Sijnn Wines - a new beginning and a new wine ward
At the end of a long, dusty and bumpy road, in the middle of nowhere near Malgas on the Breede River, David and Rita Trafford have pioneered a wine farm and breathed vinous life into a new terroir.
David’s De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 was named Platter’s Red Wine of the Year in the latest guide and three of his Sijnn wines were each awarded 4.5 stars. David has made wine for the past 20 years in Stellenbosch and his search for excellence and something new, interesting and unique led him to this new beginning - and this year the wine made from grapes grown in the Malgas ward will be pressed on site for the first time.
The Sijnn estate, (pronounced “sane”), is situated on what David calls an “amazing stony plateau with incredible soils” which he discovered after a visit to the area in 2000. After months of drilling and soil research, he found exactly the spot he needed for his vines. Most of the Sijnn vineyards are based on alluvial soils comprised of pudding stones and Bokkeveld shale – these very poor, complex soils encourage a deep root system, low growth and low yield giving rise to intense, complex wines of great individual character.
A great deal of thought has gone into the varieties planted, not only to ensure quality fruit from classic cultivars, but a selection of warm-country varieties planted in this cool climate region also takes global warming into account.
Touriga Nacional and Rousanne spearhead the unusual cultivars used in current wines but there are exciting tastes to look forward to with the future plantings of Grenache Noir, Grenache Peluda and Tempranillo (to name a few of the red varietals) and white varietals Assyrtiko, Verdelho, Grenach Blanc and Marsanne
These are the only vineyards within a 40 km radius and thus the raison d’être for the establishment of the Malgas ward in 2010.
Natural farming with hand picking, suckering and sorting, no pesticides and minimum fungicides are the order of the day. The winemaking too is as organic as possible with indigenous yeasts, minimum sulphur additions and no filtration. All the wines are barrel fermented and matured in French Oak.
Now the only trick is to get hold of a bottle! I was hoping to taste the Sijnn White 2012 (Chenin Blanc and Viognier) (Platter 4.5 stars) but local wine shops were out of stock. The range includes the White, Saignee (Barrel matured Rose made from Syrah, Mouvedre and Trincadeira), Red (flagship red blend), Low Profile (a red blend), Syrah and Touriga Nacional. There is also a Cabernet Sauvignon but only 2 barrels so this is very hard to get your hands on. Wine Rack in Riviersonderend is the only one to stock this.
Visit the website for more info: www.sijnn.co.za
Stockists include Wine Village, Wine Barrel in Kleinmond, Wine Rack in Riviersonderend and the Houw Hoek and Peregrine Farm Stalls.
Glynis van Rooyen
Editor Overberg Wine
Do you have a burning desire to celebrate World Environment Day, World Oceans Day and Mother’s Day with a good glass of wine? Here’s how to do just that and contribute to the conservation of all three – the environment, the ocean and mother’s happiness!
Make a wine weekend of it - take a short drive through Stanford and out the other end, along the river to Mosaic Farm where you have a choice of staying overnight in the luxury lagoon-side lodge or in self catering cottages alongside the Spookhuis. Either way, you will feel as though you’re in another world and you will not have to drive after dinner!
The Spookhuis was built in 1892 from massive limestone blocks quarried from the farm and then bought and restored by Kathryn and Reese Johnson in 2002 after it had been abandoned for nearly 50 years. Today it is one of the most splendid manor houses of the region and, most importantly, it has a superb wine cellar. This is literally a cellar – an underground room used for storing things – in the late 1890’s it was used to store cheese and milk and today it is a perfect wine cellar, cool and oozing atmosphere. It has a most unusual moat on two sides – one of which was used to accommodate a wagon that could be rolled down to load and unload the cheese and milk.
