Category Archives: South Africa

Winemaker profile: Elizma Visser, Olifantsberg

Elizma joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015 following extensive winemaking experience; studying Oenology and Viticulture in Stellenbosch and working in France and Italy, before returning home to South Africa.

Her time making wine in Europe proved to be an excellent springboard to go on and start creating elegant Rhône style wines of her own.

Elizma certainly has her work cut out, looking after all areas of the management of the vineyards and winery at Olifantsberg. In the vineyards, Elizma’s focus is on taking care of the soils and maintaining the quality and sustainability of the vines. Whereas her focus in the winery, is to get the best expression of the fruit using a variety of techniques.

Here are a few facts you may not have known about Elizma:

 

  • Wine is a family affair! Elizma is married to a fellow winemaker and they have two young sons
  • A music fan, she likes; Indie Rock, Alternative and Acoustic and would love to pick up learning the guitar again
  • It’s not just rock music that’s a hit with Elizma, she also enjoys collecting rocks
  • Before embarking on her current career Elizma had ambitions to learn Greek and study Philosophy but now it is her winemaking philosophy that is centre stage
  • Favourite quote: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”
  • Elizma could have ended up on a very different road, if she hadn’t pursued wine, she would have liked to have become a professional rally driver and knows quite a bit about cars
  • Floristry is a big passion for Elizma. She hopes to own a flower shop one day… with a small wine bar inside of course. The Olifantsberg Blanc, with its floral notes, would surely make a great flower shop wine!

 

For more information on Elizma’s wines at Olifantsberg, contact your account manager.

Winemaker profile: Samantha O’Keefe

Samantha O’Keefe has found the diamond in the rough with Lismore Estate. Samantha’s story starts with her moving away from California, to Greyton in Western Cape, in hopes of having a different way of life for her and her family.

The site she fell in love with, Riviersonderend ranch, is 300 meters in altitude at the foothills of a mountain so the vines are chilled by the winter snow and then nourished by the African summer sun, producing fantastic small production, hand crafted cool climate wines.

She bought a dairy farm which she then transformed into a vineyard with the goal of producing superb Burgundian style wines. Samantha then built her own house, constructed the winery and planted the vines on the 25 hectare of the farm suitable for grape growing.

With no background or education in winemaking, and having previously worked in television in LA, winemaking to Samantha was more than just producing wines – it was a method to build something for the family.

After the tough journey of planting vines and making wine, Samantha was very close to giving up the dream of becoming a winemaker and planned to return to California with her sons. But then, Robert Parker galvanized her dreams, writing amazing reviews of her wines in Wine Advocate, and Tim Atkin followed close behind praising Samantha’s Viogniers. Her wines took off internationally, making Lismore Estate Vineyards a huge success story!

The wines Samantha produces are terroir driven and inspired by Rhône producers in Côte Rôtie and Condrieu.

We are extremely proud to be the UK supplier of these hugely impressive, critically-acclaimed wines with six in our portfolio.

For more details, speak to your account manager.

Royal Ascot 2018: What to expect

Hallgarten recently became Official Wine Supplier to Ascot Racecourse, exclusively supplying all still wines to the world’s most famous racecourse.

The partnership will see Hallgarten supply wine across the site, including at Royal Ascot. Michelin-Starred chefs Simon Rogan, Philip Howard and Raymond Blanc OBE will all showcase a specially selected range of wines in their respective restaurants during the Royal Meeting.

Royal Ascot is one of the most iconic race meetings across the world – there’s nothing quite like it. From the Royal procession, to the style and fashion, to the strawberries and cream (and the racing of course), over 300,000 people are expected to attend.

There’s a lot to consider across the five day spectacle, we’ve taken a closer look at what you can expect.

At Royal Ascot’s award-winning, fifth-floor restaurant, On 5, with its extraordinary garden terrace offering panoramic views of the racecourse. What will Michelin starred Philip Howard be pouring with his signature menus…

White:

Tenuta Ammiraglia, Massovivo, Toscana, Vermentino 
A lovely, intense straw colour, which leads to an impressive bouquet of fragrant blossom and exotic fruits, along with a fascinating vein of earthy minerality which is classic of this area. Fresh, crisp and sapid, but well sustained by its structure, it has an intriguing hint of almond on the finish.

