Investment Grade South African Wines 

By John Szabo MS

Considering the vastness of today’s global wine industry, the number of “investment grade” wines, those traded on secondary markets most often and thus likely to realise a profit, is exceedingly limited. It’s telling that specialist UK-based company Liv-ex, which tracks and facilitates wine trades around the world, has not a single wine from South Africa on its Fine Wine 1000 index.

Much like a stock market index, Liv-ex’s index tracks 1,000 wines from across the world and is billed as the broadest measure of the wine trading market. But not surprising for collectors and traders is that the index is comprised of a narrow list of familiar estates and highly-rated vintages from a rather limited list of wine regions. For the record, the seven sub-indices, which represent the most traded wines, are the Bordeaux 500, the Bordeaux Legends 40, the Burgundy 150, the Champagne 50, the Rhone 100, the Italy 100 and the Rest of the World 60. So much for fine wines from outside of the narrow band of familiar names.

The index of course tracks only tradability and profitability, which is only indirectly related to deliciousness, and even further away from value. But it’s in these latter two areas that South Africa really shines: ounce for ounce, the Cape’s wines consistently overdeliver on sheer quality and pleasure for the price. Add in longevity for the top wines with the capacity to develop and improve over many years, sometimes decades in the cellar, and you have the recipe for investment grade wines. This is especially true if you consider that you are investing in your own future pleasure and care less about re-selling the wines down the road for profit.

A visit last fall to the Cape Wineland’s, which included a number of winery visits, special regional tastings and tastings of old vintages, and three days at the triennial Cape Wine exhibition with hundreds of producers present, provided a broad view into the current, and very dynamic, South African wine scene. It also turned up a number of such ‘investment grade’ wines. Here’s just a short list of notable producers and wines to get the South African section of your cellar going.

For Michael Godel’s article, click this link: “Irresistible South Africa: Special Report”

To listen to the Wine Thieves’ podcast about South Africa, please go to this link: “The Wild Side with Pieter Walser & Peter Allan Finlayson”

South Africa’s Fine Wine Index

98 Eben Sadie Mev. Kirsten 2021, Stellenbosch

Planted in 1905, the oldest chenin vineyard in the Cape, but every second row was ripped out in the 1940s to allow space for a tractor to pass. Anna Kirsten died in 2014 at the age of 90, and the vineyard was planted before she was born. This is nowhere near drinking, shy on the nose, but explosive on the palate, with singular depth and concentration, and fine tannin, a density without excess, heavy as a feather. The length is immense. An emotional wine, the Montrachet of the Cape. Arguably the finest vintage ever of this extraordinary wine. Best 2025-2040+. Tasted October 2022.

97 Mullineux “Granite” Chenin Blanc Eikelann 2021, Swartland

A single vineyard of old vine chenin, in deep, decomposed, sandy-granite soils, which allow for deep root penetration and yield larger canopies, which in turn shade the fruit and preserve freshness and precious acids. The result in the glass is a leaner, more pure, refined and minerally example of chenin blanc, with striking freshness and energy. The palate shows palpable phenolic grip and noble bitterness, which also servers to enliven the ensemble. Fruit swirls in the yellow but also white fleshed spectrum and wood is almost fully integrated at this stage. Superb length. It needs another 2-5 years I suspect to fully develop, or hold a decade+.  Always the lowest pH and highest acidity of the Mullineux single vineyard chenin trilogy, also the slowest ferments, given the low nitrogen content of the must (low fertility soils). Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

97 Mullineux “Schist” Syrah Roundstone Vineyard 2020 Swartland

The Mullineuxs purchased this vineyard in 2013 (planted in 2000), already well aware of its potential. The thin, poor schist-derived soils tends to yield, as in this case, a darker, more severe, wild and savoury syrah, still on the reductive side versus the more floral and blue-fruited expression of the “Granite” syrah from Mullineux. Although it has higher tannins than the granite, because the pH is higher and acids a bit lower, it comes across as more creamy and supple. (Dry extract 33 for the schist, 32 for the granite). I like the flowing, almost unctuous and generous nature of the wine, the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Length is excellent. Beautiful, compelling wine, highly ageworthy; hold into the mid-’30s. Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

97 Eben Sadie Skurfberg 2021 Citrusdale

Table Mountain sandstone soils at high altitude. Luminescent pale yellow. Striking nose, stony off the top, with citrus pith and peel and orange emerging next to wild green herbs, fynbos; very tonic and botanical. The palate is firm and very structured, with palpable phenolics, serious grip. Overall it’s tightly wound in terms of flavour. Like a refined gin flavour profile. A near perfect expression. Tasted October 2022.

