The wines of
Anthonij Rupert South
Africa revisited part 18: visiting L'Ormarins Estate in Franschhoek
is the home base and main estate of Anthonij Rupert wines, based in
Francschhoek. The vineyards have been extensively remodelled over
the last six years, with the lower lying vineyards pulled out and
new plantings higher up the slopes of the Groot Drakenstein
visited with viticultuarlist Rosa Kruger, who is held in high regard
in South Africa and does quite a bit of consulting work, and also
with red winemaker Dawie Botha. Kruger has clearly done a lot of
work in bringing the vineyards up to scratch, and has even done some
experimentation: we saw some Pinot Gris vines trained on single
stakes, like Riesling in the Mosel or Syrah in the northern Rhône (below).
there was lots of virus on the farm in the old valley floor
vineyards. Great strides have been made in dealing with this.
Natural predators of mealybug, the vector of leaf roll virus, have
been released. Workers in the vineyard avoid creating dust, because
this kills off the mites that predate mealybug. And when workers
identify an infected vine, they get a reward. All the new plantings
have been of virus free material.
well as L’Ormarins, Anthonij Rupert also have three other farms.
There’s Riebeeksrivier, a new property on the slopes of the
Kasteelberg overlooking the Swartland, which has deep shale soils.
These are ideal for Syrah, which has recently been planted here. The
blocks with more clay in will be planted to Marsanne, Rousanne,
Grenache Blanc and Viognier, and there are also some old Chenin
Blanc bush vines here. Rooderust is a large farm in Darling, with
160 ha of vineyards, all of which are virus free. Bordeaux
varieties, Syrah, Sangiovese and Chardonnay are grown here. High
Noon is the name of a new property in Elandksloof, near Villiersdorp
and Hermanus, with vineyards as high as 880 metres. Pinot Noir,
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are planted here.
wines are made in two state of the art cellars found on the L’Ormarins
property. The red wine cellar here is truly remarkable, with a
revolving roof that is used to move large items around the cellar by
means of a winch. It’s quite James-Bond-villain like. It’s also
on multiple levels, so that wines can be moved around by gravity
rather than pumping.
top wines are fermented in barrel, using a system called ‘vinification
integrale’ (see www.vinification-integrale.com/en/process/alcoholic-fermentation). The barrels are fitted with an internal metal stirrer
and one end is made of clear, tinted Perspex. The barrels are then
mounted on an oxoline system that allows them to be revolved during
the fermentation to allow skin contact: a breathable bung allows
carbon dioxide to escape.
Red winemaker Dawie Botha
terms of the actual wines, it seems that the range is in a
transition point. Previously, like much of the South African
industry, it has focused on Bordeaux varieties. But now, with the
new farms and terroirs, a switch to varieties perhaps more suited to
the climate of the Cape is occurring. While the current range is
really impressive, you get the feeling that the best is yet to come.
range is split into four tiers, with Anthonij Rupert at the top
(flagship wines), the L’Ormarins, then Terra del Capo (Italian
varieties), and then Protea (entry level).
Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Western Cape Fresh, smooth and grassy. Gently aromatic. The palate has
grapefruit notes and is fine and expressive, with fresh, subtly
grassy character. Restrained but elegant. 90/100
Chardonnay 2008 Western Cape Rounded, smooth, mealy, savoury and malty on the nose. The
palate is smooth and rounded with warm, mealy flavours. Distinctive,
with a long finish. Elegant style. 90/100
Rupert Nemesia 2006 A blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier with a touch of
Clairette. Beautifully complex and intense with thrillingly lively
fruit and complex notes of grapefruit, fig and pineapple, as well as
peaches, toast and nuts. Intensely savoury with explosive flavours
and good acidity. 93/100
Rupert Merlot 2005 Creamy, chalky, smooth and intense on the nose. Sophisticated.
Very richly fruited with blackberry and plum. The palate is
concentrated, intense and refined with lovely mineral notes, subtle
earthiness and fine grained tannins. It’s beginning to develop
complexity and has good structure. 93/100
Rupert Cabernet Franc 2005 Very refined, smooth and intense with lovely focus. Concentrated
and refined with lovely grainy, sleek tannic structure, as well as
blackcurrant and red fruits. Lovely concentration with a nicely
savoury edge. Sweet fruit, but with old world structure: a fantastic