Forget about looking for the gabled manor house and sprawling vineyards… the winemakers behind these three “secret cellars” are crafting superb wines without a patch of soil to call their own.
Breaking the cliche
There’s a cliche in the winelands of the sprawling estate and tree-lined driveway, acres of manicured vines carpeting the hillsides and a gleaming tasting room to welcome visitors. There’s no shortage of those, and many produce world-class wines, but some of the most interesting wines on the shelf of your local wine boutique may not have a “home” to call their own.
Picking the perfect batch
Buying in grapes from farms across the Western Cape, these so-called négociant winemakers are able to cherry-pick the vineyards that express just the right terroir, and allow established winemakers to dabble in interesting blends.
Duncan Savage is a perfect example of this. A member of the esteemed Cape Winemakers Guild and cellarmaster at Cape Point Vineyards, under his own Savage Wines label he has sought out superb older vineyards to craft a small range of limited-release wines. His blends are the ones to look for: particularly Follow The Line which marries Cinsaut, Grenache and Syrah from Piekenierskloof and Darling vineyards into a full-bodied yet silky blend that’ll keep for at least a decade. The barrel-fermented White blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Villiersdorp is also a stunner.
Trizanne Barnard Signature Wines
Trizanne Barnard is also adept at these two varieties, sourcing the white wine grapes for her Trizanne Signature Wines from cool-climate vineyards near Elim. The elegant Sauvignon-Semillon and Syrah-Grenache blends in her TSW range offer good value, but also look out for the Reserve Syrah. Grapes were sourced from three separate Elim vineyards to showcase just what cool-climate Syrah can offer.
Thinus Krüger Fram Wines
At Fram Wines – named for the ship that took explorer Roald Amundsen to claim the South Pole in 1911 – winemaker Thinus Krüger is similarly embracing the spirit of exploration. Grapes are sourced from vineyards across the Western Cape, each parcel chosen for its specific terroir. For the Chenin Blanc from mountain vineyards near Clanwilliam that means fresh acidity and complexity thanks to the sandy soils and altitude, while the calcium-rich soils of Robertson give his unwooded Chardonnay a delicious minerality. Shiraz, from selected Swartland vineyards, is also worth a taste.
Trizanne Signature Wines
Words: Richard Holmes