Neil Ellis Op Sy Moer 2016, a distinctive white bottled with fine lees

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Warren Ellis, son of Neil, showed me this wine on a recent trip to South Africa. It’s a blend of Palomino from Piekeneerskloof (450 m, Table Mountain sandstone soils), with a touch of Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc. All old vines. The interesting thing about this wine is the lees contact: it’s even bottled with some fine lees, to help keep freshness and add some character.

15% of the grapes were fermented on skins for four months before pressing, while the rest were pressed to barrel directly and fermented. No cultured yeasts were used, and there were no additives at all, even sulfur dioxide. The wine was racked from its gross lees, but bottled with fine lees. (Op Sy Moer translates as “sur lie” or “on the lees”.)

Neil Ellis Op Sy Moer 2016 Western Cape, South Africa
Complex and sweetly fruited with some spiciness. Notes of herbs, lemons and yeasts. Tangy with good acidity. Initially tastes a little sweet, but this is bone dry on the finish with some grip. Lemony, tangy and spicy with nice intensity, and notes of orange peel, mandarins and sipe apples. Such a delicious, innovative and unusual wine. 93/100

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