4 ½ Stars 2021 Platter’s South African Wine Guide
Sizeably produced Swartland blend of syrah, grenache, cinsault with cab & viognier. Sumptuous 18 (93 pts) followed by forthright & direct 19 (94 pts), with rich blackberries & savoury whiffs of meat & tar. Supple tannins, well integrated acidity. Just 10% new oak, combo barrels & foudres.
Vintage 2019 was preceded by a very dry growing season ensuing in a record-low harvest yield. The
crush was down 2% from 2018 tonnages. The optimistic retrospect of these conditions resulted in
smaller, more concentrated berries due to their higher pulp-to-juice-ratio. These circumstances, along
with green harvesting due to uneven bud-break, were encouraging for the making of wines with great
complexity. The Swartland experienced moderate temperatures during December ’18 and January ’19
with the first heatwaves impacting the appellation during February. The picking window for The
Chocolate Block was a mere two-week period. Fortunately, our even greater reliance on our vineyards
from Porseleinberg and Goldmine farms made it a manageable fortnight in terms of fruit-picking and
refrigerated transport logistics.
By early accounts, 2019 is proving to be another good vintage for Syrah with pronounced black fruit
flavours and a classic black olive nuance. The predominant variety (71%) displays a beautiful inkiness
in the glass. The Grenache vineyards on Porseleinberg are becoming well-established, and this variety
is undoubtedly the bright, perfumed star of the blend revealing an old, Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like
charm. Old vine Cinsault remains an unheralded gem which effortlessly knits the wine together and
establishes a refined elegance. At merely eight percent of this finite variety grown within the
appellation, Cabernet Sauvignon is essential in providing structure and grip to the blend.
Syrah and Cinsault were matured in a combination of seasoned 2,500L French oak foudres and
barriques. Grenache was matured in seasoned 600L demi-muids. Cabernet Sauvignon was the only
component exposed to new French oak barrique. The elevage ranged between 13 & 16 months,
dependant on component and vineyard parcel. 2414 barriques were selected for our 2019 vintage.
The nose is dark, intense and brooding with aromas of black cherries, cardamom, sweet tobacco,
espresso and subtle whiffs of perfume. The dark fruit character of the nose follows through onto an
exceptionally complex, juicy palate with gentle nuances of ripe plums, violets, black olives, cloves,
and liquorice. The mid-palate is focused, lithe and elegant with very fine, cocoa powdery tannins.
The wine is medium bodied, very balanced with an earthy, layered character, covering the entire
spectrum of berry fruit – from tart red plums to rich blue and black berries. The finish is svelte, clean
and dry, peppery and lingering, with hints of dried cranberry, tar, graphite and smoke.