Cape Wine (1) Some stunning old vine South African whites

Cape Wine began for many of us with a tasting of wines from the Old Vines Project. These wines were all made from vineyards aged 35 or over. It’s worth reading more about this interesting project, but for now my focus is on some of the excellent wines I tried. Here are my notes on the whites that I really liked.

Thorne & Daughters Paper Kite Old Vine Semillon 2017 Swartland, South Africa
This is Semillon Blanc and a little bit of Semillon Gris (pink-skinned) from a Paardeberg vineyard planted in 1963. It’s the farm owned by Franziska Wickens called Kweperfontein. It has real delicacy with fresh, fine lemony fruit and amazing texture. Unfiltered this year, it’s a lovely wine of great precision and delicacy. 95/100

Thorne & Daughters Cat’s Cradle Chenin Blanc 2017 Swartland, South Africa
This is from a vineyard in the Paardeberg planted in 1979. It’s taut and mineral with lovely spiciness, some pear fruit, and good acidity. There’s a lovely fine-grained mouthfeel to this wine. Superb. 94/100

Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2016 Swartland, South Africa
This is from a vineyard planted in 1964 in the Paardeberg (Franziska Wickens’ Kweperfontein again), and it spends one year in concrete and then another year in steel. It was the first of the three drought vintages, and it the grapes came in with tiny berries that were very ripe. This is quite viscous, with pear and white peach fruit. Lots of depth, but very fine, with a lemony freshness on the finish. Lovely texture and depth. 94/100

Terracura White 2017 Swartland, South Africa
First outing for this, a new wine from a vineyard high up in the Paardeberg with poor soils. This spends 10 months in barrel, two months in stainless steel. 35 year old vines. Lovely texture here: fresh, supple and fine with citrus and pear fruit. Very fresh with real finesse in the mouth. 93/100

Gabrielskloof The Landscape Series Elodie Chenin Blanc 2017 Durbanville, South Africa
This is from a vineyard planted in 1974 and 1975 that Peter-Allan Finlayson shares with Chris Alheit and Franco Lourens. Bush vines. Lovely weight: rich and textured and bold but with freshness and structure to the pear and citrus fruit. Fine spicy finish with a supple feel to it. 94/100

Mullineux Old Vines White 2017 Swartland, South Africa
This is from a range of vineyards aged 45-65 years old. Very bright with good acidity and a citrus kick. Some tangerine and lemon detail. Fine, bright and linear. 94/100

Welgegund Heritage Wines Chenin Blanc 2017 Wellington, South Africa
From a vineyard planted in 1974 that’s dry grown, and yields a miserly 2 tons/hectare. 12.5% alcohol. Bright, vivid and intense with a twist of apricot richness as well as fresh lemony fruit. Impressive. 92/100

Metzer Family Wines Chenin Blanc ‘Maritime’ 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is the first time Wade Metzer has made two separate single vineyard Chenins, Maritime and Montane. This, the Maritime, comes from a vineyard near Somerset West, 4 km from False Bay, planted in 1981. Granite/quartz soils. This spends 10 months on lees in old oak, and the wine isn’t touched once it is in barrel. Powerful stuff, with fine, lively citrus notes and a touch of nuttiness. There’s some peachy richness but it finishes lively and stony. Really appealing. 93/100

Metzer Family Wines Chenin Blanc ‘Montane’ 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
From a vineyard planted in 1964 at 150 m in the foothills of the Helderberg. Wade Metzer takes the whole 1.3 hectare block, and because there’s a lot of clay in the soils it’s harvested a couple of weeks earlier than Maritime. Crisp, focused and fine with lovely lemony notes and some pear and green apple fruit. Bright and lively with nice purity. 94/100

Longridge Clos du Ciel Chardonnay 2015 Stellenbosch, South Africa
From a close-planted Helderberg vineyard originally planted by John Platter in 1987. Natural fermentation. An intense Chardonnay with a linear personality. Compact, concentrated citrus fruit with some freshness and a slightly pithy finish. Fresh, focused and intense: this could age really well. 94/100

Rickety Bridge The Road To Santiago Semillon 2016 Franschhoek, South Africa
This comes from Basil Landau’s 1905-planted Semillon vineyard. It’s very fresh and detailed with tangerine, apple and some lemony fruit. Some green tea hints. Juicy and complex. 93/100

Naudé Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 Western Cape, South Africa
From two vineyards, one in Durbanville and one in Stellenbosch. Lovely aromatics here: open with tangerine, lemon and apple fruitiness. Very open on the palate with nice acidity and notes of orange peel, lemons and pears. 93/100

Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2016 Wellington, South Africa
This vineyard was planted in 1952, and the wine is stunning. There’s a hint of apricot, alongside the pear and peach fruit. Lovely complexity here with good acidity and a grainy structure. 95/100

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