96 Leeu Passant “The Dry Red” 2019 Western Cape

The Dry Red is Leeu Passant’s flagship wine a blend of Cabernet sauvignon (50%), planted in 1970, unirrigated bush vines, virus-free, with cinsault, planted 1900 (the same source as the single bottling Wellington cinsault), and 30% cabernet franc (Helderberg). In the past, the tiny berries of cabernet sauvignon would jam up the augers and pumps, so cinsault was used as a ‘lubricant’. Spectacular perfume here, all class and elegance, a beguiling mix of fruits and flowers, red and black berries, rose and peony, fresh herbs. Terrifically grainy tannins, superb depth and concentration, and tremendous length. Brilliant stuff. Best after 2025, comfortable into the late ’30 no doubt. Tasted September 2022.

96 Mullineux “Schist” Chenin Blanc Roundstone 2021 Swartland

Roundstone is the name of the Mulineux’s estate vineyard, based on shallow schists, very poor, with little water penetration, leading to smaller canopies, smaller bunches, smaller berries, “Bonsai vines”, with bunches up to 30% lighter by weight than the Mullineux’s chenin grown on granites, another single soil exploration of a trilogy. The power is evident on the nose, with striking stoniness and more evolved yellow fruit profile than the granite, also honeyed and waxy. Schist is always about 0.5 grams lower TA than Granite, around 5.8 TA at 3.3 pH, versus 3.2 on the granites. But in both cases phenolics bring additional freshness, texture and tension. This is the wine for fans of density and weight, like a Wachau smaragd grüner, with palpable phenolics (tannins). It has immense staying power. Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

96 Eben Sadie Columella 2020, Swartland

Since 2010 this flagship wine has shifted to more elegance and finesse. Less syrah, 40% vs. 80%, more tinta barroca, grenache and mourvèdre, extracting less, using less wood. Still a meatier and more substantial wine than Sadie’s old vine series,  resinous, sweet fruited, from black currants to blueberry, strawberry to pomegranate. Acids are sharp, supporting and pushing up abundant but ripe tannins. It’s like a chain mail suit, flexible but impenetrable, for now. Try after 2026-2028, or hold surely into the late ’30s or ’40s. It demands time, both in cellar, and also to contemplate while drinking, not an easy wine, but an important one for South Africa. Best from 2025-2040+. Tasted October 2022.

96 Eben Sadie Skerpioen 2021, Swartland

Sadie’s limestone vineyard by the coast, a co-planting of chenin and palomino, planted in 1958 for brandy production. I love the apparent delicacy of  this wine, the perfume, especially the salty sea air and tart green apple skin, but there’s such saline tension on the palate, deceptive depth and complexity and a finish that goes on and on. It’s a wine that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. Not for the swimming pool but for the table. A superb vintage to boot from this wine that doesn’t disappoint. Best after 2024. Tasted October 2022.

96 Sadie Family Wines Palladius 2021, Wine of South Africa

The wine that has progressed the most at Sadie, like the equivalent red, Columella. It’s a blend of chenin blanc, grenache, marsanne, roussanne and viognier, clairette, semillon blanc and gris, palomino, verdelho, colombard, 11 grapes in all from 17 vineyards, and always the same sites. It’s a bit shy for the moment, but clearly a wine of depth and power. Cream mixes with citric acids, gentle wood extract. Length is exceptional. Best 2025-2040. Tasted October 2022.

96 Sijnn White 2019, Cape South Coast 

This 2019 is still young, even a little reductive on the nose, though the palate is starting to come into form, showing plenty of salty acids and freshness. I find it so sapid and saline, saliva-inducing, with a beguiling range of fruits, florals and savoury herbs, and exceptional length and depth without a trace of heaviness or oiliness. Dances powerfully across the palate. Try this again after 2024, but ideally, hold until the end of the decade – this sort of depth and power needs time to unwind and fully show itself. Decant if serving now. Tasted October 2022.

96 Sijnn White 2020, Cape South Coast

The first vintage of Sijnn White that contains verdelho, along with dominant chenin blanc and roussanne and viognier, which adds lift and freshness, and higher toned, greener fruits. I love the aromatics here, spanning such a wide range of white, green and yellow fruit, the sweet lemon curd, the lemongrass, the white grapefruit, the tangerine and orange peel, and I could go on. The palate is expansive and energetic, with the typical salinity that marks this property, along with the palpable grip of tannins that add structure and pleasantly refreshing bitterness. Exceptional length and depth. Decant if serving now. Tasted October 2022.

