The Swarland is a large wine-growing area starting about 80km north of Cape Town. It stretches another 100km north and is bordered by the West coast and the Piekenierskloof mountains to the north and north east and the Bergriver to the south east. The Paardeberg forms part of its southern border. The soils are all derived from granite mother rock and varies greatly in depth, rock fraction, clay fraction and sand fraction.
Coastal Region,South Africa,
Bottle size: 750 ml,
In The Cellar
The vineyards gets harvested at least 3 times for varying ripeness and larger flavour spectrum. Harvested by hand, it is gently whole bunch pressed and cold settled overnight without fining agents or enzymes. The clean juice is moved to 400L old seasoned barrels and left to ferment spontaneuously with natural yeasts in a cooled barrel cellar. Spontanuous malolactic fermentation is also allowed. The wine is aged on its fine lees without battonage for 10months before it is racked to spend another 5 months in old oak. No additions other than sulphur is made and bottled only with a light filtration.
In The Vineyard
This vineyard was planted in 1983 as an unirrigated bush vine vineyard high up in one of the side valleys of the Siebritskloof valley. The vineyard is tucked against the mountain fynbos and faces directly west. It has less sunlight hours than any other vineyard in the area with an average of 9h per day. This has a profound effect on the microclimate of the vineyard and diurnal temperature shift. In effect it is cooler than the average Swartland vineyard site and flavour development is intense and unique. The vineyard was head trained in 1991 and drainage installed due the natural water drainage from the mountain. It remains unirrigated. It is 70% surrounded by mountain fynbos which has its own influence on the aromatic complexity of the wine.
A visit to the Swartland Waterval farm of Jasper and Franziska Wickens is always enlightening. But it is only when you walk around the upper reaches of the farm, high up in the old vine Tiernes Chenin Blanc vineyard planted in 1983 that you see, smell, and taste the true terroir of the decomposed Granite-rich soils of the Paardeberg. Planted on deep granitic deposits, these vines yield an exceptional expression of Chenin Blanc that in cooler, fresher, more crystalline vintages like 2021, reveals the true majesty of this cultivar. Bright, fragrant and notably mineral on the nose, the aromatics display a complex interwoven array of white blossom, peach stone, green pears, waxy green apple skins, wet hay, sweet baking herbs, fynbos, crushed granite and dried lemon peel nuances. In the mouth this medium-bodied wine simply shimmers, illuminated by its fresh vibrant acids and an intense, concentrated, harmonious melange of nectarine, peach and pear fruits infused with a salty liquid mineral essence that grows incrementally in the glass as the wine continues to unfurl. This is an incredibly special wine graced with a real presence, finesse and stand apart greatness. But you do need an extraordinary vintage like 2021 to realise this kind of exceptional quality and also an agile, skilled, artisanal mastermind like Jasper to capture its essence and bottle it for others to experience. Drink this beauty on release and over the next 10 to 15+ years. (Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)