A range of limited-edition wines that promise rare insight into some of South Africa's finest terroir in Stellenbosch has been unveiled. Named Sense of Place, the portfolio showcases the diversity of expressions that vineyards at their peak are capable of.
It proudly takes its place as the flagship collection by Stellenbosch Hills, with the first wines now available being a 2017 wooded Chenin Blanc titled Kastanjeberg and a Cape Blend, Suikerboschrand 2015. They will soon be joined by an MCC (Méthode Cap Classique).
"We're very excited about this range because it gives us the opportunity to shine a light on the very nucleus of our vineyard quality. And we're excited to be able to release these wines in particular," says winemaker James Ochse. "While both are made from vineyards that consistently produce quality fruit, they comprise grape varieties grounded in South African heritage.
"They stand out for being Stellenbosch wines, but also quality South African wines," he says. Sense of Place is where the winemaker's art truly comes to the fore.
Kastanjeberg – complex and elegant
The wooded Chenin Blanc gets its name from the farm where this unique single vineyard block of Chenin Blanc grows, high on slopes facing False Bay. Kastanje is a reference to the Wild Chestnut (Calodendrum capense) trees that thrived in the Cape in the early 1800s.
The Kastanjeberg 2017 is rich and complex, displaying effusive aromas of stone fruit, honey, dried apricots, violets and vanilla oak spice aromas. The palate is full, with a well weighted mid-palate and balanced by a creamy texture and crisp acidity. This show-stopping white erupts with pear and peach flavours combined with hints of vanilla, almonds and dissipates in a lingering finish. "The wine pairs beautifully with crisp pork belly as well as spicy Asian cuisine and cream-based dishes," James says.
Suikerboschrand – a glorious Cape Blend
Named after endemic Sugarbush Protea (Protea repens) that is part of the Cape's Floral Kingdom, Suikerboschrand 2015 qualifies as a Cape Blend, with 33% comprising South Africa's home-grown Pinotage variety. It also includes 29% Shiraz, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot.
All components were vinified separately prior to blending and bottling.
The result for this first vintage is a voluptuous wine with abundant aromas of ripe berry fruits, dark chocolate and cigar box. The wood flavours of the carefully selected oak barrels carry the wine beautifully and support its structure. The tannins ensure a lingering finish with a hint of fresh spice and James notes it is best enjoyed with red meats, whether grilled, roasted or smoked as well as creamy dishes.
The story of Sense of Place
Every aspect of the range speaks of its intent. The names and design underline the philosophy of the wine, along with its content. Sense of Place is a range of top tier wines intended for the connoisseur desiring to understand individual vineyard components at the winemakers' disposal.
The range's link with its provenance is highlighted on the labels and acknowledges the ties of wine to nature. The artistic emblems represent species that occur on the farm and were conceptualised by Stellenbosch-based Haumann Smal Design Studio.
Sense of Place is only available in limited numbers and the wines will only be released in years that that the vineyards show their best. "Vintage will be determined by harvest season," says James.
Strict fruit selection and winery best practice is applied in their making. "These wines are an expression of passion. They reflect our very best," he says.
Kastanjeberg 2017 sells for around R285 and the Suikerboschrand 2015, for around R385. They're available from the winery and selected boutique wine stores, as well as online through the Stellenbosch Hills website. For more information about Stellenbosch Hills, visit www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za