Waterkloof Winemaker Nadia Barnard with estate owner Paul Boutinot

Many of the great, long-lived Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignons of the 1950s, 60s and 70s conspired over a secret ingredient. Cinsault was hidden within the wines without mention on the label, lending elegance and perfume to these Cape classics. Sadly, this fine and most regal of reds was later dethroned by more bombastic, yet unworthy usurpers – until now. The Revenant Red celebrates the glorious rebirth of a South African classic.

Unfurling an abundance of vibrant red fruit in the glass such as red berries and blueberries, the wine shows hints of perfume and dark chocolate. It is gentle and elegant on the palate, reflecting infinite balance to the very end of its long finish.

Revenant gets his name from the term describing one returned from death or long absence.

“The red variety for which Stellenbosch is famous for, is Cabernet Sauvignon. What most people don’t know though, is that Cinsault used to play a major role in many well-known South African Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blends,” says winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger. “These elegant wines inspired us to create our revitalised rendition of a quality blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault.”

Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard
Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard

This inaugural vintage of Revenant Red was produced for False Bay Vineyards at Waterkloof.

It was preceded by a white blend of Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc and a wine with a special link to False Bay Vineyards, being the very same blend as the first white wine made by owner Paul Boutinot in France back in 1984.

It was made in the traditional way, hallmarked by spontaneous fermentation and minimal intervention. Since then, whether making wine in France or South Africa, Paul’s winemaking philosophy never wavered, with tradition upheld.

It endured as Paul’s path led to South Africa where in 1994 he founded False Bay Vineyards and later in 2004, his biodynamic vineyard Waterkloof.

Revenant White celebrated the glorious rebirth of a lost soul (Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc is now rarely blended in France) in new lands, whilst Revenant Red heralds the return of a long-lost Western Cape classic.

The Western Cape of South Africa, a wondrous place with over 350 years of winemaking history, whose traditions are now being rediscovered: Young winemakers returning to the old ways. A renaissance and recognition of the importance of naturally balanced grapes; of minimal intervention winemaking; of old wood, concrete tanks and the beauty of the blend. Revenant encapsulates this rebirth of tradition and the spirit of ‘new wave’ South African wine.

Revenant Red 2017More about Revenant Red 2017

The Cinsault grapes originate from a bush vine block that is approximately 35 to 40 years old. It is situated about eight kilometres from the ocean and produces very low yields due to its age and because it is unirrigated.

The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards also overlook False Bay and are 10 to 15 years old. Various blocks were used – some approximately 250m above sea-level and some lower down.

The Cabernet Sauvignon was de-stemmed and slow fermented, using the natural yeast from the vineyard. It only received a maximum of two punch-downs or pump-overs per day to avoid over extraction.

The Cinsault underwent three-day, whole-bunch carbonic fermentation after which it was foot-stomped twice daily, to gently extract only the finest juice over a longer period.

The two varieties were aged separately for nine months; the Cinsault in older 600L barrels and the Cabernet Sauvignon in 225L barrels with no new oak.

The wine was then blended to older 600L barrels and matured for another year before bottling. The wines are un-fined, only receiving a basic filtration prior to bottling.

The result is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cinsault that shows off the beautiful complex fruit of the cooler Helderberg region, but also caresses the palate with a soft and integrated tannin profile.

Revenant Red is available at Waterkloof at R100 a bottle and can be found on the wine lists of some of South Africa’s finest restaurants.

For more information about Waterkloof visit www.waterkloofwines.co.za or follow @WaterkloofWines on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.