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

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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.

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