Spioenkop 1900 Pinotage 2018
From an unconventional winemaker who isn’t afraid to admit he might be a little crazy. Belgian native Koen Rosse farms a hilltop plateau in the middle of Elgin Valley, where he planted vines in the early 2000s.
The winery is located in the almost crater-like Elgin Valley, surrounded by a craggy fringe of mountains. The vineyard is never below 200m above sea level and its environment’s architecture funnels a cool breeze from the Atlantic a few kilometres away. The vines grow in steep west facing slopes with sandstone, shale and light clay soils. Due to the climate and steep inclines in the valley, there is a good flow of rainwater through the soils and shales, which are characterised by fossils and mineral deposits. The vines are planted close together within each row to encourage low yields, and Koen’s philosophy is that: “Competition with their neighbours helps the vines to stay healthy and results in wines that have a deep colour and matching complexity.”
The vines are between 5–16 years old. The grapes are hand-picked and destemmed, then cold soaked for 6 days, followed by spontaneous and very quick yeast fermentation. Slow pressing and malolactic fermentation occurs in selected French oak barrels and ageing lasts for 11 months on fine lees. No fining, no filtering.
Dark-ruby and purple colour. The nose offers an intense introduction of graphite minerals and violet florals, before opening up to generous red forest fruit. On the palate, flavours of wild raspberries, fresh red cherries, Eton mess and fine sandy earth notes emerge. This is a medium-bodied elegant style of Pinotage with a nice dense, pure and wonderful acidity.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
– 93 POINTS
The estate Pinotage is the jewel in the crown of Spioenkop. This wine has helped define the new style of Pinotage in South Africa whereby winemakers have taken their cues from the great wines of Burgundy, rather than Bordeaux. The logic being that Pinotage is descended from Pinot Noir, so it should be made in that way. This results in grapes that are generally picked earlier, with higher natural acidity and perhaps a slightly lower potential alcohol. The wine is not heavily extracted in the winery (working the skins via punch-downs and pump-overs), this leaves room in the wine for the lighter, more perfumed, elegant side of Pinotage to come to the fore. Superb wine.
From Bottelary grapes and made as a tribute to mentor Francois Naude, previously of L’Avenir. 20% whole-bunch fermentation and matured for 11 months in French oak, 55% new. A floral top note before red and black fruit, a not unappealing hint of banana loaf and spice. Juicy and fresh with supple tannins – good fruit concentration plus zippy acidity and a nicely savoury, even slightly bitter finish. A very elegant rendition of the variety.