Thorne & Daughters Tin Soldier Semillon 2019
Tin Soldier is a skin-fermented wine made from Semillon Gris, which is almost unique to South Africa, and a vestige of a time when Semillon was the grape on which the South African wine industry was built. Tin Soldier takes its name from Semillon’s status as the old footsoldier of the South African industry. Much like the old toy soldiers buried in the garden, Semillon has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former glory days in the Cape.
Bright with copper coloured tones from its fermentation on skins. The expressive bouquet boasts intense aromas of citrus peel, bruised apple and sweet papaya with notes of peach kernel, ginger, spice and marzipan. The finely structured palate has a gorgeous saline backbone, fresh acidity and full flavours that exemplify its richness and depth. Dry and delicate, and quite unlike any other Semillon Gris.
John and Tasha are wanderers at heart and their travels in the Western Cape brought them into contact with many fantastic grape growers. They rent a truck and travel to the vineyards, where they hand-pick the grapes early to retain freshness and clarity of vineyard expression, while also refraining from sacrificing the pleasure that ripe fruit brings to the wine. The Semillon Gris grapes for Tin Soldier are sourced from a single vineyard in the “Siebritskloof” (Siebret’s Valley) on Swartland’s Paardeberg mountain. The vineyard was planted with cuttings of Semillon Gris taken from the old bush vine vineyard where the Semillon for the ‘Paper Kite’ comes from and is believed to be the only 100% Semillon Gris vineyard in South Africa. The soils are granitic sand and the seven-year-old vines are trellised.
Around 40% of the Semillon Gris grapes were destemmed and crushed. They then underwent fermentation on the skins with natural yeasts for around 10 days in order to develop colour and structure. The remaining 60% of the grapes were whole bunch pressed in an old Vaslin press and underwent fermentation in 225 litre French oak barrels. The combination of this wine with the skin-fermented portion lifts the aromatic profile of the wine to achieve a wonderful interplay of fruity and savoury flavours. After fermentation, the wine went through spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aged in barrel on its lees. No sulphur additions were made until August following the vintage. The final blend was assembled in November and was bottled at the end of December.
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