Young winemakers returning to the old ways
From before the invention of writing, stories of intrepid and interesting journeys have entertained and inspired humans – and make for intriguing back stories that lend an extra dimension to the enjoyment of wine.
The (possibly slightly-embellished) legend behind Survivor wines has it that a Nguni cow, being transported from one Swartland farm to another one fine day, decided that the journey wasn’t about the destination after all and took a flying leap from the back of the bakkie.
She survived her landing in a cabernet sauvignon vineyard and was hence named Survivor – inspiring a metaphor for brave choices and the free spirit of the Swartland in the wine range named after her.
Standing out on the shelf with their colourful illustrations of Survivor the cow in her Swartland farm setting, the range includes single varietal chenin, sauvignon blanc, pinotage, cabernet sauvignon and the Offspring red and white blends, and the latest release, the 2017 Wild Yeast Syrah.
Fermented 100% in oak with only the yeasts naturally found in the vineyard and cellar, the wine was matured in oak for 12 months, resulting says winemaker Ben Snyman in an “unbridled expression of syrah – mind, body and soul, wine made without commercial yeasts so that we can experience the true taste of terroir.”
His suggestion of spicy pork or roast lamb is a great one – a super pairing with a dark, intense and luscious wine that unfolds in florals, blackberries and spice, delicious (R185 cellar door or online, fairly widely available in retail).
Another interesting journey is the one of Paul Boutinot from French winemaker to owner of two South African estates – False Bay Vineyards and the biodynamic Waterkloof, always in keeping with his philosophy of upholding tradition alongside modern technology.
Revenant Red is a story of a return to tradition (“revenant” meaning one who returns from a long absence or journey) – blending cinsaut with cabernet sauvignon in the tradition that made many of the long-lived Stellenbosch cabernet’s of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Winemaker Nadia Barnard says cinsaut was “hidden” in many of these great Cape classics – not mentioned on the label, but lending them elegance, perfume and longevity.
Reviving the tradition of blending cinsaut with cab, each component was treated separately and aged for nine months before blending, with slow, natural fermentation, the cinsaut foot-stomped twice daily (that’s what you call hands-off winemaking!) – the focus on gentle extraction to produce elegant wines showcasing fruit from the Helderberg and Stellenbosch.
The result really is a new classic (R100 from Waterkloof) – bold with elegance, savouriness and hints of dark chocolate, some typical cabernet mintiness, all wrapped up in a complex, intense, fragrant wine. I loved it!