Last year we introduced Stark-Condé to our South African portfolio following their elevation to First Growth status by Tim Atkin MW in his 2019 Special Report. They quickly became a customer favourite and we sold five times more than the farm anticipated we would, needless to say they were quite pleased.
Whilst Meerlust quite rightly vanished from the classification entirely in 2020 there was only one farm elevated to First Growth status in Tim’s report, Spioenkop – an Elgin estate owned and operated by self-confessed “crazy Belgian” Koen Roose, a qualified industrial engineer.
Koen was the first person sensible enough to plant Pinotage in Elgin and was lambasted for it, virtually vilified for daring to plant anything other than the usual suspects of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Maybe it’s his engineering background but he quite rightly was of the mind that Pinotage, having been borne from Pinot Noir and Cinsault, would fare rather well in Elgin’s cool coastal climate… in fact it made a lot more sense being planted there than in the hot, arid climes of Stellenbosch which better suits the austere Cabernet Sauvignon.
On the same tact, it also makes a lot more sense for the cultivar to be naturally fermented rather than subjected to unnecessary over extraction and aged in second and third fill Demi-muids (600 litre barrels often used in the Rhone which impart more texture than they do flavour) rather than new oak.
Which is exactly how Koen makes his Pinotage.
However, that’s not his only shining star… his Riesling is sharper than a samurai sword, it is possibly the most definitive expression of the varietal I’ve tasted from South Africa, nay the New World, it would even give many of the bone dry icons from Alsace or Mosel reason to sleep a little less soundly.
Explore Spioenkop, the pioneering Elgin estate, by clicking here…