Collection of cool wines from the coast
Wines of origin from Elim near Agulhas are at the forefront of a wave of cool climate wines from the Cape’s new maritime terroir over the last decade, writes Graham Howe
COOL sea breezes and rocky coastal soils are producing a signature style of aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Syrah marked by elegance, layers of intense flavour and minerality. Try the wines of pioneers such as Black Oystercatcher, The Berrio, First Sighting, Ghost Corner, Land’s End, Quoin Rock and Strandveld Vineyards from the tip of Africa: Black Oystercatcher Sauvignon Blanc 2012. One of the pioneers of the new cool climate vineyards of Elim celebrates its tenth year with this vintage. Family winemaker Dirk Human expresses the maritime terroir in a scintillating wine with signature chalky minerality and refreshing green fig, gooseberry and capsicum notes. First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2012. The most southerly vineyards in Africa near Cape Agulhas express the rocky red koffieklip, shale and quartz soils in a wine with creamy oyster shell minerality. Winemaker Conrad Vlok blends in a little Semillon to create a wine with asparagus, grapefruit, gooseberry and coastal fynbos character Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2012. David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg Cellar sources fruit from Elim to make this award-winner. Rated the Top Sauvignon Blanc at the Terroir 2013 Awards and one of the Top 100 SA Wines, it has layers of gooseberry, green fig and grapefruit flavours with a rich, steel minerality. Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Made by Charles Back of Fairview from cool vineyards near Elim, the wine brand which brought the new wine ward to the fore bears a familiar sketch of Cape Agulhas lighthouse. Tropical aromas intermingle with flinty and fynbos notes while a splash of Semillon creates a fuller, rounder mouthfeel. Strandveld Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Sourced from the legendary Pofadderbos site, cool sea breezes and the yellow ferricrete soils of this single vineyard and cool sea breezes create a flagship Sauvignon Blanc. White asparagus, nettle and green pepper flavours and flinty minerality develop into a creamy, full palate with a long finish. The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2012. This arty label from the Pratt’s family vineyards in Elim is named after a caravel in Vasco da Gama’s fleet which rounded the Cape in 1497. The winemaker says the salty, flinty, herbaceous and crisp ripe fig, citrus and granadilla flavours epitomise the authenticity of the cool Elim style. Quoin Rock Cape Agulhas Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Made at a Stellenbosch cellar from fruit sourced from vineyards near Elim, it was aged on lees to create a full, creamy mouth-feel. The cool climate terroir shows in a wine with typical gooseberry, green pepper, nettle and passion fruit character and rapier-like acidity. Black Oystercatcher White Pearl 2009. This seamless blend combines the creamy, creamy texture of barrel-fermented Semillon with the minerality and gooseberry flavours of Sauvignon Blanc. Sixth generation farmer Dirk Human says this complex, full-bodied food wine with citrus and ginger nuances goes well with spicy Aisan fare. Strandveld Vineyards Adamastor 2011. This acclaimed blend of Sauvi- gnon Blanc and Semillon is named after the mythological sea spirit of the Cape of Storms described by Camoens in the Lusiads. The cellar’s flagship wine shows a typical wet gravel nose with intense flinty minerality and green fig character on a full, creamy palate. The Berrio The Weather Girl 2011. “Each day we thank God for the wind” — which blows across the Agulhas plains and cools the grapes — declares the delightful label. This classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon has a flinty and ripe fig nose with a smooth creamy palate of lemon and lime flavours lingering on the palate. Black Oystercatcher Rose 2013. A bone-dry food wine combines distinct red cherry, strawberry and pomegranate aromas and flavours with a dry zesty, mineral palate. Owner winemaker Dirk Human says “I don’t think there’s a dryer wine out there” — and it’s a fine match for his wife’s Thai green curry at his cellardoor restaurant. First Sighting Shiraz Rose 2012. Made from Shiraz, this spicy wine with floral and strawberry aromas and red berry and watermelon flavours is a tad sweeter than the 2011 vintage — but still ends on a refreshingly dry note. Enjoy it with winemaker Conrad Vlok’s seafood curry — or with local Agulhas mussels, periwinkles or oysters.
The annual Elim Food & Wine Festival takes place at Strandveld Vineyards next Saturday, on 28 September.
As the most southerly vineyard in Africa, Strandveld is situated 11km from the Atlantic Ocean, between Elim and Cape Agulhas.