Start the weekend with a wine tasting – this cellar is well stocked with a selection of wines from the Overberg – naturally the wines of Springfontein, the neighbourhood vineyards, feature prominently, as do Stanford Hills and Raka, both from this wine pocket. The wine list will please the most discerning palate as it offers several vintages of excellent wines including some of the best from Hemel-en-Aarde, Elgin and Elim, in a mouth-watering selection. (For example, Luddite Shiraz 2004!!) If you stay at the Lodge, a delectable dinner is served with wines to complement the dishes; if you prefer self catering but do not want to cook, just arrange for a dinner-basket, braai-basket and breakfast-basket from the deli at The Spookhuis to be delivered to your cottage, along with that special bottle of wine. Sit back, relax and enjoy the unspoilt environment of this delightful private nature reserve – a toast to World Environment Day will not be out of place.
To celebrate World Oceans Day, head for De Hoop, a nature and marine reserve just down the road past Bredasdorp. There’s always something happening at De Hoop – walks, talks, photography workshops, Yoga workshops, weddings, conferences and loads of birding. An inter-tidal walk with a guide reveals a myriad of secrets about the ocean and is quite a challenge as there are delicious sea foods all around that may not be collected or eaten! The Fig Tree Restaurant at the reserve is fortunately the answer to this problem and is central to the wide variety of accommodation on the reserve – from elegant luxury in the Manor House or recently renovated Melkkamer, to comfortable, well equipped self catering cottages. At the Fig Tree one can toast and taste the bountiful ocean with wines from the windblown L’Agulhas Plain, bordering the reserve. Black Oyster Catcher wines from Elim, Strandveld wine and of course the Fynbos beauties of Lomond are all terroir driven wines that are perfect for World Oceans Day. And a glass of any one of these will make Mother’s Day just perfect.
How fortunate we are to be surrounded with so many nature reserves and at the same time be able to celebrate with wines grown and made right here.
Glynis van Rooyen. Editor, Overberg Wine Guide.
Bot River bares all at Barrels & Beards 2013
The wine route’s best post-harvest beards and wines revealed
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Wine beauties meet hairy beasts when the colourful wine community of Bot River sets the stage for its annual Barrels & Beards celebration to toast the local winemakers’ post-harvest looks and latest fruits of their labour on Saturday, 20 April 2013.
Each year the laidback wine folk of this prized yet unspoilt Winelands pocket in the Overberg, follow a tradition of ‘no shaving or barber visits for the duration of the harvest season’, only to reveal their scruffy facades during a fun-filled ‘beard parade’. And this year’s event promises one big hairy hullabaloo.
Along with esteemed judges, guests will get to vote for the boldest beard in Bot River and sharing the spotlight with raging beards and monster mo’s will be the latest 2013 cellar gems to be sipped and savoured straight from the barrels.
“We only get one chance a year to make the best wines we can and we invite enthusiasts to come and rub shoulders with our winemakers as we flaunt our whiskers and wines,” shares winemaker Sebastian Beaumont of Beaumont Estate.
The quaint Bot River Wine Route is home to an eclectic bouquet of conservation-conscious wineries ranging from historic and time-honoured to ultra modern, state of the art cellars that are all committed to individualistic, quality-driven wines. Joining Beaumont at this joyous occasion will be Barton, Eerstehoop, Feiteiras, Gabriëlskloof, Genevieve, Goedvertrouw, Luddite, Maremanna, Rivendell and Wildekrans.
“At the Barrels & Beards evening we pay tribute to the pampering that went into our wines and not ourselves over the past few months,” adds bubbly beaut Melissa Nelsen, proprietor of Genevieve Cap Classique.
This exclusive evening includes a hearty ‘terroir to table’ potjiekos dinner of unique tastes and produce from the area, whilst cool-climate, top quality wines from more than eight local producers will be on sale. The ‘boereorkes’, Die Stoepsitters, will add sakkie-sakkie vibes to this homegrown affair.
Barrels & Beards 2013 takes place at The Old Shed at Anysbos Farm on the Swartrivier Road, Bot River and starts at 5pm. A shuttle service will be available on the evening in support of responsible drinking.
If last year’s sell-out inaugural Barrels & Beards event is anything to go by, tickets will be flying fast so make sure you get hold of yours today. Tickets costs R250 per person and include a complimentary barrel tasting of the latest Bot River wines, a souvenir wine glass, dinner, music entertainment and real country hospitality.
