Natte Valleij, Cinsault, Simonsberg-Paarl, South Africa, 2018
It’s been said that Cinsault is the best cultivar at expressing Terroir and winemaker Alex Milner first discovered it during a harvest in Provence, despite it once being South Africa’s most widely planted varietal. Despite the majority of what he was harvesting being destined to become rosé this encounter planted the seed for what would become his Cinsault Collective, the same grape grown in four different regions from old vines, each beautifully expressing its own unique terroir.
The bush vines that produce the Cinsault in Simonsberg-Paarl are the youngest within the collective but still a respectable 25 years of age, planted in decomposed granite. Not wanting to impart too much oak character to the juice Alex uses 300L French barriques to age the wine for 12 months before bottling, this adds texture rather than flavour.
The finished product is incredibly pure with a ripe, vivacious cherry character complemented by a complex, terroir driven minerality akin to the scent of fresh rain on granite on a warm spring morning. This wine reminds me of Jean Foillard Morgon ‘Cote de Py’ which is a permanent fixture in many ‘Top 50 Wines’ lists and also sells for twice as much.
But don’t just take my word for it, Tim Atkin MW scored it 94 out of 100 whilst Jancis Robinson thought it fitting to bestow it with a s core of 17.5 out of 20.
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