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South Africa

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De Wetshof Estate Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2019 (1x75cl)

Top 15 award in the Chardonnay du Monde 2019 championship (out of 696 Chardonnays tasted).

"Classic varietal warmth and freshness - benchmark Chardonnay scents, perfect for blind tasting practice. Apple, lemon, melon, peach, crème anglaise: fresh and appetising. Fresh, bright, vivid and juicy on the palate; satisfying mid-palate fullness and roundness of contour, with clean fruit definition. Fruits are a little more tropical on the palate than on the nose. A delicious varietal wine". Andrew Jefford, Decanter, Aug 2015 (of the 2014 vintage).

The name De Wetshof has been synonymous with the production of fine wines in South Africa since the 1970’s. As the first registered wine estate in the Robertson Wine Valley, De Wetshof has become known internationally as South Africa’s eminent Chardonnay House due to the pioneering role it played in introducing this noble Burgundian grape to the country. The De Wet family’s winemaking heritage can, however, be traced back to 1694 when the first De Wets arrived at the Cape and immediately made a mark on the South African wine industry. Today, De Wetshof is one of the few third generation wine estates in South Africa. Here Danie de Wet, proprietor and cellarmaster, is assisted by sons Johann (viticulture and marketing) and Peter (winemaker). 

The Robertson Valley is characterised by cold winters and sunny summers, with an average annual rainfall of 350 – 400mm. In summer a fresh southerly breeze has a cooling effect on the vineyards, allowing the grapes to ripen evenly and in perfect balance. Nights are chilly and during summer months a mist often shrouds the vineyards until late morning. The dry climate and bracing breeze keep pests to a minimum, resulting in sparse spraying programmes. Soils rich in limestone and broken mountain rock on De Wetshof’s site-specific vineyards allow this wine to emit optimum varietal expression. 

Age of the vines: 10-20 years. 

The grapes are picked in the coolness of morning, and the emphasis is on capturing the natural complexities of the Chardonnay grape immediately for the making of this unwooded wine.

Once de-stemming, pressing and overnight settling are complete, the juice is racked-off from the sediment and pumped into stainless steel tanks for the alcohol fermentation. After fermentation the wine is left on the less under controlled temperatures. Weekly stirring of the lees ensures maximum flavours are released into the wine until ready for bottling.

Ageing potential: 6–12 years (say the producer; we think a little less, but there are marked parallels with the ageability of Chablis).

100% Chardonnay.

Danie de Wet pioneered this noble cultivar in South Africa and this Chardonnay is a fresh and expressive, unwooded version. Bon Vallon has a brisk and clean freshness leading into a wide spectrum of classic flavours including citrus, wild flowers and grilled nuts, with a nuanced minerality on the aftertaste. The nose is delicate with aromas of lemon, honeysuckle blossom and peach. The wine was matured on its lees to produce a vibrant, lemony dry wine with a yeasty and delicate nutty finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£11.70

Goats Do Roam White 2019 (1x75cl)

Charles Back, the owner of Fairview, is also the man behind Goats do Roam, which was launched in 1999. Goats do Roam is rare in that it is an amusing and original proposition allied to wines of good quality and value for money. Normally, these 'concept' wines put more money into marketing than into quality but, characteristically, Charles has done the opposite. The fruit for Goats is sourced primarily from Paarl, Malmesbury and Paardeberg. The 'legend' goes that some errant members of Fairview's long established goat herd, supplier of milk for Fairview's internationally award-winning cheeses, escaped one afternoon from their paddock into the Fairview vineyards when Charles Back's young son Jason accidentally left the paddock gate open. The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from some of the choicest vines. Their selection serves as the inspiration for the blends of these wines.

The Viognier, Roussanne and some of the Grenache Blanc for this blend was sourced from the Fairview farm on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, grown on decomposed granite soils. The majority of the Grenache Blanc is sourced from our vineyards in Darling. The Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Chenin Blanc grapes were picked between 22 and 23.5°Brix.

The fruit was destalked and crushed and then gently pressed. Only free run juice was used and the vineyard parcels were kept separate. The juice was cold fermented in stainless steel tanks and the individual components were left on their lees prior to blending and bottling.

This wine is a blend of 39% Roussanne , 38% Viognier, 13% Grenache Blanc, 10% Marsanne.