Swartland Winery, ‘Founders’, Swartland, Chenin Blanc
An expressive Chenin Blanc, showing vibrant aromas of ripe passion fruit, guava and pineapple, underpinned by refreshing citrus notes. Well balanced with a full, fruity palate and a refreshing minerality on the finish.

Rosé:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’, Pays d’Oc
The palest of salmon pinks, this is a wonderfully pure, fresh flavoured wine, with vibrant fruit aromatics. The fruity characters are echoed on the palate, which has a lovely minerality and a zesty finish.

Red:

Saint Clair, ‘Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Noir 
Aromas of sun-kissed dark berries, boysenberry and freshly picked blackberries, are interlaced with toasted wood notes and a hint of dark chocolate. The palate is full of sumptuous dark berries, layered with freshly ground coffee beans and dark chocolate. A hint of cinnamon spice leads into a savoury finish.

 

Raymond Blanc OBE returns as chef-in-residence to the sixth-floor Panoramic Restaurant, which offers one of the finest views across the track and down the straight mile. What will Raymond be pouring this year with his gastronomic menu…

 

White:

Domaine Tabordet ‘Laurier’, Pouilly-Fumé
A classic Pouilly Fumé showing minerality complemented by notes of exotic fruits, tangerine, pink grapefruit and spicy undertones. The palate is powerful and refreshing and delivers a long, flinty finish.

Rosé:

Château de l’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ Rosé, Cru Classé Côtes de Provence
A lovely pale powder pink hue, with refreshing aromas of grapefruit leading to succulent peach and apricot on the palate. Fruit forward and full, with a hint of spice, this elegant rosé has a refreshing acidity and a long finish.

Red:

Domaine de la Ville Rouge ‘Inspiration’, Crozes-Hermitage 
Deep red, intense aromas of red fruits and black olives. Spicy and peppery notes with silky tannins. An elegant and silky textured wine.

 Sweet:

Château Suduiraut, Castelnau de Suduiraut, Sauternes
This elegantly rich wine shows orange peel and mineral notes on the nose. The palate is full bodied with almonds, spice, honey and candied fruits through to a lovely, lingering finish.

 

Chef Adam Handling, of The Frog E1 and Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden, makes his Royal Ascot debut in 2018 as he takes his role as ‘Chef in Residence’ of The Balmoral – a brand new Fine Dining restaurant within the Royal Enclosure.

White:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Terroir’ Picpoul de Pinet
A complex nose, full of citrus and floral notes combined with white peach, exotic fruit and a hint of pineapple. The palate is rich with zesty fruit and a livewire acidity which keeps your taste buds tingling. The finish is long and well rounded.

Rosé:

Saint Clair,’Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Gris Rosé
Pale salmon in colour, a refreshing rosé with lifted aromas of sun-ripened strawberry, whipped cream and spiced pear. Beautifully balanced and finely structured on the palate with creamy fruit flavours of raspberries and strawberries leading to a hint of spice on the finish.

Red:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Naturalys’, Pays d’Oc, Syrah
A deep colour, with shimmering hints of violet. Generous nose, packed with red fruit and spice. Supple, aromatic and impeccably elegant on the palate, with refined tannins and lively fruit flavours offset by subtle herbaceous aromas.

Sweet:

Quady Winery, ‘Essensia’, California, Orange Muscat
Vibrant orange in colour, this wine delivers luscious sweet oranges and apricots on the palate. The bittersweet orange marmalade notes balance well with the zesty citric acidity.

 

What else to expect by numbers…

56,000
bottles of Champagne

80,000
cups of tea

21,000
jugs of Pimm’s

7,000
rumps of English lamb

3,000
kilos of beef sirloin

3,500
fresh lobsters

 

Steve Daniel: The Cape Crusader

Hallgarten Head Buyer, Steve Daniel, is somewhat of an expert when it comes to tasting and blending wines. Below is a snapshot from his recent trip to the Swartland region of South Africa.

I will not lie visiting South Africa is not a chore. It is one of the most beautiful wine producing countries.

April has now become the month for my annual visit to the Cape. The primary reason is to blend the wines we and several large wine merchants and retailers take from the Swartland Winery. I also use the five days to visit our other South African producers.

