Longridge, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Visiting with Jasper Raats, who has taken this Helderberg winery in an exciting new direction

Website: www.longridge.co.za

Jasper Raats is the main man at Longridge, and he’s turned this winery around in the short time that he’s been here. It’s one to watch: a lot of people don’t realize yet just how good the Longridge wines are now.

Jasper, whose brother Bruwer runs Raats Family Wines, has a lot of international experience. He spent 6 years in New Zealand, and started a vineyard for the Bourgeois family of Sancerre, called Clos Henri. Sally, his wife, is also a winemaker, and when in New Zealand they started their own project together – Koru (first vintage 2004). They returned to South Africa in 2009, and have enjoyed being back here.

Jasper started consulting at Longridge in 2011, and he finished off the 2010 reds and 2011 whites. ‘We started tweaking the styles from then onwards,’ he says. 2012 was the first vintage completely under his control. ‘We’ve changed things quite a bit.’

‘We used to buy grapes from other parts of Stellenbosch,’ he reveals, ‘but now we only work with our own grapes and our neighbour’s: we are 100% Helderberg fruit.’ He points out that there are remarkably few 100% Helderberg wines produced considering how many wineries are in this subregion.

The farming has also changed, and is now organic, and Jasper is moving things towards biodynamics. They will get organic certification this year after a process that started in 2011.

On the winemaking side, a natural approach is being taken. ‘No more commercial yeasts, no more enzymes, no fining agents and in 90% of cases no filtration,’ he says.

The Helderberg is a special terroir, says Jasper. Everyone wants Helderberg Cabernet Sauvignon, because it has very fine tannic structure. The same applies to Merlot. He thinks the soils have a lot to do with it. At Longridge, under the decomposed granite topsoils they have clay at around a metre, which tends to give very fine tannins.

Chardonnay also does very well in the Helderberg, which is the coolest ward in Stellenbosch. Longridge are farming a very special, small vineyard called Clos du Ciel, (above) which was planted by John and Erica Platter in 1988 at a high density. Now farmed biodynamically by Jasper, it is producing some very special wines.

As well as making wines for Longridge, Jasper also has his own project: Jasper Raats Signature Wines. He makes the Cuvée Rika Pinot Noir from Elgin and the Driefontein Sauvignon Blanc from a 1 hectare organic vineyard in the Helderberg.  


Longridge Blanc de Blancs NV Stellenbosch, South Africa
This spends three years on lees. Very fruity but with nice toastiness. Very stylish with fine, fresh citrus and peach fruit. Nice spiciness. 90/100

Longridge Chenin Blanc 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Mostly fermented in puncheons, naturally made. ‘You don’t have to end up with a funky wine just because you are making it naturally,’ says Jasper Raats. Fresh and quite pure with nice pear and spice. Lovely texture with pear and white peach fruit, and some delicacy to the palate. 92/100

Jasper Raats Signature Driefontein Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Stellenbosch, South Africa
From a 1 hectare organic vineyard in the Heldeberg. Decomposed granite soils, wild ferment. White peach fruit, minerals and a green grassy edge. Lovely texture and elegance here, showing amazing finesse. 93/100

Longridge Chardonnay 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Textured pear and peach fruit with some apple pie and spice notes, and a hint of cinnamon. Lovely freshness with some generous texture. Fine and expressive. 92/100

Longridge Clos du Ciel Chardonnay 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is from a small vineyard high in the slopes of the Heldeberg that was planted in 1988 by John Platter. Close planted vines on decomposed granite, 1200 bottle production. 12.5% alcohol. Very fine, taut and crisp with pure minerally notes, white peach and grapefruit. This has purity, nerve and focus and it’s really fine. 94/100

Longridge Clos du Ciel Chardonnay 2000 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This was made by Andre Morgenthal. It’s lively and complex with notes of toast, citrus, fennel, butterscotch and nuts. Very rich and intense at 15 years old, but still alive. Bold with nice depth. 92/100

Jasper Raats Signature Wines Cuvée Rika Pinot Noir 2014 Elgin, South Africa
Beautifully perfumed with red cherries, spice and some warmth. Sleek, textured palate with nice spiciness, subtle herbiness and some textural complexity. Has a touch of warmth, but also lovely purity. 92/100

Jasper Raats Signature Wines Cuvée Rika Pinot Noir 2012 Elgin, South Africa
Expressive nose has some greenness. Nice pure, fresh palate with vivid berry fruits and some beetroot notes. Very full, fruity style. 91/100

Longridge Pinotage 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Fresh and lively with raspberry, ginger and spice notes. Lovely sweetly fruited palate with a juicy, fresh, friendly personality. 90/100

Longridge Pinotage 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Very pure and fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. Lovely sweet, juicy style with a hint of elegance. 91/100

Longridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Very sweet, pure blackcurrant fruit nose. Stylish and pure on the palate with sweet black fruits. Seamless and delicious with ripe fruit and a subtle hint of greenness. Nicely structured. 93/100

Longridge Ekliptika 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
It's a Cabernet Franc-led Bordeaux blend. Lovely chalky mineral, fine-grained structure is at the core of this wine, with lovely black fruits and almost salty mineral notes. Pure, fine and sweet but with nice balance. Elegant in a ripe style. 94/100

Longidge Ou Steen Demi-Sec 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
From an 0.6 hectare single vineyard, this is a Chenin Blanc with 17 g/litre residual sugar. Honeyed, sweet and spicy with ripe apples, pears and citrus. Fine spiciness and lovely texture, this is complex and fresh. 94/100


Part 1, Waterkloof
Part 2, Waterford
part 3, Reyneke
Part 4, Kanonkop
Part 5, Rustenberg
Part 6, Meerlust
Part 7, Delheim
Part 8, Thelema
Part 9, Neil Ellis

Part 10, Tokara
Part 11, Oldenburg
Part 12, Longridge
Part 13, Haskell/Dombeya

Wines tasted 03/15  
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