wines of Sterhuis, Stellenbosch
Africa revisited part 9
A family farm at the top of
Stellenbosch’s Bottelary hills, Sterhuis was bught as a retirement
project/investment by André Kruger the father of the current
manager/winemaker, Johan Kruger, in 1980. Initially, the grapes from
the 112 hectare farm were sold, but Johan got involved in 1998 and
the family are now making their own wine.
Johan says that he has no technical
training, 'but I like to have the terroir reflected in the glass,'
he says. 'I follow naturalistic, holistic approaches.'
'We are bound to what we have as soils,'
says Johan, 'but I'm glad to be bound to decomposed granite.' It's a
100 hectare farm with 45 hectares of vines, just over half of which
are white varieties.
Sauvignon Blanc is planted at the top of
the hills at an altitude of 480 m, facing south and west. It is
interesting to compare the two: Johan says the south-facing blocks
give more gooseberry and mineral characters, while the west-facing
block shows more tropical fruit.
Johan thinks that Sauvignon with too much
methoxypyrazine character is bad. 'It's been picked green by people
who pick on acid levels,' he says. 'This means the vineyard should
be planted to Chenin or Chardonnay.'
His Sauvignon winemaking is simple:
whole-bunch pressed, fermented at 12-18 C, with some lees
contact. His favourite variety to work with, though, is Chardonnay.
'I'll never make Burgundy in South Africa, but I respect what they
are trying to do with terroir,' His Chardonnay undergoes natural
fermentation in oak, with about 45% new oak (French, medium toast).
He adds a litre of skimmed milk per barrel before filtering, as a
His most interesting wine (in my opinion)
is the Astra. This is a white blend from three vineyards adjacent to
each other on the top of the hill. The three varieties –
Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Chenin – are fermented separately in an
oxidative style. After 12 months the barrels are racked, but the
wine goes back into its original barrel, on its original lees. 'I
want that site in a glass,' says Johan.
Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Stellenbosch
alcohol. Quite ripe, with rich, tropical fruit. As well as subtly
green, dill notes. The palate has subtle herby greenness, nice
balance and good acidity. Nice fruity character with a subtly
mineral edge. 89/100
Chardonnay 2009 Stellenbosch
toasty, nutty nose with peach and fig notes. Very broad and a bit
bready. The palate is dense and full with herby, grapefruit
minerality. Taut and rich at the same time. Notes of white peach and
pear. A lovely expressive wine. 92/100
blend of Chanin, Sauvignon and Chardonnay from three adjacent
vineyards at the top of the hill. 14% alcohol. Deep yellow colour.
Fresh, herbal, grapefruit nose is rich and rounded, but also fresh.
The palate shows minerals, herbs and lemons, as well a some peachy
richness. Lively and intense, this is serious. 94/100
Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
alcohol. From a north-facing slope. Lovely perfumed nose with
savoury, gravelly notes. The palate has sweet plum and berry fruits,
with grippy, savoury, gravelly notes. Quite sophisticated with nice
freshness. Finishes a bit earthy. 90/100
1, Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards
2, Cape Point Vineyards
3, AA Badenhorst
4, Eben Sadie: Sadie
Family Wines and Sequillo Cellars
5, Paul Kretzel of
6, Mullineux Family
12, Charles Back and Fairview
13, Hermit on the Hill
14, Klein Constantia
15, Iona, Elgin
Part 16, Paul
Part 17, Eagles'
Part 18, Anthonij
Part 19, Oak
Part 20, Shannon,
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