For more information or to book your tickets contact Nicolene Heyns at email@example.com or call 082 852 6547. Seating is limited and no kids are allowed.
Whale Talk Feb 2013 Interns
International energy is flowing into our wine at every harvest with dozens of young winemakers and oenologists from around the globe pouring their knowledge into the mix!
This is always such an exciting – and exacting – time for winemakers and cellars around the Cape – anxious days watching the weather, checking the grapes daily for the optimum time to pick and then nursing the bunches through the vinification process. It demands intense concentration and input at times and this is why the practise of “importing” interns for the harvest has become such an important and common aspect of the harvest here and elsewhere in the world.
Ask any young winemaker or viticulturist and they will more than likely have spent a season or two assisting at a harvest elsewhere in the wine world, learning, providing that trained eye over the harvest and sharing their own knowledge.
“Sharing” is the key word, I discovered when I chatted to a few of the interns currently assisting at cellars in our region.
Médéric Hauchard’s eyes sparkle with delight as he talks about his current tenure at Gabrielskloof. He is from Alsace, France, and it is his third harvest in the region, the two previous harvests were with Newton John in the upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
“Everyone shares their knowledge and their experience freely and with passion – from the permanent local winemakers to every intern,” he says,.
Médéric finds the difference between Gabrielskloof and Newton Johnson so distinct - two micro-climates that can be compared to different terroirs in France. Also the different cultivars grown here are an innovation for him as he is leading winemaker at a Riesling-only cellar.
One of the biggest differences in the winemaking methods of Alsace and South Africa is the treatment of oxygen, he says. “In Alsace we work with oxygen, here you work against oxygen all the time, it must be removed – now I can share my lack of fear of oxygen in the process!”
South Africans are NOT serious wine drinkers, he proclaims, not judging by the number of people per capita who drink wine!
Peter Thelen, from Cologne, Germany, is in the country for the first time and has recently completed his Master of Science in Viticulture and Oenology. He hails from a small winery in the Mosel Valley and is keen to learn as much about managing the different cultivars here during harvest as possible. “The people are all very friendly, the winemakers are open about everything, there are no secrets and we share all our knowledge to improve the final product, the wine”, he says.
Almost all the interns have come to the local cellars with excellent qualifications and many of them considerable experience in wine cellars or in vineyards. Thomas Krecht from Burgenland, Austria, has studied for four years and is busy with his Master Class in winemaking. He works on his uncle’s winery, Gesellman, with very different cultivars like Zweigel, St Laurent and Blaufränkish.
Ferdie Coetsee is Onrus born and bred and is also an intern at Gabrielskloof! He has almost completed his studies in Wellington and this is his first harvest. The advantage of working at a cellar in this region is that the interns have the opportunity of tackling a wide variety of tasks and are not assigned to one post only.
Almost every cellar in the Overberg has an intern or two assisting at the harvest and of course, getting to know each other and the communities they are working in. This cross-pollination of ideas and practices is a great, international melting pot and getting to know the local people and cultures is as important to them as making good wine!
So next time you sip a glass of good wine in a bar or restaurant contemplate_main the many hands and heads that have created the miracle in your glass! Cheers!
Glynis van Rooyen
Giving gifts and giving beyond gifts…
It’s that time of the year and we’re all looking for the ideal gift to give to our loved ones so here’s a way to give a gift that goes far beyond satisfying the first need AND it will reward you with an elegant evening of wining and dining!
Buy yourself and your beloved tickets to the 17th Hermanus Round Table Pinotage Auction and treat yourselves to a superior meal at The Class Room on 21 December. Then buy a case or two of Pinotage from the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage 2012 collection on sale at the auction (which you can dish out as gifts or put on the Christmas dining table); AND you will be contributing to charity and making life a whole lot better for children in our region. So the gifting goes well beyond your own needs and enjoyment.
The Pinotage Auction is the main fundraiser for the Hermanus Round Table and is always a fabulous evening of wine and food. The wines are available for tasting from 17:30 and the auction commences at 19:00 and continues between courses of a gourmet meal designed by Master Chef Kevin Warwick to complement the Pinotage wines to be served.