95 Leeu Passant cabernet Sauvignon 2020, Stellenbosch

This cabernet is from the Helderberg, on the mid-slope facing, and about 4kms from, the ocean, a cool, late site, often picked into April with an ideal microclimate and soil depth, planted in 1980. The wine is inspired by the more classic graphite-gravelly styles of cabernet, aged in 500l barrels for the 1st year, the 2nd year in large 5000l vats. The nose offers high intensity aromatics, combining both the fresh, black fruit and herbal components of the variety with the wild garrigue (fynbos) of the Cape in a highly attractive ensemble. Firm, structured, taut and muscular on the palate, with uncommonly fresh acids, while tannins are chiseled, supported by those acids, leading through the long finish. A stellar wine to be revisited after 2025 at least, and I suspect this will age positively, and comfortably, into the late ’30s.Terrific value on top of it all. Tasted September 2022.

95 Mullineux Old Vines White 2021, Swartland

The 2021 vintage finally saw some rainfall after the drought-ridden 2016-2019 period, also the latest picked vintage so far at Mullineux, into March. It’s composed as usual with a backbone of up to 70 year old chenin, blended with viognier, semillon gris, clairette grenache blanc and verdelho. All barrel fermented with a small new wood component. It has classic old vines extract and texture, in a highly compelling style, billowing with yellow fruit and flowers, tangerines, fresh hay, lemongrass, honey and fresh bees wax, and complexity is off the charts. Length, too, is superb. Full-on delicious, rich and satisfying, creamy-fresh. Drinking so well now but will evolve to the end of the decade. One of the finest vintages yet for the old vine white. Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

95 Mullineux “Granite” Syrah Jakalsfontein 2020, Swartland

I love the finesse and elegance in this wine, born of slightly more generous granite soils yielding bigger canopies and more shaded, protected fruit. It’s fermented in 500l upright barrels with gentle hand punch downs, more of an infusion than extraction. the 2nd year of ageing takes place in large oak vats for aromatic refinement. The nose is all wild violets, and black currants right off the bush, crushed mint and thyme, cracked black pepper and cinnamon stick. The palate is sleek and linear, flowing, structured and firm but in the raw silk fashion. Length and depth are spectacular. Best after 2026 or so, or hold late into the ’30s. Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

95 Mullineux “Iron” Syrah 2020, Swartland

The Iron rich, red clay “Koffeeklip” soils of this site lead to a syrah with high mid-palate weight and intensity. The nose here, like the “Iron” syrah, is a little more reserved and tightly wound than its Granite counterpart, and shifts into a more ferrous, sanguine, bloody expression on the palate, wild and herbal, resinous, fynbos-inflected, the South Africa equivalent of garrigue. The palate is still quite angular, even if tannins are not at all rough, actually quite fine but abundant. There’s loads of pepper and cold cream, and a marked bitterness, pleasant, on the finish; length is excellent. A highly distinctive bottling, best from 2026 or hold into the mid-’30s. Tasted April 2023.

95 Sijnn White 2018. Cape South Coast

Chenin, viognier, roussanne. The 2018 White from Sijnn seems to be going through a down phase at the moment, at least aromatically. It’s also a little tighter on the palate, more linear but with grip in the house fashion, an inevitable (and happy) result of such low yielding vines and concentrated berries. The profile is mostly yellow fruit, with violets and peaches, apricots, quince and other exotics, while wood is a very minor player. Excellent length and depth. I’d cellar this for another 2-3 years minimum, or hold late into the season. It comes alive in the glass so decant if serving now. Tasted October 2022.

95 Sijnn Red 2018, Cape South Coast

Cabernet jumps up to 15% of the blend in this vintage (with syrah, touriga, trincadeira, and mourvèdre) , and like the 2016, 2018 shows blue fruit and floral character, lavender and blueberries, wonderful savoury character and sleek, ripe but firm tannins. I love the refinement and elegance allied to power, the depth and concentration with finesse. Superb wine, drinking well now, but of course better in 2-3 years, or hold late into the ’30s. Top notch. Tasted October 2022.

94 Reyneke Chenin Blanc Biodynamic 2021, Stellenbosch

From old estate vines planted in 1974 and 1976. c. 50% juice yield. Fermented in foudre, on lees for 10 months. A small part in amphora. Slight reductive edge, brilliant acids and energy on the palate, fruit backwards, much more stony than the “organic” chenin. More of an insider’s wine, more challenging, There’s a succulence and vibrancy that I love. This should age well. Try after 2023 or hold late into the decade. Tasted September 2022.

