B. Vintners is a collaboration between Bruwer Raats, whose family was amongst the first Dutch settlers, and his cousin Gavin. The Raats family has always been based in Stellenbosch, and this project was created to show some of the special sites and areas of Stelly — much like they saw the Swartland Independents doing — through minimal intervention. This is old vine Pinotage on decomposed granite soils at altitude, and close to the ocean in Bottelary Hills. An earlier pick, wild ferment, light extraction and gentle elevate (14 months in oak, 10% new) has provided a crisp, fresh and crunchy Pinotage, one that pours a medium cherry hue and is full of wild raspberries, pomegranate, herbal plum, fynbos scrub. Tannins are fine, sapid-lined and the finish is bright. Chill this expressive light red slightly for a maximum enjoyment.
The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc is from a high-altitude area (750 metres) in the far North Western Cape, Olifants River Region, Citrusdal Mountain District and in the ward of Piekenierskloof. It's here that one of RSA's star winemakers, Donovan Rall, is drawing the 70-year-old bush vines, a single plot “lost” in a fringe region far better known for cultivating Rooibos tea plants. From the stellar 2015 vintage, this was wild fermented and half aged in older wood barrels. Savoury crushed stones and bristling herb salts (rooibos?) on a creamy, lightly oily palate, possibly aided by the addition of 15 percent Grenache blanc this vintage. Pear and yellow apple fruits charm, while bright citrus acidity lifts. Well-made and well-priced, this is a wine well-worth adding to your Chenin kit.
Medium straw in colour with a nose of quince and honey and a gentle minerally note lifted with a floral tone; medium-bodied dry, with pear, quince and melon flavours.
Fine dark fruit melds with aromas of earthy mushroom and sooty, lightly smoky notes on the nose. Blackberry and secondary blackcurrant kick in on the palate with firm tannins and balanced acidity, finishing firm and dry.
This is South Africa’s most popular Sauvignon Blanc under a new package. It has a nose of melon, tropical fruits, acacia and herbs. It’s balanced on the palate, a friendly white, with an array of apple, melon, pear and guava with refreshing acidity. Enjoyable doesn’t have to be expensive.
A cushion of sweet lees beds this youthful Chenin from Western Cape. Meadow flowers, grasses, yellow apple and tight pear are perfumed with peach blossoms and honeysuckle, finishing bright, clean, but slightly warm. This is a mix of dry farmed bush vines (60%) and trellised vines, as well as a mix of picking times. Fermentation was in a mix of French oak (10%) and stainless steel, resting on lees for 6 months before blending. At this point the wine is a bit knees-and-elbows awkward, but should settle with a little more time in bottle.
South African winemakers used to call their Chenin Blanc grape “Steen.” This is one winery that can’t quite let go of the old name. Very pale straw in colour with a spicy, white-peach nose; it’s medium-bodied, dry, with nicely balanced pear and quince flavours. (MAN is made up of the initials of the 3 owners’ wives: Marie, Anette and Nicky.)