Stellenbosch


Showing all 7 results

  • Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin Blanc 2023

    £46.95

    “The man himself was in the United States, rebuilding the brand after the pandemic, Forrester having been one of the most successful exporters. So, I met with general manager, Louw Strydom who said: “The 2022 vintage was splendid, probably slightly better for the whites than reds, but not like this year [2023] with all the rain. The whites were fairly easy to make, but we managed to obtain the phenolic ripeness. Our wines are now under ScrewCap and Diam.” Their eclectic portfolio strands icon labels such as the ever-reliable 2022 The FMC – one of the finest that I have ever tasted, naturally-made wines like the “Dirty Little Secret”, which I find just a bit too funky for my own taste. Their entry-level “Petit” range of various grape varieties continues to form a perfect introduction to South Africa and represents unbeatable bang for bucks. Readers should also keep a beady eye out for their “Misfits” range, more eclectic Rhône-inspired wines that are showing great potential.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (11/23)

    In Stock

  • Leeu Passant Basson Cinsault 2018

    £49.75

    “The 2018 Cinsault Wellington Old Vines Basson is a tricky wine to assess and needs 10-15 minutes to really cohere on the nose. It offers brambly red berry fruit, leather and Provencal herbs on the nose, eventually revealing pressed rose petals. The aromatics actually improve 24 hours after opening. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannins, fine acidity, a dash of white pepper and an almost sedate, understated finish. This will be fascinating to observe maturing in bottle. Drinking window: 2021-2032. 92 points

    Andrea Mullineux sent me a detailed overview of Leeu & Mullineux with useful summaries of growing seasons. “In the vineyard, we continue to strive for true sustainability by working with self-sowing and permanent cover crops as well as letting our own indigenous cows graze on the farm’s pastures, making manure that we use in the compost that will feed the ground and improve soil carbon. This has, over several years, created healthier soil that retains more moisture, allowing us to dry-farm even in the drought years. Natural soil nutrition also improved so no chemical fertilizers are used. For both wineries, we have a strong base of making wine from old vines, but you cannot get old vines without young vines, so we are also planting young vineyards with the pace and the idea that they will one day become very old. This means that we want the vines to grow slow and even, pruning always with the focus on quality and longevity. We have also planted ‘experimental’ blocks of varieties that may work in the Swartland, especially if the climate continues to change, including Rousanne, Assyrtiko and Vermentino. We have already had wonderful results with Macabeo and Verdelho.”

    “As business owners, we have seen how vulnerable so many have been during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and prohibition in South Africa. We decided to help create more sustainable futures for our loyal employees by starting an additional winemaking company that they could have ownership in, Great Heart Wines. Each employee maintains the same role that they have within Mullineux and Leeu Passant, but they have shareholding and the opportunity to be a director of Great Heart Wines. The only employee with a different role is Gynore Fredericks, who is a graduate of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege Programme and my assistant winemaker for Mullineux. I am on board to oversee the wines as a cellarmaster for Great Heart, but Gynore is the titled Great Heart winemaker, which has been a great opportunity for her to grow.”

    “As the winemaker for the Mullineux and Leeu Passant wineries, even though I was heavily involved in the vineyards, I am now even more intimately involved with them, taking accountability through to the final wines. Nothing has changed stylistically or philosophically with the wines, but as I have matured, so has my approach in the cellar, knowing more, after years of trial and error, about where to step in and be the custodian and where I can let the wines achieve everything they were set out to do with minimal interference.

    Now for the vintages. The 2019 was the fourth vintage of the ‘Great Drought’ and was characterized by naturally low yields from vines. Winter 2018 was, again, exceptionally dry, but also cold, and this allowed the vines to rest well before the growing season. Spring was relatively dry, but not excessively warm, and this resulted in smaller canopies and smaller bunches and berries. Summer 2019 was also warm and dry, and harvest started at roughly normal dates (last week of January in the Swartland and mid-February in Stellenbosch) with tiny berries and small loose clusters. Cool evenings allowed the freshness of the wines to be maintained. There was some higher disease pressure in Stellenbosch later in the harvest, brought on by some mid-season precipitation, but our Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards, our last to come in, are not late-ripening for the region and we evaded rot by getting the grapes off the vines in time. In the Swartland, an interesting observation is that glucose and fructose ratios had returned to normal and therefore the alcohol-to-sugar ratio significantly improved within our vineyards and our natural/indigenous yeast metabolisms. We saw higher alcohols in the previous years, even though the picking sugars had not increased, and we attributed this to the higher fructose levels in the earlier drought years. The good news is that all of the wines were sugar dry in the end, but in 2018 and before, the alcohols were 0.5%+ higher than what was expected.