I arrived in Cape Town early on Sunday morning, tired and a little stiff after a 12 hour overnight journey in Economy Class. I picked up my car and drove the 90 minutes to Riebeek Kasteel in the heart of the Swartland. Riebeek was established in 1661 and is full of old world charm.

It is also home to many artists and the epicentre for the super trendy Swartland revolution winemakers.

I caught up on my sleep and was rested the following morning after my 90 second shower – there are very strict water restrictions in the region as it has been experiencing drought conditions for 3 years.  I then drove 30 minutes to Swartland Winery for an extensive tasting.

The Winery was set up as a co-op in 1948 and has been through many transformations to the present day. Today it is no longer a co-op but a winery, production unit and bottling plant . They make their own wines and bottle many of the entry level wines from the trendy small boutique Swartland producers. Swartland has access to over 3,600 hectares of vineyards so I was not surprised that my day’s wines consisted of 87 different samples of Chenin, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Pinotage, as well as the rest of the great and the good of the region’s wine grapes.

When confronted with so many samples you need to be ruthless and quickly taste them all and reject any that do not hit the required standard. You then taste through and pick out the superstar samples.

The superstar samples represent around 40 wines. This is an incredibly high number as I usually only select around 10% – it is a good year in the region. Minuscule yields due to the drought. I make our selections and blends for our wines and retire to Riebeek for a well earned dinner.

That night the heavens opened and it rained for the whole week. People in the Cape were very happy and I set off to Stellenbosch and my remaining visits.

Women with Bottle

In organoleptic experiments to test the wine tasting ability of men and women, female participants consistently come out on top. Their superior palates and tasting precision are well documented in scientific papers and journals, which explains why the female success rate in the Master of Wine qualification is now higher than men’s. This is now being reflected in wineries and cellars around the world as female winemakers take the helm in a traditionally male environment.

We’re proud to represent some of the best female winemakers around, and we believe the wines crafted by theses talented women from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.

Let’s take a look at these women with bottle.

Ayana Misawa – Grace Winery

It’s fitting that Ayana makes wine in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture from the revered Koshu grape. Her father Shigekazu Misawa is regarded as Japan’s Koshu pioneer. Ayana has studied winemaking on three continents, at the Enology and Viticulture Institute in Yamanishi, the Faculty of Enology of the University of Bordeaux, and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. She has also made wine at some very well-known wineries, including Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile and Mountford in New Zealand.

She’s now returned to her homeland and works for Grace Winery, one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries.

Try the; Grace Winery, Private Reserve Koshu, Yamanashi 2016

“Pure, sublimely crisp and mineral in style, this wine is fresh and elegant with subtle notes of citrus fruit and white pear. The palate, like the nose shows white fruits and spicy white pepper notes with a savoury note on the finish.”

Estelle Roumage – Château Lestrille

Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to St Emilion. Her wines are delicate, precise and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to her customers and engaging, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.

Try the; Château Lestrille, Le Secret de Lestrille, Bordeaux Supérieur 2012

“A rich, powerful wine with a beautiful balance between roasted aromas and intense black fruit flavours. Structured, it has velvety tannins and well integrated oak, complemented by complex dark berry flavours, hints of cigar box and a smooth, elegant finish.”

Juliette Joblot – Domaine Joblot

Juliette’s father Jean-Marc Joblot introduced her to winemaking on the family estate in Givry. She started making the wines herself in 2010 and has never looked back. “I learnt a lot from my father,” she says, “and now I make decisions.” She’s aware that little-by-little more women are entering the world of winemaking but is also quick to point out that in regions like Burgundy it can be difficult to be a women in the winery “because the Bourgogne men are very macho!” The young yet determined Juliette is further exploring her father’s approach of ‘lutte raisonnée’ in the vineyards, and is also looking to retain more freshness by limiting oxygen contact in the winery as much as possible.

Try the; Domaine Joblot, Mademoiselle Blanc, Givry 1er Cru 2016

“Elegant and poised, this stunning wine shows complex aromas of yellow stone fruits and citrus notes layered with delicate floral nuances. Harmoniously balanced, it has a generous texture on the palate and a wonderful tension on the finish.”