94 Reyneke Reserve Red 2019, Stellenbosch

Pure syrah. 16 months in 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. More developed, roasted character, rubbery in the reductive style, darker fruit, cracked black pepper, insidious concentration, density without heaviness. Tannins are abundant, firm, tightly knit and wound, framed by crunchy-ripe acids. A wine of place more than variety, really speaks of the farm. This is a long way from prime; try after 2025,or hold comfortably into the ’30s. Tasted September 2022.

94 Reyneke Cornerstone Biodynamic 2019, Stellenbosch

75% cabernet franc, 25% cabernet sauvignon. Very pretty, floral in the cabernet franc style, gravelly and fresh black fruit-scented, also some red fruit, evergreen, cedar, mint. Firm tannins, dusty, pleasant astringency. Very sapid and pure, saline, drives additional sips. Excellent length. Tasted September 2022.

94 Ken Forrester FMC 2021, Stellenbosch

Planted in 1974, only old vines used (30%) replants. Lovely, fragrant, ripe. No evident botrytis. Fresh white and yellow fruit, florals, honeyed, Great depth and purity, genuine concentration. Long finish. Tasted September 2022.

94 Leeu Passant Chardonnay 2020, Stellenbosch

First vintage 2015. Upper-mid-slopes of the Helderberg facing False Bay 4kms away (same site as the Leeu Passant cabernet sauvignon) with strong climate influence, maritime. Hyper oxidized juice, barrel fermented and aged 18 months, blended in tank before bottling. No sulfur until blending. Cool, flinty nose, clean, citrus-driven more lime than lemon. The palate is bright and tight, not shrill, saliva-inducing. Really well put together, searing in the best way. Classy, complete, coming around nicely, some appealing, leesy-almond flavours emerge on the finish. Best now-2030 or so. Tasted twice September in 2022 and April 2023.

94 Mullineux “Iron” Chenin Blanc Rondomskrik 2021, Swartland

Made from the Rondomskrik vineyard planted on rich, red-gravelly-clay Koffieklip soils on the rolling hills outside of Malmesbury, this dry land bush vine vineyard is always the first to ripen out of Mullineux’s chenin holdings. It’s also the trickiest chenin of the Mullineux trilogy of single soil/vineyard expressions to produce, a site that naturally produces a very dense, high extract example, thanks to deep soils that are more nutrient rich, and it’s hard to pull back and prevent the balance from running away. Yet I find the  nose to be more tightly wound than the granite or the schist versions, not particularly fruity, rather more spicy. And acids are surprisingly bright and the palate seemingly leaner and tighter. It weighs in at 1% less alcohol declared (the sugar conversion rate is lower here for some reason). Best after 2025. Tasted April 2023.

94 Mullineux Syrah 2019, Swartland

Pure syrah on a mix of granite, schists, quartz and iron-rich soils, the flagship bottling of syrah from Mullineux. 100% crushed whole cluster (not carbonic), fermented in upright, large wooden vats. Lifted, clean and perfumed, with attractive florals, sweet-fresh dark fruit, wild herbs, and more in a complex guise. The palate delivers a raft of sun-soaked black fruit framed by fine, grainy tannins, with excellent length. A syrah of class and sophistication, drinking surprisingly well now, though surely better after 2023. Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

94 Eben Sadie Treinspoor 2021, Swartland

Pure tinta barroca. “My favorite grape”, says Eben Sadie, “it can lock up time”. It’s the tannins and acids, interwoven, with a measure of austerity, reminiscent of Italian wines, that can last a very long time. But production is much lower than the other Douro varieties. Formerly much more widely planted. The Treinspoor vineyard was planted in 1974 on an alluvial plain, sandstone and quartz. It’s a little shy on the nose, and very structured on the palate, with abundant, wooly tannins that will take some time to unwind, like young nebbiolo. I like the mix of fresh black cherry and blackberry, also currant. Wood is not an influence. Length and depth are very good, though I feel this has much to gain with time in bottle, as already it gains with aeration. Tasted October 2022.