    “After the drought we experienced from 2016 to 2019, the 2020 harvest produced yields that were closer to normal. Also, the weather in 2020 was just perfect. We had a lovely wet and cold 2019 winter and very little rain during the growing season, so the grapes were super healthy with small, intensely flavored berries. The irony of the social/government/health challenges we were facing as a country is that we probably had our best vintage in 2020. The season started relatively late and we were able to harvest Chenin and Syrah for Mullineux a few weeks later than the past few years and at moderate potential alcohol levels. The Chardonnay, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for Leeu Passant ripened at ‘normal’ times due to a warmer second half of harvest, so this created a bit of an accordion effect with a huge mid-harvest crunch. However, with the looming lockdown that we were facing, this ended up being a blessing, as there was no scrambling to complete harvest. Though we were still experiencing very dry conditions in the Cape, the hard work that we had been putting into our vineyards over 5-plus years was clearly evident during this season.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (07/21)

    In Stock

  • Leeu Passant Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

    £34.95

    “Dark ruby in color, the 2021 Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon displays a dusty edge in the glass, with tones of dark red and black fruit and herbaceous notes of roasted red pepper, dusty cherry and dark plum blossoms. Medium-bodied, the wine uncoils on the palate, revealing a firm tannic edge with a fresh beam of acidity that drives the mid-palate. It will undoubtedly age like a champ but will need additional time in the bottle to come around. Until then, if you enjoy young, cool-climate Cabernet, this is for you. I would instead give it a few more years and enjoy it with food. Your patience will be rewarded. Drink: 2026-2038. 93+ points

    Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate (12/23)

    In Stock

  • Leeu Passant Chardonnay 2021

    £64.95

    “Instantly impressive with oaky essences that sway with seductive cardamom and lemon pastry cream, the 2021 Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay is expressive with yellow apples, toasted almonds and spiced white tea. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses fantastic texture, revealing seductive weight and flavors of lemon yogurt that burst with popcorn kernel essences and layers of citrus. The wine sways with refined oak flavors before concluding with a delightfully mineral-laced finish. Wow, this is spectacular Chardonnay! Drink: 2023-2043. 96+ points”

    Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate (12/23)

    In Stock

  • Scions of Sinai Feniks 2022

    £34.75

    “I usually try to leave a free morning at the end of my trip to South Africa that I can fill with a new name, one that comes to light during my trip, someone namedropped by other winemakers. This year, that was unquestionably Scions of Sinai, the new project from winemaker Bernherd Bredell, the seventh generation of his family to tend vines. Bredell dropped into the Wines of South Africa offices so that I could look at his recent releases. “I am based in the lower Helderberg area,” he tells me. “Sinai Hill is one of the major granite hills that has been historically overlooked and under-utilised. The fruit was used in bigger blends. My family used to farm there, but we lost our land in 2012 due to trust disputes. I have always grown up in wine though; we were known more for fortified wines, the Chenin Blanc sold to the KWV during the fifties and sixties. I always had a different perspective – I wanted to salvage the bush vines. We’ve seen a lot of loss of heritage. I worked with Alain Graillot and Domaine Jamet, also Jean-Louis Chave. I see bulldozers ripping out old vines so I started to select parcels of bush vines and try to lease them back. I started Scions of Sinai in 2017. Before there wasn’t a lot of single vineyard expression from this site, only Chris Alheit’s Nautical Dawn. The vines are 3-4km from the coast on silica soils. They are earlier ripening, so you don’t get greenness at lower Balling levels, whilst they retain good acidity thanks to the winds. Facing south-east and east, the micro-climate is 6° Celsius, cooler than mainland Stellenbosch. The soils are deep and well-drained. The winery is located just below Cordoba and dates from the 1850s. It was standing unused, waiting for someone to use it, and so I have leased it since 2016. It’s a small space with no cooling facility, but it works. I used to do punch-downs as a kid, so I was averse to it as a winemaker.”

    These wines are definitely worth seeking out – exemplary expression of terroir and grape variety courtesy of a young winemaker, Bredell clearly has “the touch”. They just lit up the room as the rain pelted down outside. I would happily drop some of the Rhône blends in a top-level Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie tasting to demonstrate that Syrah does not necessarily reach its apotheosis there. I also like his take on Pinotage, where he likes the ocean to shape his wines and where he seeks not to hide their tannins. Quantities are very limited, so do try to seek these out.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (09/22)

    In Stock

  • Scions of Sinai Granietsteen 2018

    £29.49

    “The 2021 Granietsteen comes from a single site of Chenin Blanc planted in 1978. It represents the first vintage aged in concrete rather than used barrels and has a lovely nose with pressed yellow flowers, pithy pear, lanolin and a very subtle, flor-like scent. The palate is beautifully balanced with a fine bead of acidity, harmonious with yellow plum and nectarine, though it is the texture that really defines this Chenin Blanc. Highly recommended if you can track down one of the 1,950 bottles. Drinking window: 2023-2038. 93 points