Caterina Bellanova – San Marzano

Caterina is the queen of San Marzano and Primitivo is considered the king of Puglian grapes: this is certainly a winning marriage! Named European Producer of the Year 2015 in the Sommelier Wine Awards,  San Marzano is one of the most professional, forward-thinking cooperatives in Southern Italy with a reputationfor producing great wines. Trained biologist Caterina Bellanova, whose wines reflect the region and its native grape varieties, is at the helm.

Try the; San Marzano, Edda Lei Bianco, Salento 2016

“A distinctive blend with delicate aromas of sun-ripened peach and floral aromatics, which are interwoven with delightful hints of freshly squeezed lime, mint and herbal complexity. Beautifully balanced, the rounded palate is elegantly styled and has a touch of minerality on the finish.”

Louise Chéreau – Chéreau Carré

Chéreau-Carré has always been a family affair, and Louise Chéreau is the third generation to work in the winery which was founded by her grandfather in 1960. Alongside her father Bernard, she is heavily involved in the winemaking process, working the vintage from harvest to blending. “It is great to learn from my father as we build together a solid philosophy that will last until – maybe – a new generation is coming. We are a good team.”

Try the; Chéreau Carré, Château de Chasseloir, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2014

“The wine was matured on its fine lees- “Sur Lie” -until bottling which imparts an attractive “prickle” on the palate and a nice weight. Dry, with a characteristic crisp acidity and a bright, fresh minerality.”

Steffi Weegmüller – Weingut Weegmüller

With 300 years of winemaking history and a gaze to the future, the Weegmüller sisters have excelled in making delicious Riesling. Steffi is one of the first women to have worked in Germany’s male-dominated wine industry and she has mastered the technical aspects of winemaking, and – crucially – brings heart and sensuality to her work. She has been making the highest quality Pfalz wines for more than 25 years aided and abetted by a largely female team at the winery and behind the scenes. Her clean, pure wines have a delicate Pfalz spice and are very generous in fruit and length.

Try the; Weegmüller, Bürgergarten, Pfalz, Gewürztraminer Spätlese Trocken 2015

“Aromatic and restrained Gewürztraminer with a creamy texture and notes of rose, lychee, delicate spice and fresh ginger. Elegant, balanced and full of flavour.”

Nadine Ferrand – Domaine Ferrand

Nadine Ferrand is the latest family member to take helm at the Domaine in the heart of Pouilly Fuissé. She has transformed the vineyard and winery since taking over in 1984. She and her daughters are clearly doing something right as the wines regularly receive high scores from Robert Parker. Nadine Ferrand has brought the domaine to the top of Pouilly Fuissé. Her wines with vivacious fruit notes, buttery roundness and appealing minerality have been recognised by the Sommelier Wine Awards as a jewel of the appellation

Try the; Domaine Ferrand, Saint-Véran 2016

“This is a refreshing, complex and velvety white from Saint Véran. Ripe fruit flavours of juicy white pear combine with delicate notes of zesty lemon. Softly textured, with a harmonious balance between refreshing acidity and fruitiness, this shows great finesse on the finish.”

Samantha OKeefe – Lismore

Samantha O’Keefe’s is an amazing story. A native Californian, Berkeley educated, she and her husband realised their dream and bought a mountain in Africa. But then her husband upped sticks and Sam was left to bring up two young boys on her own, 300 metres up a mountain, surrounded by wilderness (and baboons). But nothing seems to faze her and she has made her mark with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics the world over.

Try the; Lismore, Greyton, Reserve Chardonnay 2016

“A stunning example of a restrained, cool climate Chardonnay. Intense citrus aromas and classic soft fruits are layered with honey and vanilla notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with a refreshing, crisp acidity and a distinct minerality. Concentrated and refined, with a lingering citrus finish.”

Elizma Visser – Olifantsberg

 

Olifantsberg is situated on the Breedekloof’s Brandwacht mountain slopes, and is owned by Hollander Paul Leeuwerik, who is making great strides in progressing towards producing excellent Rhone-style wines. Elizma Visser joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015. This down to earth Elsenburg-trained winemaker has worked in France and Italy, before returning to South Africa.

Try the; Olifantsberg, Grenache Blanc, Breedekloof 2016

“A unique style of Grenache Blanc which shows delicacy and finesse. Subtle aromas of lime blossom combine with green herbal notes, white peach and quince through to a beautifully balanced and richly textured palate with a delicious saline hint on the finish.”