94 Eben Sadie ‘T Voedpad 2021, Swartland

The “Foot Path”, is a vineyard with 1897 and 1928 plantings in heavy clay sandstone and quartz of a field blend of semillon blanc and gris, palomino and chenin. A tough vineyard to pick a harvest date, and alcohol can vary from 12%-14% depending on the year. This 2021, at 12.5%, is a translucent green-gold colour, with flinty, tightly wound nose, on the greener side of the spectrum, not to say unripe, but there’s a coolness here. The palate has immense tannin for a white wine, surrounded by acids. Berries are tiny, yielding less than 50%, even with a hard press. “It’s like there are only stems in the press”. Thick and chewy palate, surely very ageworthy, saline. Long, pleasantly bitter finish. A singular expression. Tasted October 2022.

94 Sijnn Red 2016, Cape South Coast

Another dry vintage. What lovely, lifted perfume, a very floral vintage for this stellar South African wine, featuring violets and peonies and wildflowers alongside blue, black and red fruit, the fist vintage to feature such floral and blue notes. The palate is silky and smooth, finely detailed, with abundant but really refined, with juicy acids, broad and voluptuous. Smells like the trincadeira barrel sample in the cellar. Tasted October 2022.

94 Sijnn Red 2017, Cape South Coast

2017 is a firm and tight vintage, more structured and swarthy, yet with succulent acids that induce saliva and lubricate the palate. It shows some whole bunch character, stem tannins, a positive. The net result is intensity, complexity and great length. Drink from 2024-2034. Tasted October 2022.

93 Ataraxia Earth Born Chardonnay 2020, Hemel en Aarde Ridge 

Fine ripeness here. Creamy texture, tangerine, orange flavours, finely sapidity, gentle caramel-lees flavours, fresh cream finish. Well made, long finish. Representative. Tasted September 2022.

93 Restless River Ava Maria Chardonnay 2020, Upper Hemel en Aarde

Nice nose here, mixing fruit and stone and gentle wood, attractive wooly notes. Fine reduction, high acids, lovely salinity. Cinnamon finish. High complexity. Top notch. Tasted September 2022.

93 Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2021, Hemel en Aarde

Smoky, toasty, properly reductive, voluminous nose, with ripe citrus shifting into orchard fruit, a very good range. Lovely palate presence, balanced, with a comfortable mix between toasty fruit, wood and non-fruit, stony character. Excellent length. Top notch, delicious. Tasted September 2022.

93 Reyneke Reserve White Biodynamic 2020, Stellenbosch

Pure sauvignon blanc from a couple of special parcels that stand out yearly. 30% is destemmed, the rest whole bunch pressed. 300l barrels, 80% new, though barrels are  stored at c. 5ºC so flavour extraction is low. Ph 3.1-3.2 max. Wood not noted, despite the high percentage; malo avoided and freshness complete. I like the lean texture and the vibrancy. Subtle lees and blond caramel on the finish. Complexity is high, though needs another year or two in bottle. Tasted September 2022.

93 Leeu Passant Basson Old Vines Cinsault 2020, Wellington 

Said to be South Africa’s oldest cinsault, indeed the oldest red wine vineyard in the country, a 0.8ha experimental plot with over 20 rootstocks on sandy-alluvial soils (cinsault blanc and cinsault gris interplanted). The vineyard was registered in 1900, the first year in which a registry was established, meaning it could be even older. It’s made with 100% whole cluster, open-top fermentation, aged two years in barrel. It delivers explosive aromatics, fresh, lively, very pretty, all red fruit, strawberry, crushed raspberries and currants. Yet this is one of the more structured cinsaults on the palate I’ve come across, deceptively powerful, with ultra fine, grainy tannins, and bright, juicy acids, clean, clear, a clarion call to pleasure and spectacular example. 120,000 rand per ton to farm this site! Tasted twice in September 2022 and April 2023.

93 The Sadie Family Die Ouwingerdreeks Pofadder Wyn Van Oorsprong Swartland Die Sadie Familie Wyne  2021, Swartland

One of the few remaining old vine cinsault vineyards, Pofadder features 40 year old vines on slate soils in Riebeek Kaasteel, in a south-facing (cool) amphitheater, which leads to varied ripening within the site. 50% whole cluster, just one bucket-over a day, no punch-downs, more of an infusion. 3 weeks on skins, pressed into concrete and foudre. Wonderful perfume, in the classic red spectrum: strawberry, bright red cherry, white pepper, dried herbs. The palate is silky, refined, ultra-elegant, with sapidity in spades. Marvelous purity and finesse. A complete, post-modern, lighter style red with genuine depth and complexity. Tasted October 2022.

