The Swartland is a beautiful and wild spot off the beaten track. The landscape is a series of dry rolling hills with a few significant outcrops of rock that form the Paardeberg, Kasteelberg and Piketberg mountains. This is also the region winemakers Chris and Andrea Mullineux chose to make their home.
This is my first visit to Roundstone, the original farm from where Chris and Andrea started buying the famous fruit for their iconic Schist Syrah in 2007. This fruit has now also become a key component of their award winning “signature range” Mullineux Syrah. Roundstone’s own vineyards now represent around 30% of their Syrah production.
On a clear bright day like today, you can see all the way to Table Mountain, around one and a half hours away heading south down the N7.
Chris and Andrea finally acquired the property in 2014 and, together with their viticulturist Rosa Kruger and farm manager Jeandre, started an exciting planting program that will run until 2018.
They will be planting more Syrah, and also Chenin blanc, Grenache (noir and blanc), Cinsault, Clairette Blanche, Carignan, Semillon Gris, Roussanne, Maccabeu, and some more esoteric varieties.
I look forward to tasting their new Leeu Passant wines tomorrow. Very exciting. Now it’s time for a cold glass of Chenin!
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.
Jamet is a name synonymous with Cote Rotie. Many Rhone collectors and connoisseurs have treasured bottles from the brothers Jean-Luc and Jean-Paul Jamet in their cellars.
Meeting with wine suppliers last year, heads hung heavily with the news that Domaine Jamet had announced a change in the direction of the estate with the brothers going their own separate ways in Cote Rotie. Jean-Luc Jamet would be creating his own domaine using fruit from the families vines in the Lancement lieux-dit. Jean-Paul Jamet would be remaining with the property and would, with wife Corinne, continue making the “Domaine” wines from 7 hectares of vines comprising 17 lieux-dits in 25 parcels scattered all over Cote Rotie.
The 2012 and 2013 Cote Brune wines were already labeled Domaine de Jean-Paul & Corinne Jamet Cote Rotie Cote Brune, taking this portion of the estate into a new era.
Jean-Luc Jamet had by now, created his own wines with my own personal experiences starting with his 2013 Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc and his 2014 Cotes-du-Rhone Red. As yet, I have not tasted any Jean-Luc Jamet Cote Rotie reds.
Tasting Note: Beautifully seductive ruby plum colour. From the outset, there’s a defined salty blackcurrant, cassis reduction, and liquorice intensity to the nose with hints of sweet red apple and purple earthy beetroot. Still massively youthful, the palate shows a pedigree not akin to your average Cotes-du-Rhone wine quality. There are layers of plum confit, sweet tart black cherry, caramelised blueberries and picante peppercorn spice with raw meat nuances. A taught, linear and vital, saline finish suggests that ageing this “modest” wine for another 8 to 10 years might yield something very special indeed. (Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
For all the Rhone snobbery out there, all the wines I’ve tasted from Jean-Luc have been intense, precise, fresh, characterful Rhone expressions… and eminently affordable. Don’t fall for the detracting chatter, these wines are every bit as smart as Jean-Paul’s releases.
Boschkloof Epilogue Syrah 2014, WO Stellenbosch, 14 Abv.
Tasting Note: Beautifully dark, opaque black plum colour. Alluring, seductive nose of black cherry, burnt coal embers, German deli, black chocolate and sweet cassis fruit complexity. The oak treatment is pristinely well judged, with faint hints of vanilla pod and spicy cedar. Impeccable balance and freshness, this wine is a dead ringer for an E.Guigal 2010 Cote Rotie, from one of their best vintages ever. What makes this wine is its pin point precision, purity, and focus. Naturally very youthful, but I can see all the elements that have seduced the world’s top wine journalists. I’ll admit to being late to the game. Hell, I’ve missed the national anthems and we’re 20 minutes into the first half. But I got there in the end… and I’m there to watch the grand stand finish. Beautiful wine. A six pack of this is going straight into my cellar! Bravo Reenen Borman. (Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Saturday night was spent with good friends in Midhurst, deep in the West Sussex countryside. While Storm Angus was rattling the roof tiles outside, we were safely indoors enjoying a pair of beautiful Autumnal reds alongside a fabulous slow cooked dinner of beef bourguignon.
Hearty food demands hearty reds and we had Jurgen Gouws’ youthful Intellego 2015 Syrah from the Swartland, and a mature Boekenhoutskloof 2006 Syrah, made from Wellington fruit, to enjoy.
Jurgen Gouws’ Intellego Wines focus on sourcing grapes from different parcels in the Swartland and also farming some of them. Working in close collaboration with several growers, Jurgen secures high quality fruit which is very expressive of the Swartland region including Cinsaut, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Chenin Blanc. All the wines are made in a small winery that Jurgen rents in the Paardeberg. Keeping the Intellego Syrah in its purist form is the best way to express these granitic soil sites.
We drank the fresh, vibrant Intellego while the 10 year old Boekenhoutskloof Syrah breathed in a decanter. Made from grapes bought from Schalk Burger & Sons’ Welbedacht Estate in Wellington, the quality of these Syrah grapes have long been revered and indeed, the source of this fruit was for many years one of the best kept secrets in the SA wine industry.
Tasting Note: Intellego Syrah 2015, Swartland ~ Rich opulent nose of smoked meats, blackberries, red peppercorns and savoury spice. Woodsmoke, charcoal and cassis. Sweet fruit, concentrated damson plums, spicy steak tartar, and burnt oranges. Suave, fine boned and very elegant. Positively light on its feet with plenty of classical restraint (93+/100).
Tasting Note: Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2006, WO Coastal ~ Dusty, earthy saw dust wood spice nose initially. Plenty of black berry, black chocolate, beetroot, and lovely seductive earthy complexity. Melange of Autumnal notes, bramble berries and forest floor complexity. Lush, plush and still very youthful. Class act (94+/100).
Many thanks to our friends Ben and Sarah for the lovely weekend.