The Goats Do Roam White is a vibrant light green colour in the glass. There are complex aromas of lemon, peach, pear and floral notes. The palate is medium bodied with stone fruit and citrus flavours, with fresh lingering acidity. A lovely pairing with cream-based seafood and pasta dishes.

ABV = 13.5%.

£10.25

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve 2018 (1x75cl)

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Chenin Blanc Reserve from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2019 on-line article, The Chenin Blanc renaissance (available here to Decanter Premium subscribers).

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

This is the Forrester mid-rank (a term which does it no justice), Reserve-level Chenin: it's amazing value from the King of Chenin.

Hand harvested, with careful selection from low trellis and old bush vines.

Barrel and tank fermented and left on the lees (9 months in French oak, 20% of which was new) and matured on secondary lees for a rounded complexity.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Ken.

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve 2018 - fiche technique

Golden hued and full bodied, with melon and spicy baked apple aromas. Layered, with mineral notes enhanced by honeycomb and caramel flavours from lees contact. This wine is a great example of the harmonious balance which can be achieved between fruit and delicate oak/vanilla flavours, as they combine to form complex, soft flavours with sufficient body to enhance even spicy and full flavoured meals.

See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 13.5%.

£12.80

Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2019 (1x75cl)

** A NEW KEN FORRESTER WINE, NOW IN STOCK **

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

VINEYARD

Regions: Stellenbosch, Elim and Darling.

Soil: Combination of decomposed granite,“Koffieklip”, Yellow Ferricrete, Red Ferricrete and White quartz

HARVEST - Ken always looks for a hint of tropical ripeness, as well as a crisp clean backbone to carry the wine. To achieve this, grapes are hand-picked from 3 vineyards, approximately 300 miles apart. This gives three unique flavour profiles; all made separately and then blended straight after being drained off the lees.

IN THE CELLAR - After crushing, pumped through mashcooler straight to press for draining. Freerun juice settled and fermented separately from pressings. Extended lees contact after fermentation for about 8 weeks to increase creamy” character. Juice/wine handled reductively throughout process.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Ken.

Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2019 - fiche technique

Sauvignon Blanc 100%.

This wine shows lovely complexity with mix of tangy grassy notes, fig leaf, peach and nectarine nuances. Brisk acidity with minerality on the palate which is typical of the long hang time in our cool region. 

ABV = 13.0%.

£13.30

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2018 (1x75cl)

** THE PIMPERNEL SHIPMENT ARRIVES! NOW IN STOCK (at last!) **

** ONCE SUPPLIES ARE GONE, IT'S A 6-WEEK WAIT UNTIL THE NEW VINTAGE ARRIVES FROM STELLENBOSCH! **

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Chenin Blanc Reserve from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of South African old-vine Chenin Blanc (see blue link below). Pretty much every other vintage of the FMC has done similarly!

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

100% Chenin Blanc.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Ken.

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2018 - fiche technique

The pinnacle of what Ken considers to be the finest expression of the grapes of this varietal, an icon Chenin and a challenge to the world! Rich, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey. Will gain additional complexity with cellaring.

Residual sugar = 7.6 g/litre, so on the margin between dry and off-dry; The FMC always is!

We at Exel like this because it's amazing. Full stop, period, end of. See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 13.0%.

£30.50

Ken Forrester, Dirty Little Secret (Two) Chenin Blanc NV (1x 75cl)

** CAN BE BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. LEAD TIME OF 7-10 DAYS! **

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wines column (see blue link below).

Dirty Little Secret 2015 - Dec 2017 Decanter review

"Now a non-vintage blend of the 2016 and 2017 harvests, DLS is a funky, waxy, just-off-dry Chenin from Piekenierskloof, deliberately made in an oxidative style. Bready, yeasty and complex, with notes of orange zest and glycerol-derived sweetness". 94/100 Tim Atkin

Without the efforts of men like Ken Forrester, South African Chenin Blanc might be scarcely more than a footnote to the country’s recent winemaking history.  This Zambia-born former restaurateur saw beyond the grape’s obvious quaffability, placing it firmly at the centre of his resurrection of the historic Scholtzenhof farm on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg mountain in the early 1990s.
Twenty years on, Ken is affectionately known as ‘Mr Chenin’. 

When not revolutionising the South African wine industry, Ken remains a staunch family man, also surrounded by a veritable menagerie of several dogs, horses, stable cats, geese, owls and guineafowl. And he hasn’t entirely left his restaurant days behind – Ken part-owns renowned nearby restaurant 96 Winery Road with his brother Allan (also restaurant manager), winemaker Martin Meinert and chef Natasha Wray.

