Words: Richard Holmes
When launching the new range late last year, Johan Malan, cellar master of the family-owned property in the shadow of the Simonsberg, says “It’s an historic occasion for us to launch a new label, a new brand and a new range of wines.”
And for a family with no shortage of vinous innovation behind them, “The Grapesmith” is certainly an apt name for the new duo of wines.
“The role of a winemaker is to be a grapesmith, you take the wines and ‘smith’ them into something. It’s a creative process,” says Johan.
The pair of wines that launch the new range were inspired by a working visit to the “Rhône Rangers” of Paso Robles south of San Francisco. Johan returned enthused about the white varietals of roussanne and marsanne. Native to the southern reaches of the Rhône valley in France, these Mediterranean cultivars are ideally suited to the Cape Winelands, where the trend is towards warmer temperatures and drier winters.
First released for the Cape Winemakers’ Guild auction, Die Kluisenaar – “The Hermit” in Afrikaans – is a tip of the hat to the famed Hermitage region of the Rhône valley, and is a classic blend of roussanne and marsanne, the grapes harvested from cool vineyards overlooking False Bay and high on the slopes of the Simonsberg. Fermented in barrel, using only wild yeasts, the end result is a golden wine with superb palate weight and texture. Slightly chilled, it’s a perfect pairing with smoked poultry, goat’s cheese and seafood.
As impressive, is the Mediterraneo, where Malan pays tribute to the Mediterranean climate of the Cape Winelands. Just two barrels of this unique wine were made in the 2016 vintage, with grenache blanc and verdelho layered on a similar foundation of roussanne and marsanne. The oak is subtle here, with plenty of acidity and freshness making this a fine pairing for seafood, cheeses and poultry.
Both wines are available from cellar door and selected restaurants.
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