Cape white blend incorporates several old vine heritage vineyards that looks more to Burgundy rather than the Rhône for its stylistic compass.

With the release of John’s 2019 Rocking Horse hitting the airwaves at the moment, I thought it would be the perfect time to retaste the impressive 2018 blend, a wine that got a lot of wine trade tongues wagging at the New Wave 2019 tasting in London last year. As the current release and the wine most widely available, the 2018 is certainly worth further examination.

Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2018 wWhite Blend, WO Western Cape, 13.2 Abv.

The 2018 is an exotic Mediterranean blend of 25% Roussanne, 22% Semillon, 19% Chardonnay, 18% Clairette Blanche and 16% Chenin Blanc. A rich straw yellow colour, the aromatics are complex and expressive brimming with notes of leesy lemon biscuits, white citrus, dried baking herbs, fynbos and thatch and dried tangerine peel. On the palate, the textural intricacy is notable as you would expect from a wine with 25% Roussanne in the blend, which lends extra dimensions of fleshy white stone fruit and marzipan depth. Naturally fermented in old oak, the 2018 shows the classical crystalline purity of the vintage framed by a tart lemon lime acidity and a stony, liquid mineral granitic complexity. Beautifully sensual and pristinely balance, every mouthful stimulates the senses and gives the drinker additional flavours to contemplate… crisp white peaches, crunchy green pears, granny smith apples, bay leaf herbal notes  and yet more green mango and saline twang on the long exhilarating finish. Impressively intense and taut for the vintage, this must be one of the most drop dead gorgeous white blends produced in the Cape at the moment. Drink now or age for 10+ years.

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

Thorne & Daughters wines are distributed in the UK by Liberty Wines.