    I usually try to leave a free morning at the end of my trip to South Africa that I can fill with a new name, one that comes to light during my trip, someone namedropped by other winemakers. This year, that was unquestionably Scions of Sinai, the new project from winemaker Bernherd Bredell, the seventh generation of his family to tend vines. Bredell dropped into the Wines of South Africa offices so that I could look at his recent releases. “I am based in the lower Helderberg area,” he tells me. “Sinai Hill is one of the major granite hills that has been historically overlooked and under-utilised. The fruit was used in bigger blends. My family used to farm there, but we lost our land in 2012 due to trust disputes. I have always grown up in wine though; we were known more for fortified wines, the Chenin Blanc sold to the KWV during the fifties and sixties. I always had a different perspective – I wanted to salvage the bush vines. We’ve seen a lot of loss of heritage. I worked with Alain Graillot and Domaine Jamet, also Jean-Louis Chave. I see bulldozers ripping out old vines so I started to select parcels of bush vines and try to lease them back. I started Scions of Sinai in 2017. Before there wasn’t a lot of single vineyard expression from this site, only Chris Alheit’s Nautical Dawn. The vines are 3-4km from the coast on silica soils. They are earlier ripening, so you don’t get greenness at lower Balling levels, whilst they retain good acidity thanks to the winds. Facing south-east and east, the micro-climate is 6° Celsius, cooler than mainland Stellenbosch. The soils are deep and well-drained. The winery is located just below Cordoba and dates from the 1850s. It was standing unused, waiting for someone to use it, and so I have leased it since 2016. It’s a small space with no cooling facility, but it works. I used to do punch-downs as a kid, so I was averse to it as a winemaker.”

    These wines are definitely worth seeking out – exemplary expression of terroir and grape variety courtesy of a young winemaker, Bredell clearly has “the touch”. They just lit up the room as the rain pelted down outside. I would happily drop some of the Rhône blends in a top-level Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie tasting to demonstrate that Syrah does not necessarily reach its apotheosis there. I also like his take on Pinotage, where he likes the ocean to shape his wines and where he seeks not to hide their tannins. Quantities are very limited, so do try to seek these out.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (09/22)

    In Stock

  • Scions of Sinai Swanesang 2022

    £37.95

    “I usually try to leave a free morning at the end of my trip to South Africa that I can fill with a new name, one that comes to light during my trip, someone namedropped by other winemakers. This year, that was unquestionably Scions of Sinai, the new project from winemaker Bernherd Bredell, the seventh generation of his family to tend vines. Bredell dropped into the Wines of South Africa offices so that I could look at his recent releases. “I am based in the lower Helderberg area,” he tells me. “Sinai Hill is one of the major granite hills that has been historically overlooked and under-utilised. The fruit was used in bigger blends. My family used to farm there, but we lost our land in 2012 due to trust disputes. I have always grown up in wine though; we were known more for fortified wines, the Chenin Blanc sold to the KWV during the fifties and sixties. I always had a different perspective – I wanted to salvage the bush vines. We’ve seen a lot of loss of heritage. I worked with Alain Graillot and Domaine Jamet, also Jean-Louis Chave. I see bulldozers ripping out old vines so I started to select parcels of bush vines and try to lease them back. I started Scions of Sinai in 2017. Before there wasn’t a lot of single vineyard expression from this site, only Chris Alheit’s Nautical Dawn. The vines are 3-4km from the coast on silica soils. They are earlier ripening, so you don’t get greenness at lower Balling levels, whilst they retain good acidity thanks to the winds. Facing south-east and east, the micro-climate is 6° Celsius, cooler than mainland Stellenbosch. The soils are deep and well-drained. The winery is located just below Cordoba and dates from the 1850s. It was standing unused, waiting for someone to use it, and so I have leased it since 2016. It’s a small space with no cooling facility, but it works. I used to do punch-downs as a kid, so I was averse to it as a winemaker.”

    These wines are definitely worth seeking out – exemplary expression of terroir and grape variety courtesy of a young winemaker, Bredell clearly has “the touch”. They just lit up the room as the rain pelted down outside. I would happily drop some of the Rhône blends in a top-level Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie tasting to demonstrate that Syrah does not necessarily reach its apotheosis there. I also like his take on Pinotage, where he likes the ocean to shape his wines and where he seeks not to hide their tannins. Quantities are very limited, so do try to seek these out.”

    Neal Martin, Vinous (09/22)

    In Stock