This wine is made by soaking the grape juice on the skins and stalks before pressing takes place in wooden vats. The fermentation is done using wild or natural yeasts after which malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur before the wine is moved into French oak barrels for a 5-month "rest" before being bottled with no filtration.

The result is a tight, bright, minerally wine with  good texture and mouthfeel and an interesting hint of phenolic structure - like soft acidity and pear drop intensity.  It has been built to age and gain complexity in bottle.

The Ken Forrester Winery have taken a trip backwards in time to make a thoroughly modern wine. A wine that will age beautifully for at least the next ten years, a tribute to the age and concentration of the vines, as well as to low, very low interruptive winemaking, a natural wine in every sense and finally bottled totally naturally with no cold stabilization or fining and it is crystal clear, slightly golden in a good way, with a still lime green rim and how did they do that? Well it's unfiltered, unfined ... and just a Dirty Little Secret - naturally!

See also blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Ken.

Ken Forrester, Dirty Little Secret (Two) Chenin Blanc NV - fiche technique

100% Chenin.

Very vibrant in the glass  - a bright gold with green glint to the rim. Nose is intense but restrained, with lots of character: set honey, baked apple strudel, warm spice and a touch of grapefruit. The palate is concentrated and tight but will open out. What you find on the nose transfers to the pallet, but with a fresh acidity holding it together. A beautiful texture. This should hold together over the next 10-20 yrs. (Exel's thanks to importer John for this tasting note).

ABV = 14.0%.

£60.35

Springfield Estate Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (1x75cl)

Life from Stone derives its name from the incredibly rocky soils in which it is grown. Every year the vineyard battles against nature in order to produce highly concentrated, powerful wines with a flinty, mineral character true to the quartz rock in which it is grown. Monumental human effort was required to plant the vines – implements destroyed, and, in the case of the older vineyards, even dynamite deployed.

To see an excellent information note and tasting sheet on this wine from the team at Springfield, please click on the blue link below.

Springfield Estate Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2019 - fiche technique

A true expression of the site’s terroir, this wine will drink well now, or can be enjoyed in the next 2-3 years.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Intense, stony, minerally Sauvignon with lime, gooseberry, freshly cut green pepper and passion fruit notes. Zippy, zesty and mouth-watering.

ABV = 12.5%.

£14.45

Springfield Estate Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2018 (1x75cl)

Set in the heart of the mountain-ringed Robertson Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa, Springfield Estate is a family-run wine farm owned by ninth-generation descendants of French Huguenots, who went to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms. The present generation to tend the rocky Springfield soils are brother-and-sister team Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer. The Springfield philosophy is to produce wine as naturally as possible. The winemaking process is kept direct and uncomplicated – the wine is left to make itself, as was done centuries ago. This allows for an honest expression of the estate’s terroir.

True to its moniker, the Wild Yeast Chardonnay is fermented using the native, wild yeasts that occur naturally on the skins of the grapes. Unwooded - no oak is used in the winemaking, it is fermented in underground cement tanks in a slow, volatile process that can take anywhere between 6 – 9 months. This method, although risky, results in incredibly expressive wine with a wisdom that is unattainable in wines made using commercial yeasts. Can be enjoyed for the next 3-4 years.

The grapes were harvested at night in February.  Then tank fermentation took place using only native yeast for 60 days.  Malolactic fermentation was also allowed to occur naturally.  The wine went on to spend just over a year on its lees and was fined using Bentonite before bottling.

See also the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Springfield Estate Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2018 - fiche technique

100% Chardonnay.

This fresh white wine has enticing flavours of pineapple and pear drops. It is deliciously complex in style.

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.25

Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2019 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

Stellenrust was established in 1928 and has ever since produced some of the most superb quality wines that the Stellenbosch region from South Africa can offer. It consists of about 400ha (200ha planted) of which half is stretched over the Golden Triangle area of Stellenbosch, internationally recognised for some of the best red wine soil in South Africa. The other half is situated high up in the Bottelary Hills, renowned for its cool climate and late afternoon sea breezes swooping in from Cape Town to nurture both excellent white and red wines. 

Stellenrust boasts today being one of South Africa's largest family-owned wine estates, carrying through generations of winemaking skills and the legacy of the motto 'where excellence meets winemaking'.

