Swartland street party
Strict criteria make wines from this region distinctive and worth sampling tabletop
AN ELEMENT of suspense heightens anticipation when confronted with wines produced by Swartland Independent members. Before the corks are pulled, reading the labels sets the scene for the adventure ahead, as information shared serves to intrigue.
Take the label that tells you that his Muskeljaatkat 2011 is a blend of “old cinsaut and grenache bush vines”, just “589 bottles “produced from “a harvest to be remembered by the attack of the Muskeljaatkat, Genetta genetta and their taste for free-range farm chickens. It was also a a year for the making of some pretty decent wines.”
So states Jasper Wickens on the back label, and I was able to unearth more: that this once-off label is nearly sold-out and sells for R95. The genet that was decimating Wickens’s poultry was caught in the act and now resides, stuffed, in the office of Badenhorst Family Wines for whom Wichens makes wine. He will also pour his new chenin at the Swartland Independent Street Party next weekend.
Chenin is, with shiraz, a major role player in these Swartland Independent wines: Intellego 2012 reveals little on its simple labels, but the stylised scales hint at garagiste Jurgen Gouws’s ambition of making a complex chenin that balances minerality and subtle wood with crisp fruit. He makes his wines at Lammershoek, which I rated mostly highly for elegance among my samples: its Roulette Blanc 2010 is a delicious blend of 41 percent chenin, 37 percent chardonnay and 18 percent viognier, finished with clairette blanche. They were sourced from old bush vines ranging from 15 to 45 years, organically farmed. Aged in old French oak for 12 months, fruit and honey precede minerality and this Rhone-style blend will continue to improve.
David and Nadia Sadie opt for formal labels: the front of their 2012 chenin blanc reveals little beyond the name David, made from mature bush vines from Kasteelberg, Paardeberg mountain and others from the west of Malmesbury. This Independent champion is among those nominated for Diners’ Club Young Winemaker of the Year and, along with his excellent chenin, he is releasing a grenache, white and red blends this year.
A maiden collaboration between Dean Thompson and Roger Clayton is the 2mile2, a succulent 2011 syrah produced from organically grown grapes, aged for 18 months in thirdfill French oak. They recommend opening it ahead of serving with red meat and cheese. They will also release a chenin and a pinotage at the street party.
From a little winery in the Koringberg comes Velored, a 2011 red blend from Wildehurst Wines, starring just over half grenache, 40 percent shiraz and finished with viognier – an Independent star of great character which can be tasted at The Wine Kollective in RiebeekKasteel.
This half-dozen offers a glimpse of the quality and range produced by these innovative winemakers. Members, all of whom aim to make wine that presents a true expression of their large region, agree to a number of conditions.
The grapes must come from the Swartland, and the wine vinified, matured and bottled there. Inoculated yeast cannot be used, wines are not acidifed, contain no added tannin and are not chemically fined. New wood may not form more than 25 percent of the casks used, and the latter has to be European oak. Unannounced checks done in cellars and of bottled wine help to ensure the rules are adhered to.
Chairman Chris Mullineux invites wine-lovers to the Swartland Independent Street Party next week to discover wines that are unique – many of which are unobtainable anywhere but at an outlet in Riebeek-Kasteel. Chris and his wife, Andrea, have just expanded their operation’s name to Mullineux Family and Leeu Wines.
● The Swartland Independent Street Party takes place on November 9, from 3 to 6pm at Short Street Square in Riebeek-Kasteel. Tickets cost R100 and include a glass and tastings. Buy at the door or through www.webtickets.co.za.
TOPPING GOOD TIME: Tobago’s barman Heinrich la Meyer with the Passionate and Mint Daiquiri.
PLAIN OF PLENTY: Take the winding road to Riebeek-Kasteel next weekend to attend the Swartland Independent Street Party and unearth wines like no others.