93 Sijnn White 2017, Cape South Coast

Chenin, viognier, roussanne. 2017 was a very dry vintage, just 200mm rain total. It’s evolving marvelously at this stage, a stellar white blend from Sijnn, richly perfumed, with an exotic mix of orange peel and tangerine, quince and Golden Delicious apple, lemon curd, toasted brioche, button mushrooms, marmalade and much more. The palate is mid-weight with terrific natural acids and notable phenolics giving textural grip. Excellent length, depth and concentration. Tasted October 2022.

92 Vergelegen V. 2005, Stellenbosch

94% cabernet, 3% each merlot and cabernet franc. The first vintage of V, which has undergone recorking; sold in the vinothek at the estate. Colour is holding on well, and aromatics are explosive – it’s appealingly herbal-vegetal in the varietal spectrum, ageing really nicely now. This smells like old Bordeaux, smoky, complex, with dark berry fruit. Tannins are still firm, supported by high acids, although 2005 was a warm vintage, this comes across as a much cooler expression, refined, sophisticated. Tasted September 2022.

92 La Motte Hannelì R 2015, Western Cape

Named for Hannelì Rupert, a blend of 60% shiraz, 10% petite sirah, 30% grenache. This actually works quite well. Savoury, earthy, gravelly, fine-grained tannins, strikingly fresh acids, or lowish pH. Long finish. Wears the oak well. Quite a unique wine, my preference of the premium range at La Motte, but beware the heavy bottle. Tasted September 2022.

92 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Stellenbosch

A proper Stelly cabernet, classically styled, gravelly, earthy, blackcurrant. Firm palate, bone dry, dusty tannins, wild herbs, roasted greens. Everything in place. Better in 2-4 years – this should age well. Tasted September 2022.

92 Creation Wines Art of Chardonnay 2020, Hemel en Aarde

Cool, reserved, crunchy acids, saline and mineral, low fruit. A low-fi, subtle wine with staying power. White-fleshed orchard and lime-citrus fruit. Fine length. Tasted September 2022.

92 Domaine des Dieux Chardonnay 2019, Hemel en Aarde

Lots of fruit here, thiols, but attractive, tangerine-orange, creamsicle flavours. I really like this. Lots of depth and sapidity, the right amount of lees influence. Long finish. Tasted September 2022.

92 Reyneke Biodynamic Syrah 2020, Stellenbosch

30% whole bunch, aged in concrete and stainless. A very floral expression, in the blue fruit spectrum, shifting more herbal on the palate. Acids are high and tannins firm, with a lovely tonic quality. Long finish. Old oak 12 months. A cooler syrah expression. Tasted September 2022.

92 Raats Family Wines (Bruwer Vintners) Liberty Pinotage 2020, Stellenbosch

From the Polkadraii Ward in Stellenbosch, 6km from False Bay, a cool site on granite soils. Some whole bunch, aged in 500l barrels. Lightly smoky-earthy, iodine and band aid, but subtle. Grippy, raw tannins, not yet at prime drinking. Also very stony on the palate. This is really well-structured, with excellent length. Quite a revelation. Perhaps the most ‘terroir’-driven pinotage I’ve come across. Really picks up speed across the palate, great life and energy. Tasted September 2022.

92 Ashbourn Pinotage 2020, Hemel-en-Aarde

This weighs in at just 12.9% alcohol (the yeast conversion rate was lower than usual in 2020). Designed to age a decade or two. 1.1 tons/hectare, 7 hl/ha. Concentrated, high-toned, perfumed, wood noted but excessive. The palate is solidly built, structured, showing blue fruit in a fashion reminiscent of syrah, also a peppery-herbal and violet-floral. component. Length and depth are excellent. This has the fruit extract and concentration to weather the tannin storm; try again in 2-4 years, or hold into the ’30s without concern. Tasted September 2022.

92 Sijnn Red 2010, Cape South Coast

A very hot vintage. Made by David Trafford in the Stellenbosch cellar. Syrah, touriga, trincadeira, mourvèdre, and cabernet. Quite mature at this stage and drinking well, only the second vintage of commercial consequence from this exceptional property. It’s made in a firm and juicy style, with lovely dusty tannins. Fruit is still intact, in both the red and black spectrum, just starting to show desiccated character. Length is very good. Striking to see such depth and complexity from such young vines. Tasted October 2022.

92 Sijnn Red 2015, Cape South Coast

Tasted from magnum, Savoury and herbal off the top, following through on the palate, with lovely sapidity and salinity, and proper firm structure holding on. The minerality is searing on the palate, melding beautifully with the crunchy red and black fruit. Fine length and depth. Best now-2030 or so. Tasted October 2022.

John Szabo, MS