For this Chenin, grapes are harvested from decomposed granite soils and vineyards varying in age (but none younger than 30 years and up to 42 years of age).

Grapes are allowed short skin contact and natural settling in tank. 12% is fermented in 3rd- and 4th-fill French oak barrels and 88% in stainless steel after, which both portions are kept 5 months on the fermentation lees before it is blended and fined. Fermentation is a slow natural process and wild yeast ferments like this can take up to 3 months to finish.

100% Chenin Blanc.

The Stellenrust Chenin Blanc shows strong lime and some tropical fruit on the nose with a mineral palate of grape fruit and pear drop. Stellenrust class it as off-dry, but state its residual sugar to be just 3.4 g/litre, below the level of sugar detection for nearly all palates!

ABV = 13.5%.

£10.30

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

** LAST FEW BOTTLES OF 2018 VINTAGE - 2019 NOW AVAILABLE BEYOND! **

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded a Gold medal and 96 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Nestled between Elim and Cape Agulhas, and just 9km from the sea, lies the secluded Strandveld Vineyards. This wind-swept winery derives its name from the belt of land which spans the tempestuous tip of Africa’s southernmost coastline. At almost 35 degrees below the equator, this part of the Cape is characterised by severe winds, billowing mist and below average temperatures. A unique combination of maritime climate and diverse soil types work together to create the terroir which distinguishes the wines of Strandveld Vineyards.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers a Strandveld.

Strandveld Vineyards First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - fiche technique

87% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Semillon.

Genuine lively fresh nettle and elderflower aromas. Very typical and expressive wine with cool climate Sauvignon notes. Wonderful balance to the fresh, powerful palate.

ABV = 12.5%.

£12.15

Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their December 2019 edition article, The Best 30 Cape Wines Under £20 (see blue link below).

Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2017 - December 2019 Decanter review

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Big open skies, arid deserts, the vast flowing landscape, with its unforgiving climate and rugged bush vines, this is wild country, this is Swartland. The contrast with manicured Constantia and oh-so-cool Stellenbosch couldn't be greater. But right now, Swartland is the most exciting wine region in South Africa. A new wave of winemakers are making ground-breaking wines from Rhône varietals and it is part of a revolution that has got everybody talking. The Swartland Winery is producing iconic and award winning wines in this fashionable and dynamic region, so we have joined forces with them to create a unique, distinctive and expressive wine range that has been masterfully blended for the UK palate. We think something this good, is definitely worth talking about!

The Swartland name originates from a description of the indigenous renosterbos or rhino bush, which appears to turn black, ("Swart" in Afrikaans), during the summer months. This hot, dry climate has an average temperature range of 25°C to 35°C and an annual rainfall of 450 mm and 600mm, but the altitude of these vineyards creates a cool oasis in this arid landscape. Minimal intervention and environmentally friendly farming practices are paramount. The soil types vary, but Malmesbury Shale dominates, with small patches of granite and Table Mountain sandstone. The gravel substructure of the soil promotes good moisture retention, essential in this hot, dry climate. The grapes came from a single vineyard, from 100% bush vines with an age range of between 25 to 30 years.

The berries were harvested at optimal phenolic ripeness. An extended skin contact was applied and fermentation took place at 13°C. The wine underwent an extended fine lees contact, following fermentation. The wine was aged in second and third fill French oak barrels for a period of six months, prior to being filtered and bottled.

Chenin Blanc 100%.

For more detail, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Swartland Winery Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2018 - fiche technique

A full flavoured and classic Chenin Blanc with rich aromas of lemon, apple and vanilla wafer over a creamy texture. Forthcoming aromas of dried fruit, peach, apricot and citrus hints follow through on to a creamy palate. A crisp, well balanced and intense wine, with dried fruit, almond and citrus flavours underpinned by beautifully integrated oak and a creamy finish.

This wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.70

Thelema Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of South African Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Stellenbosch 2014 - April 2017 Decanter review

Cabernet may be its trump card, but the origins of Thelema owe more to the wines of Burgundy than Bordeaux: it was a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet that lured Gyles Webb away from accountancy in Durban to winemaking in Stellenbosch. Armed with a winemaking degree and influenced by travels in Tuscany, Bordeaux and California, Gyles and his wife Barbara – a noted triathlete – bought Thelema, an old fruit farm high on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountain, in 1983.