The wines on auction are aimed at wine lovers and collectors and will include unique Pinotages that are not readily available to the public (some not even obtainable at the cellars any more). Some of the cellars who have already donated wines for the auction are Slaley, Longridge, Swartland Cellar, Beyerskloof, Southern Right, Landskroon, Stanford Hills, Wine Cellar, Lyngrove, Grangehurst, Long Mountain and Raka.
The Pinotage story: It almost did not happen, the four seedlings were almost lost!
Briefly, Professor Izak Perold returned from Europe with no less than 177 different grape varietals to experiment with and improve the quality of local vines. Why he chose to cross Pinot Noir, the prince of French red varietals with the humble Hermitage (perhaps because the latter performed so well under local conditions?) is a mystery as he left no notes. He only produced four seeds from this crossing and they were planted in his own garden (after being grafted onto selected rootstock) at Welgevallen where he could keep an eye on them. Then, while he was away his garden had to be “cleaned up” and his four Pinotage vines were nearly lost to posterity.
It wasn’t until 1987 when the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year awards featured Pinotage as the varietal, that the grape started receiving the recognition it deserved. Beyers Truter of Kanonkop won the Winemaker of the Year award and sent collectors scuttling back to their cellars to taste the old bottles of Pinotage they had stored. It was a pleasant awakening!
Kanonkop was responsible for the next giant leap forward for Pinotage when their wine won the Robert Mondavi Trophy for the best red wine at the 1991 International Wine Show in London, and Beyers Truter was crowned International Winemaker of the Year.
The Pinotage Association of South Africa has taken on the task of seeking excellence in this wine and the ABSA Top 10 celebrates the best of every harvest.
The Hermanus Round Table Pinotage Auction gives everyone the opportunity to buy the best of this now noble variety and give back to charity at the same time!
Price: R250.00 per person which includes tasting, table wine and a three course gourmet meal. Tickets are available from any member of the Hermanus Round Table or contact Jaco Brand on 083-3704845 / Jurie Steenekamp on 082-8708226.
Apple wine! Not really new as it is usually known as cider, but try the fruit of an exciting joint venture between Mark Stanford of Windermere farm in Elgin and Tamsin Stephens of Windermere Cider. Master cider maker Andre le Roux has made a full-bodied, off-dry and golden-coloured cider, rich in tannins and flavonoids, fermented from pure pressed apple juice and selected yeast strains. With its green aromas, fruity flavours and champagne-style bubbles, Windermere Cider is an ideal drink shared between friends and especially at Christmas time!
HAPPY FESTIVE SEASON!
Glynis van Rooyen
Editor Overberg Wine
Whale Talk R320
Take a break from the buzz and visit the Hermanus Wine Route, R320, up the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley….
This is no ordinary wine route, it is an opportunity to enjoy the very best pinot noirs and chardonnays in the country whilst soaking up the most spectacular views and the fresh, sumptuous caress of Spring.
The claims to cool, maritime breezes that result in slow ripening and intense flavours in the grapes can be physically felt in the valley, and the spectacular views of the sea from many cellars provide the proof that the claims are not idle chatter.
The many awards that have been won by these cellars and the accolades that are heaped on winemakers are further proof that this IS heaven on earth for these cultivars.
Of course there are other cultivars – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Merlot, Shiraz, Viognier and even Riesling that have earned the respect and dedicated enjoyment of experts and general imbibers. The valley has also earned stars and gold for innovative blends – the Italians (Nebbilio, Barbera, Sangiovese), the Cape Bordeaux, Shiraz/Grenache, Chardonnay/Semillon, Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier….
The “new” cellar to visit is Seven Springs, at the furthest end of the Hemel-en-Aarde and perhaps a good place to start your wine tasting, (call for an appointment as the cellar door is not yet open to the public) and then work your way back to town.
