Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2020

Tasting Notes

Semillon is the major component in some of the world’s greatest white wines, in particular, Bordeaux Blanc. For the top shelf offerings, as a prime example, Haut-Brion Blanc can fetch $1,000 a bottle. There’s not much of it made and it’s quite expensive, which ties into today’s missive. We are offering a World Class Semillon, made in tiny quantities, at a fraction of the cost of exceptional Bordeaux Blanc.

The 2020 Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek Semillon is jaw dropping impressive and one of the finest whites we have tasted in a number of years. We’re putting this into the World Class category and we are not alone. Tim Atkin MW scored this 99 pts, where he made it his White Wine of the Year in 2022 in his South African Special Report, stating “it’s one of the greatest ever Cape whites”. This is a pretty accurate assessment of its quality, as well as a 5 Star rating from the 2023  Platter Wine Guide.

Sourced from three separate Franschhoek vineyards planted in 1902, 1936 and 1942, these Certified Heritage Vineyards are counted among the oldest in South Africa, and in the world. Boekenhoutskloof’s Semillon is always highly reviewed and their 2020 is superlative, and its pricing makes it ever so evident that it’s also a steal. The more important part that plays into its greatness is the fact that this has the structure for some serious ageing potential. This has it all with a substantial palate presence, hints of tangerine peel, lemon verbena and pineapple notes, with some blossom aromatics courtesy of the tiny 1902 planting of Muscat d’Alexandrie addition in the wine. There is a nearly two minute length on the finish, which separates the great ones from the pack. Extremely limited, this is something that shouldn’t be missed.

Winery: Boekenhoutskloof
Varietal: Semillon
SKU: BOESEM2020 Categories: , ,
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2020



99 pts Tim Atkin MW 2022 – South African White Wine of the Year

Boekenhoutskloof has always made impressive, age-worthy Semillons, but Gottfried Mocke has taken the 2020 to another level of complexity. Using grapes from three old parcels, planted in 1902, 1936 and 1942, with the largest component from the legendary La Colline vineyard, this includes 2% Muscat d’Alexandrie and some field-blended Semillon Gris. Fermented in two thirds new wood, with the rest seeing concrete eggs and amphoras, it’s one of the greatest ever Cape whites. Stony, flinty and layered, with wax, lemongrass and nutmeg flavours and subtle struck match reduction. Wow! 2022-30

5 Stars 2023 Platter’s South African Wine Guide

Delicate silver-golden hue, whiff smoke from partial barrel ferment (70% new & neutral toast, 30% egg & amphora component), mostly wafts of oatmeal & quince on waxy & round 20 (95 pts). Same linear persistence as 19, opening in glass.

Winemaker Notes

Our Semillon is made from Certified Heritage Vineyards, which count amongst the oldest in South Africa. These Franschhoek Semillon vineyards have acclimated to the harsh conditions and alluvial soils in which they grow, producing unique wines with intense depth and complexity. These old vineyards’ deep root systems and high skin-to-pulp ratio produce intensely complex, well-structured wines with
unbelievable aging potential. Two of the vineyards used for our Semillon, planted in 1902 and 1942, are unirrigated bush vines, growing on little to no slope in the ancient Franschhoek Riverbed. These vineyards are well established on alluvial soils with a high loam content. The third vineyard, planted in 1936, is located further up the valley, on a 45-degree south-facing slope, on decomposed granite and quartz. Some of the vines within these vineyards have naturally mutated from Semillon to Semillon Gris, which has a slight red hue and higher skin-to-pulp ratio. The Semillon Gris vines naturally require more ripening time and are only harvested during a second picking. We opted to use a small portion of historic Muscat d’Alexandrie, planted in 1902, to enhance the wine’s aromatic character. The old vines benefited well from the generally wet weather conditions and low evening temperatures throughout the 2020 growing season. With good vegetative growth and lush canopies, the Semillon ripened slowly and evenly, which contributes to the approachable nature of the vintage along with an enticing minerality

The nose is fresh and inviting with intense aromas of orange blossom, marmalade and jasmine and hints of potpourri, nettles and beeswax. Pure flavors of tangerine, honeysuckle, nectarine and notes of Cape fynbos, oregano and chamomile create a multi-layered palate, with soft, beautifully integrated acidity and subtle nuances of khaki bush and fenugreek from prolonged yet very gentle oaking, lending complexity and balance. The mid-palate is dry and richly textured, with a mouth-filling, lithe body and a vibrant, attractive mineral streak. The wine is arresting, precise and focused, yet elegant and smooth, with grapefruit, lemon curd and lime lingering on a clean, slightly saline, mouthwatering finish.

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