This is the wilder side of Stellenbosch, where spotted leopards roam the vines and a combination of elevation and eucalyptus trees creates a much-prized style of Cabernet with a distinctively minty freshness. These days Gyles is Cellar Master, with the talented Schultz brothers (Rudi and Werner) responsible for the winemaking and vineyards respectively. But the philosophy remains true to Gyles’ original vision, centred on the principle of what he calls ‘benign neglect’ – minimal fining and filtration, and no use of commercial yeasts in the red wines. True too to the Thelema name, taken from the idealised concept of a new world order imagined by 16th century French monk, physician and writer Rabelais.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay.

For the full data sheet and technical information from the winemakers themselves, click the blue link below.

Thelema Chardonnay 2016 - fiche technique

Aromas of ripe peach, grapefruit marmalade, blossoms and complex yeasty flavours complement the toasty oak in the wine. The palate is clean with a lovely texture and long finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£15.40

Thelema Chardonnay 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of South African Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Stellenbosch 2014 - April 2017 Decanter review

Cabernet may be its trump card, but the origins of Thelema owe more to the wines of Burgundy than Bordeaux: it was a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet that lured Gyles Webb away from accountancy in Durban to winemaking in Stellenbosch. Armed with a winemaking degree and influenced by travels in Tuscany, Bordeaux and California, Gyles and his wife Barbara – a noted triathlete – bought Thelema, an old fruit farm high on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountain, in 1983.

This is the wilder side of Stellenbosch, where spotted leopards roam the vines and a combination of elevation and eucalyptus trees creates a much-prized style of Cabernet with a distinctively minty freshness. These days Gyles is Cellar Master, with the talented Schultz brothers (Rudi and Werner) responsible for the winemaking and vineyards respectively. But the philosophy remains true to Gyles’ original vision, centred on the principle of what he calls ‘benign neglect’ – minimal fining and filtration, and no use of commercial yeasts in the red wines. True too to the Thelema name, taken from the idealised concept of a new world order imagined by 16th century French monk, physician and writer Rabelais.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay.

For the full data sheet and technical information from the winemakers themselves, click the blue link below.

Thelema Chardonnay 2017 - fiche technique

Aromas of ripe peach, grapefruit marmalade, blossoms and complex yeasty flavours complement the toasty oak in the wine. The palate is clean with a lovely texture and long finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£15.95

Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (1x 75cl)

Cabernet may be its trump card, but the origins of Thelema owe more to the wines of Burgundy than Bordeaux: it was a bottle of Puligny-Montrachet that lured Gyles Webb away from accountancy in Durban to winemaking in Stellenbosch. Armed with a winemaking degree and influenced by travels in Tuscany, Bordeaux and California, Gyles and his wife Barbara – a noted triathlete – bought Thelema, an old fruit farm high on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountain, in 1983.

This is the wilder side of Stellenbosch, where spotted leopards roam the vines and a combination of elevation and eucalyptus trees creates a much-prized style of Cabernet with a distinctively minty freshness. These days Gyles is Cellar Master, with the talented Schultz brothers (Rudi and Werner) responsible for the winemaking and vineyards respectively. But the philosophy remains true to Gyles’ original vision, centred on the principle of what he calls ‘benign neglect’ – minimal fining and filtration, and no use of commercial yeasts in the red wines. True too to the Thelema name, taken from the idealised concept of a new world order imagined by 16th century French monk, physician and writer Rabelais.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

For the full data sheet and technical information from the winemakers themselves, click the blue link below.

Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - fiche technique

A typical Thelema Sauvignon Blanc – lovely fresh melon and grapefruit flavours, with a full, zesty palate, all in perfect balance.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.70

Stellar Organics Running Duck Chenin Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

The Running Duck range is made by Stellar Organics – the pioneer winery from Western South Africa. The wines are certified organic and have also been made according to “Fair for life” guidelines. This social & fair trade certification ensures that human rights are guaranteed at any stage of production, that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and that smallholder farmers receive a fair price.

The brand is named after the Indian Runners ducks sent roaming into the vineyards to eat snails and other threats to the vines. This is natural pest control and allows the winery not to use pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

This is a delicate example of the native French grape that South Africa has made its own. There are subtle aromas of stone fruits and melon. It develops nicely on the palate, releasing flavours of almond and white peach. The fullness of the fruit is balanced by a nice clean acidity which leaves a long, crisp refreshing finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£8.50
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