 

WOTM: Olifantsberg, Grenache Blanc, Breedekloof 2016

Recently awarded 91 points by South Africa’s leading wine magazine, Winemag, the Olifantsberg, Grenache Blanc, Breedekloof 2016 is a rich 100% Grenache made by Elizma Visser in the Breedekloof wine district is our Wine of the Month in March.

In a nutshell:

Richly textured and beautifully balanced, with delicious notes of stone fruits, lime blossom and green herbal notes with a hint of salinity on the finish.

The producer:

Olifantsberg is passionate about producing authentic wines with a true sense of place, which reflect the unique location of  their vineyard. The focus is on sustainable farming and winemaking practices, resulting in limited intervention in the both the vineyard and cellar.

The team are fully committed to understanding their terroir and managing their natural resources through conservation, which adds to the singularity of their wines. The unique terroir with its  combination of schist soils, constant winds and elevation, produce concentrated fruit that results in elegant, fresh and age-worthy wines.

The wine:

The grapes were whole bunch pressed to ensure an elegant extraction of colour, aromas and flavours. Natural fermentation took place in seasoned French oak barrels and large oak foudres which added layers of complexity. The wine was aged for 10 months on its fine lees, adding texture and richness.

Serving suggestion:

Accompanies fresh seafood, rich fish dishes or cuisine with a subtle hint of spice.

It’s the Most Wine-derful time of the year

The festive season is the time in every wine calendar when the so-called ‘good stuff’ is brought out, dusted off, sold to guests or purchased in the shop.

So what have the experts been recommending for this year’s festive tables?

David Williams, writing in The Observer

Lismore, Syrah 2016 

“Samantha O’Keefe makes some of South Africa’s most exciting wines from her lonely spot in a converted dairy farm in Greyton. This is the best of the beautiful bunch, a satin-textured, black-pepper-scented, raspberry-fruited pure Syrah.”

Jane Macquitty’s Top 100 Wines for Winter, in The Times
Gerard Bertrand, Merlot, Pays d’Oc 2016

“The former rugby player Gérard Bertrand produces some of the Languedoc’s finest wines from all sorts of terroirs, so grab this black cherry, cedar and red plum-packed Merlot.”

Domaine Andre Brunel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014

“If you want a robust but velvety, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove-scented red to serve with spiced beef and casseroled game, this one has your name on it.”

 

Will Lyons, writing in The Sunday Times Food Magazine
Lismore, The Age of Grace Viognier 2016

“Down in Greyton on the Western Cape, the Californian winemaker Samantha O’Keefe has built up a strong reputation. Notes of apricot, honeysuckle and kiwi fruit make this gently aromatic Viognier a cracker.”

Olly Smith, writing in Event Magazine
Zorzal, Eggo Tinto de Tiza Malbec 2014

“Game changing Malbec blend with lively freshness and sleek polished richness.”

Victoria Moore, writing in The Telegraph
Lismore, Syrah 2015

“Californian Samantha O’Keefe set up a winery in the remote ward of Greyton, an area not known for winemaking. Her pioneering spirit paid off; her Syrah is magnificent, pure and lucid, with intense flavours and fine tannins.”

Michele Chiarlo, Nivole, Moscato d’Asti 2016

“A deliciously light, airy and effervescent sweet wine that tastes of ripe peaches and sweet fresh grapes. Just gorgeous. Low in alcohol and a wonderful pick me up too. Try it with Christmas pudding – it’s refreshing.”

Jancis Robinson, writing in the FT
Lismore, Chardonnay 2014

“Californian Samantha O’Keefe has somehow ended up making wine way up in the cool hinterland of Hermanus on the south coast of South Africa, and very fine wine it is too. Another one to compare and contrast with fine white burgundy.”

 

Adrian Smith, Sypped, writing his Christmas Wine Guide in the Independent
Berton Vineyard, Botrytis Semillon 2016

“Rich, silky, smooth, honey blossom, apricots and orange rind with a sweet glazing.”

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Joanna Simon, writing her Festive Red Wine Guide on her blog
clos Clare, Cemetery Block Shiraz 2014

“From a two-hectare plot of 20-year-old vines in the Watervale sub-region. Benchmark Clare clarity and definition, with cool mint, ripe blueberry and chocolate, touches of toast and liquorice and super-sleek tannins. Drink over the next seven years.”

