Now that we are officially into the fall season it’s time to start thinking about wines that will match up to the cooler weather that lies ahead. This particular label has come out of nowhere to take on an almost cult-like following. In only a little over a decade, from its 1st release in 2010, this has been receiving some serious eye-catching third party reviews and with each successive vintage it has gone from strength to strength. This single vineyard Syrah from Callie Louw. has now positioned itself as the Cape’s finest Syrah. We are sure there are a few who would debate that, but the facts are that this has become an icon offering that can compete with the world’s finest. The 2020 Porseleinberg has glowing reviews backing it up, this stellar Syrah in available in both a 750ml format and a 1.5 L/magnum format. It’s here in all its glory but as always limited in availability.
98 pts Tim Atkin MW 2022
We pick the vintage,” says Callie Louw, whose 2020 Porseleinberg is the second lightest in alcohol he’s ever made at 13.6%. Fermented with 100% whole bunches using the submerged cap technique that transformed the wine in 2018, this is another scented, seamless stunner from Callie Louw. Aged in large foudres and 5% concrete eggs, it’s a spicy, sappy, hauntingly elegant Syrah from a brutal site, with kelp, rose petal and fynbos aromas, juicy bramble and red berry fruit, fine tannins and a wonderful sense of energy.
97 pts Winemag.co.za Oct 2022
Winemaking involving 100% whole-bunch and submerged cap fermentation, the wine was matured mainly in large foudres but also a 5% portion in concrete egg. The nose shows red and black berries, floral perfume, cured meat and white pepper while the palate has excellent fruit purity, bright acidity and powdery tannins. Balanced and focused with a finish that is saline and extremely persistent.
97 pts Vinous
The 2020 Porseleinberg is aged for 12 months in foudres, blended in concrete and then aged 16 months in bottle. It is very fragrant on the nose with black fruit, white pepper, fennel and hints of lavender, not unlike a mature Jamet in style. The palate is medium-bodied with a light and peppery entry, beautifully proportioned with fine tannins. Old World in style, very focused, it gently builds momentum to a bewitchingly complex Porseleinberg that will give 20-30 years drinking pleasure. Divine.
95 pts Wine Spectator 3/8/23
An enticing red, this lures you in with aromas of dried flowers and herbs, leather and spices — a fragrant thread that winds through the wine. Meanwhile, the plush texture wraps around firm, fine-grained tannins and carries rich flavors of baked black plum and cassis, bay leaf and eucalyptus and a subtle base note of ashy smoke. You’ll discover more with each sip, so sit a while with this wine. Syrah. Drink now through 2033.
95 pts James Suckling Dec 2022
Aromas of red cherries, rose petals, thyme, rosemary and overturned earth. Medium- to full-bodied with fine, juicy tannins that run the length of the wine. Spicy, herbal and fruitful with a lovely approachability to its complex layering. Succulent and persistent. While this will open up with a bit more age, its already showing very well now. Drink or hold.
The revolutionary Porseleinberg project came about as a result of South African icon Marc Kent’s search for premium Rhône grapes for his Boekenhoutskloof and Chocolate Block labels. The journey naturally took him to the Swartland, which at that time was just emerging as a premium South African wine region. Kent found an ideal 173-acre wine farm atop the Porseleinberg mountain that he purchased in 2009. He quickly recognized the enormous potential of the area, and after replanting the vineyard to Syrah and Grenache, he decided to create a premium Swartland Syrah from the choice fruit. He brought in Callie Louw as the viticulturist and winemaker for the project. Louw is the quintessential
farmer who finds himself most at home on the tractor or in the vineyard, and has proven himself to be a masterful winemaker.
Porseleinberg translates to “porcelain mountain” in English, which refers to the kaolin-rich soils of the area that were used in the porcelain industry. The area is remote, rugged, dry, and windswept with challenging schistous soils that contain lots of shale and are strewn about with boulders. The top soil is very thin, and the resulting yields are very low. Currently 89 of the total 173 acres are planted to grapes.
Only the most premium Syrah from the organically-farmed vineyard is used in Porseleinberg’s single iconic wine. The wine is fermented with 100% whole clusters using only natural yeasts. Fermentation takes place in concrete vats, and the wine is then aged in a combination of foudres and concrete eggs with no new wood intervention. The resulting wine is wild, savory, and tannic but ethereal, and it regularly draws comparisons with top Northern Rhône wines, especially Cornas. It certainly has earned its stature as one of South Africa’s most distinctive and sought-after wines, as evidenced by consistent critical acclaim.