3 February 2021 • The Wine Whisperer

SOS South African Wine

As I write this, the South African Government has literally just lifted their ban on alcohol sales, albeit it with restrictions. This was the third such ban during the pandemic over the last 10 months and it has had a huge impact on the South African wine industry. It is feared that many wine producers will go out of business and that 1,000s of people may lose their livelihoods. The 2021 harvest has just begun in the Western Cape and many farms have both little cash flow and little storage space to produce this years vintage, as last year’s unsold wine is still sitting in the tanks.

The UK wine trade is trying to raise awareness of this dire situation. Hermitage Cellars has always had strong links with many Cape wine producers – indeed we count many as our friends – and this month we are focusing on three to show our support.

Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards, Swartland 

Leeuwenkuil, meaning ‘Lion’s Lair’, is owned by Willie and Emma Dreyer. Situated in the Swartland, the farm dates back to 1693. When Willie and Emma began building Leeuwenkuil it was 45 hectares of vineyards but today comprises of 1,250 hectares. At Leeuwenkuil they follow a sustainable farming approach with as little interference as possible. Leeuwenkuil offers staggering value in general and caused a stir when their 2013 Shiraz was given a 92-point score in Decanter and we have been fortunate to have been offered some of the 2015 vintage of this brilliant wine.

Leeuwenkuil are currently altering their distribution in the UK and hence we have been given a small parcel which we are able to offer at these prices.
Leeuwenkuil Chenin Blanc 2018, Swartland     List £9.99    Offer £7.99
Refined and racy offering with vibrant aromas of green apple and tropical fruit. Its good minerality leads to a wonderfully fresh finish.

Leeuwenkuil Shiraz 2017, Swartland                 List £9.99    Offer £7.99
Classic Shiraz for everyday drinking shows opulent, bright fruit on the nose and a beautifully elegant palate of round tannins layered with clove spice, ripe cherries and violets.

Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2015, Swartland       List £34.95    Offer £26.50
‘No longer a single vineyard wine – it now hails from two parcels of 21 and 37 years’ old – this remains an incredibly intense, hedonistic Syrah, with savoury, aromatic spices, dark blackberry fruit, some black olive and a fresh, satisfying finish.’
Tim Atkin MW, SA Special Report 2018, 96/10

The Wolftrap by Boekenhoutskloof 

Produced by Boekenhoutskloof Estate, without doubt one of the leading estates in the Cape. The top wines from Boekenhoutskloof are made in tiny quantities but the reputation of this estate is built as much on the outstanding value and quality of The Wolftrap wines as much their flagship bottles.

Without question if I was in the Restaurant trade these would be my House Wines.

The Wolftrap White 2019, Western Cape                          £7.99    
A brilliant blend of roughly one-third of each Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc. It has a striking aroma of fruit blossom mingling with spicy, baked apple aromas. The palate is equally as interesting with fresh green fruits, again with a definite spicy character. The ripeness of the vintage is clear on the finish, where a tropical note comes through.

“An over deliverer of note” 4 stars John Platter Wine Guide

The Wolftrap Red 2019, Western Cape                          £7.99    
This is blend of mainly Syrah with a little Mourvèdre and Viognier, most of which is grown in the Swartland region. Intense red colour with a purple rim. A spicy profile with ripe black fruit and violets. Smooth and rich on the palate with soft tannins, good density and a hint of oak. This classic, rustic Rhône style blend again over-delivers at this price.

Reyneke, Stellenbosch

There is no doubt that over the years Reyneke Estate in Stellenbosch has become one of Hermitage Cellars’ favourite producers and Johan Reyneke has become a good friend. I have visited this Organic and Biodynamic producer many times and never fail to walk away thinking that Johan is one of the most inspiring people that I know in the wine trade. It seems that with recent vintages, Reyneke have only enhanced their reputation further – Tim Atkin MW has constantly rated the estate as one of South Africa’s ‘First Growths’ in his annual report. Back in 2013, Neal Martin (then of Robert Parkers Wine Advocate) called the 2011 Reyneke Syrah the ‘best value red wine in the world’. It’s quite a statement but the best part is that it still rings true today. These are wonderful wines and deserve a place in everyones wine rack.

Reyneke Organic Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2019, Western Cape         £11.75
‘The nose presents gooseberries, guava and lime zest, with a small hint of cut grass. Flavours of green apple, citrus and a slight saltiness follow through on the palate, with the creaminess of the Semillon coming through towards the end. The wine is fresh, grippy and has good texture, all contributing to a well balanced wine.’ – Nuschka de Vos, Winemaker

Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2019 Stellenbosch – Biodynamic                 £17.15
‘Part of a superb line up of white wines from Reyneke in 2019, this hails from two old-vine blocks planted in the mid-1970s. Textured, saline and perfumed, with notes of wild flowers and honey, a hint of old wood spice and a textured, salty finish. Effortlessly complex.’
Tim Atkin MW, SA Special Report 2020, 94/100

Reyneke Syrah 2018 Stellenbosch – Biodynamic                    £14.85
‘Made with fruit from two parcels on granite soils, this deeply coloured Syrah shows the class of the Polkadraai area for this classic Rhône variety. Firm, sinewy and complex, it has notes of fresh blood and fynbos, sappy tannins and layered black cherry and blackberry fruit.’
Tim Atkin MW, SA Special Report 2020, 92/100