Lismore, Syrah 2016

“Supremely graceful Syrah from mountain foothills in the hidden-away Greyton region. Fragrant, pure raspberry and cherry fruit edged with smoke and white pepper and the silkiest of tannins. The Pinot Noir is also excellent.”

Henry Jeffreys, writing on why you should head down under for Christmas wine in The Spectator
clos Clare, Cemetery Block Shiraz 2014

“The Clare Valley is better known for Riesling than Syrah. You think this wine is going to be a bit of a bruiser from the spicy and smoky aromas but on the palate it’s more about cool climate grace with floral notes, crunchy fruit and light tannins.”

WOTM: Olifantsberg, Chenin Blanc 2014

In a nutshell:

The Olifantsberg, Chenin Blanc 2014 is full of ripe tropical fruits combined with honey and spicy apple notes, beautifully textured.

The producer

Olifantsberg is passionate about producing authentic wines with a true sense of place, which reflect the unique location of their vineyard. The focus is on sustainable farming and winemaking practices, resulting in limited intervention in the both the vineyard and cellar. The team are fully committed to understanding their terroir and managing their natural resources through conservation, which adds to the singularity of their wines. The unique terroir with its combination of schist soils, constant winds and elevation, produce concentrated fruit that results in elegant, fresh and age-worthy wines.

The wine

The wine was wild yeast fermented in one third 2000L foudres, one third seasoned barrels and one third stainless steel tanks. The wine was kept on the lees for 10 months before stabilization and bottling.

The tasting note:

The color a very light yellow. The nose is complex with ripe pineapple, passion fruit and mango. The palate is very elegant and fresh but complex with a lovely texture. This wine already drinks well but definitely has ageing capacity.

Steve Daniel Introduces Lismore’s First Pinot Noir Vintage

 

In a nutshell:

A vibrant and elegant Burdgundian style Pinot Noir with striking purity of fruit and attractive aromas of sour cherry, sweet spice and a touch of cherry blossom. Bright acidity and enticing red berry fruit with forest floor notes and a soft, linear finish.

 

In the Papers: Bloemendal Takes Time On The Independent

On the Independent online on Sunday, Terry Kirby, looked at which South African wines would improve if you weren’t to drink them now – an interesting idea.

Kirby suggested resting Bloemendal’s Suider Terras, 2014, on the rack for 10 years:

“Most Sauvignon Blanc is best drunk young and fresh when it is at its most vibrant…but not here. This already barrel-aged wine from a boutique winery can be drunk now, but is designed to develop even more in the bottle, so the limey, grassy acidity mellows into something structured and intense. Richer fish dishes are in order here, now or in the next decade.”

A little patience can go a long way…

Tim Atkin Selects South Africa’s Finest

Tim Atkin’s 2016 South Africa Special Report has highlighted the country’s finest wines, including a broad selection from our suppliers. In his fourth annual guide to South Africa, Atkin says the 2015 vintage is: “the best I’ve tasted in 26 years of writing about the country’s wines” and should be a springboard to global recognition.

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95 points Lismore Viognier 2014 Wines of the Year – Other Whites

Greyton (14%)

With just 0.8 hectares in the ground, my only criticism of Sam O’Keefe’s world class Viognier is that there isn’t more of it. Located on a protected, south-facing slope, which contributes to the wine’s freshness and vivacity, it’s a voluptuous, peach and nectarine fruity wine with subtle oak and balancing acidity. The closest the Cape comes to Condrieu. Drink: 2016-19

 

95 points Lismore Syrah 2015 Wines of the Year – Syrah

Greyton (14.5%)

If the 2014 Lismore Syrah was noteworthy – the 2012 and 2013 were not released – then this is even better. Deeply coloured and highly perfumed, with stony, granitic, liquorice, black pepper and tapenade notes, complemented by fynbos aromas, granular tannins, subtle oak and pithy acidity. Exceptional winemaking. Drink: 2017-25

 

93 points Lismore Barrel-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Greyton (13.5%)

