I stayed overnight at the lovely Schulphoek guest house, a short distance along from Hermanus. It’s a lovely spot, and in the morning I went for a run along the sea front, along a beautiful coastal path. This was soul-restoring.
Back at the guest house, Peter-Allan Finlayson rocked up to show me his wines. His Hemel en Aarde wines are under the label Crystallum, and they are superb. The 2012 Bona Fide and Cuvee Cinema Pinots are both quite different, but equally compelling, the former much bigger, denser and structured than the latter. It’s a wine that I think will age beautifully over 20 years; the Cinema is already drinking well and will continue to do so for a decade. But that’s just my guess. The blended Pinot, Peter Max 2012, is a really lovely wine.
Paradisium is Peter-Allan’s Swartland project, and the 2012 is big, tight and well defined, with a high proportion of Merlot. Another wine in need of time.
Then it was time to drive to St James, where I was to be judging the Top 100 South African wines. We took the slightly longer but more scenic route along Clarence Drive.
At St James, the judges were gathered for an introductory lunch, with the wine focus being mainly slightly older South African wines.
This Paul Cluver Riesling 2006 was showing beautifully.
Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling 2006 Elgin, South Africa
Powerful, with flavours of lime, apricot and spice. Great concentration and richness, with a lively, fresh personality. 93/100
Stellenzicht Founders Reserve 1997 was a smart wine, dating back from Andre van Rensberg’s time there.
Stellenzicht Founder’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Attractive green, spicy, chalky edge to the raspberry, black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Tarry and a bit angular, but ageing nicely. 92/100
Warwick Cabernet Franc 1998 is now mature, drinking very well.
Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 1998 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol. Fine leafy, cherry, plum fruit with some spice and a hint of mint. Nice smooth spicy tannins. Ageing well. 92/100