The most varied and exciting wine-tasting experience is offered at Creation where the art of food and wine pairing has been perfected. Other options here are a Vineyard Safari (a walk in the vineyards accompanied by lessons on viticulture and culminating in a delightful meal overlooking the vines), a mystery food and wine pairing, a chocolate and wine pairing and even the opportunity to make your own blend and take that special bottle home with your label on it. A big plus at this cellar is they cater for children – there’s a special room with little people furniture and toys to make sure they are happy.
Ataraxia is an art-and-wine experience in a “chapel” cellar, Spookfontein’s tasting room is not quite finished yet but spend a night in the cottage and experience life in vineyard surrounds; Newton Johnson offers seascapes, art and Heaven, a fine dining restaurant; Sumaridge combines tastings with magnificent views, a restaurant and water fowl on the trout dam. Their al fresco picnic lunches are divine on a hot summer’s day under the trees next to the dam; La Vierge is sensual from start to finish, the entrance over the wine cellar, the astonishing view of the valley, seductive wine labels and delicious aromas from the restaurant (loos with the best view in the world); Bouchard Finlayson with its manicured gardens feels like an African version of a French chateaux and the wines are legendary; Hamilton Russell Vineyards is where it all started and the atmosphere lends itself to reflection and appreciation of what has been achieved; Southern Right is a beautiful cellar and home to the only Pinotage in the valley; Whalehaven and Hermanuspietersfontein are at the entrance to the valley and both offer an outstanding tasting experience in modern, state-of-the-art tasting rooms. Hermanuspietersfontein’s Saturday market is a great place to rendezvous and taste the best fare from the countryside.
If you cannot get to the cellars at all, or missed out buying a bottle you wished you had, stop in at Wine Village where all the wines of the valley are stocked!
Glynis van Rooyen
Editor, Overberg Wine.
Join us on our Facebook page or visit our website for more information on all the cellars of the Overberg. www.overbergwine.co.za
POSITIVE RESPONSE ALL ROUND
Jacqui, Villiersdorp Tourism
WINE TASTING TIME….
Barrels, Beards and Biodiversity.
All the grapes are in cellars around the Western Cape and by the sounds of the noises the winemakers are making, 2012 has been a vintage that we can all look forward to drinking! Volumes are up on last year and so is quality, thanks to a most kind and generous Mother Nature – the heat was not too excessive (although it felt like an oven at times) and did not last too long, and the rains came when they should, and the growing period was long and generally cooler, giving the vines time to produce intense flavours in the berries.
The rest is over to the winemakers and, now that we can see the Bot River bunch without their beards again, we can see they are smiling. The annual Bot River Barrels & Beards event was a thumping good party to celebrate the end of the harvest, give the winemakers an opportunity to show off their first 2012 wines directly from the barrel and also the beards they grew during the harvesting season. I wonder what will happen when we have a lady winemaker in the Bot pocket??
The evening was delightful as usual among the friendly folk of this area and the melt- in-the-mouth spit-braai, salads and home-made breads (all ingredients from the Bot River area including the piggies from Luddite) was just excellent – another reflection of the depth of talent and passion there is in this corner of the Overberg.
On the opposite side of the region, only 8km from the wild waves of the Atlantic and in the teeth of some chilly sea winds, is Lomond, where wine and biodiversity have a passionate relationship. To highlight the location of the vineyards within a wealth of exquisite Fynbos, winemaker Wayne Gabb has named all his wines after different species of Fynbos found on the property, like Pincushion, Sugarbush, Snowbush, Coneybosh and Cat’s Tail.
The most exciting thing about Lomond right now is that Wayne can reflect on the unusual accolade of having four wines within the SA Top 100 Wines 2012 list. His Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Single Vineyard Coneybush Syrah 2008, Single Vineyard SB Pincusion 2011 and Single Vineyard Sugarbush 2010 were all included in this prestigious list.
Several other Overberg cellars made it onto the list, but none with four wines! Congrats go to Lomond and to Sumaridge, Wildekrans, Elgin Vintners, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Elgin Heights and Paul Cluver wines.
Keep warm this winter, sip a little red wine!
Glynis VAN Rooyen
Editor, OVERBERG WINE.
Visit our Facebook page for all the Beards and Barrels!