The Sauvignon Blanc at Lismore is planted on the crest of the hill on an unirrigated block. Made in an oxidative style like a Chardonnay, it’s fermented in older wood and sees 11 months of lees contact. The result is creamy, savoury and slightly smoky, with notes of gunflint and grapefruit and impressive palate length. Drink: 2016-19

 

93 points Lismore Chardonnay 2014

Greyton (13.5%)

It’s tempting to see something of a California style in this wine because of the origins of its winemaker, Sam O’Keefe. It’s a rich, honeyed, peachy style with impressive concentration, savoury oak and enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and focused on the palate. Drink: 2016-19

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95 points Olifantsberg Blanc 2015 Wines of the Year – Other Whites Bordeaux White Blends

Breedekloof (13.5%)

Elizma Visser’s brilliant white blend was an exciting find for me this year. Sourced from young vines, this cuvée of mostly Roussanne with Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay reminded me of the thrill of tasting Chris Alheit’s wines for the first time. Savoury, spicy and balanced, with leesy, natural yeast notes and a tapering finish. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

92 points Olifantsberg Silhouette 2013

Breedekloof (13.5%)

Grown on the shale soils of the Breedekloof, this is a stony, spicy blend of Syrah with 10% Carignan, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Perfumed, elegant and spicy with tangy acidity and a fir finish. A brand to keep an eye on. Drink: 2016-21

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95 points Bloemendal Suider Terras Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Wines of the Year Bordeaux White Blends

Durbanville (13.5%)

These contoured, south- and south-west facing vineyards consistently produce one of my favourite Cape Sauvignon Blancs. Expertly wooded, with zesty acidity, a creamy mid-palate and grapefruit and smoked lemon flavours, it’s like a top Pessac-Léognan at a very affordable price. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

93 points Bloemendal Kanonberg Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2015

Durbanville (13%)

The combination of Lombard Loubser in the vineyards and Francois Haasbroek in the cellar has taken the Bloemendal wines to new heights. This Sauvignon-based white (with 30% Semillon) is herbal, savoury and refreshing, with classic cool climate flavours and a patina of oak. Drink: 2016-19 (FUTURE VINTAGE NOT IN UK STOCK YET)

 

 93 points Bloemendal Semillon 2014

Durbanville (13%)

Another outstanding white wine from a much-improved winery, this cool climate, appealingly herbal Semillon has just the right amount of oak for added complexity. Cream soda, citrus, lemongrass and dill notes are supported by pithy acidity. Lovely. Drink: 2016-20 (FUTURE VINTAGE IN UK STOCK YET)

 

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94 points Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2013

Constantia (12.5%)

If it weren’t for Vin de Constance, grown nearby at Klein Constantia, this varietal Muscat de Frontignan would be the most celebrated sweet wine in the region. Fermented on skins (hence its deep colour), it’s a complex, dried fruit, orange peel and pastry-like white with rich concentration and 181 grams of residual sugar. Drink: 2016-24

 

90 points Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Constantia (14%)

Made in what Boela Gerber calls a “cracker vintage”, this is the ripest Sauvignon yet from Groot Constantia. It’s still pretty zesty, aromatic stuff, with 14% Semillon adding some cream soda notes. Herbal and racy, with green olive and lemongrass flavours. Drink: 2016-17

 

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WOTW: Bloemendal Suider-Terras Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

In A Nutshell: A modern classic, one of South Africa’s most-celebrated Sauvignons.

The Producer: Stunning, world-class Sauvignon Blanc has put the Bloemendal Wine Estate firmly on the map as a sought after producer among world wines. Situated in the heart of picturesque Durbanville just 30 minutes north of Cape Town, the 239 hectare Estate includes Kanonberg Mountain. This hilltop has amazing views of Table Mountain, False Bay, Stellenbosch, Swartland and beyond. It is here on the Southern Slope or ‘Suider-Terras’ where the vineyards are planted with French cultivars, predominantly Sauvignon Blanc.

The Wine: Three successive pickings from the fabled Suider Terras block stretching over a two week period, allowed for lots with both punchy aromatics and luscious texture. Fermented took place in a combination of 500 litre French oak and concrete tanks; the lots were blended in April and aged in barrel for ten months

Tasting Note: A vibrant golden hue with green core, the wine explodes with the characteristics of fynbos, chalk, limes and herbs. A robust wine built for serious ageing and development. Made for pairing with good food and will age between 7-10 yrs.