While we were all caught up in the effervescent afterglow of our (much humbler) New Year celebrations, bunches of grapes in the Cape’s vineyards swelled and ripened in the summer heat. And beneath their soils, in the ferment-fragranced cellars, wines that had been previously laid down to mature for a year or more were being awakened by human hands, finally ready for market. With the new year comes a new vintage of wine and here are some that we are most excited about in 2021.
Ernie Els Proprietors Blend 2017
From the world-famous terroir of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg region, and the lauded hands of winemaking legend, Louis Strydom, comes the powerful and expressive, yet impeccably balanced Ernie Els Proprietors Blend 2017. This wine is a seamless union of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, all grown on the Ernie Els estate, and delivers complex aromas of pure cassis, meat, and oak spice. Its well-integrated fruit centre is underscored by dense, yet finely-tuned tannins and culminates in a long-defined finish.
Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Since joining Steenberg Vineyards in June 2019 as cellarmaster and general manager, Elunda Basson has had designs on producing top-tier Sauvignon Blanc. This came to fruition this year with her proud debut of the Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2020. The cool climate Constantia Valley is an Eden for this grape varietal, and the unique terroir embracing the historic Steenberg farm is lovingly expressed in the wine with its zesty complexity, distinctive mineral core, and piquant bouquet of fresh Cape gooseberries, nettles, capsicum, and white blossom.
Kleine Zalze Family Reserve New Vintage
Kleine Zalze, Platter’s 2021 Winery of the Year, is said to have made its most resounding release to date with the most recent vintage of the Kleine Zalze Family Reserve range. This range of four wines combines two of South Africa’s most exciting vintages (2019 for Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc; 2017 for Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz) with a winemaking talent that coaxes the best possible expression from these cultivars. “We only produce these wines in exceptional vintages and we make them in limited quantities,” says winemaker RJ Botha.
Tokara Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Carpeting the southern slopes of the Simonsberg in Stellenbosch, the vineyards of Tokara have, for centuries, produced wines of an exceptional calibre. This tradition continues boldly with the most recent release of the estate’s Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 by winemaker Stuart Botha, who came to Tokara in 2017 after a decade of award-winning winemaking in Constantia. This full-bodied, richly textured red wine delivers a nose of graphite, briary fruits, five-spice, and a hint of dried porcini, and mouthfuls of dark cherry, red currant, and fynbos scrub.
Perdeberg Dry Land Collection
The award-winning Perdeberg Dry Land range is liquid proof that tough, inhospitable conditions can yield the most beautiful fruit. Consisting of an old vine barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, naturally sweet Chenin, and a red and white blend, each wine in this range is a testament to the endurance of these “dry land” vineyards. Under the discerning eye of Perdeberg cellarmaster Albertus Louw, the Dry Land Collection has been made in a new-world style with complexity and ample fruit and structure, while remaining value-conscious.
Stellenzicht Acheulean Chardonnay 2020
There’s been a renaissance at Stellenzicht, which spills over the foothills of the Helderberg within the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley. Recently, the farm underwent an extensive vine re-planting programme, during which ancient Acheulean hand-axes were discovered. And this inspired winemaker L’Ré Burger’s new, premier quality wine range. Fermented in clay amphorae with a portion given time in 500-litre barrels, the finely curated Stellenzicht Acheulean Chardonnay 2020 exhibits a playful nose of fresh stone fruit and citrus, and a palate of zesty minerality, acidity, and delicate oak.
The Acheulean range includes their 2018 Red.