91 pts Christian Eedes winemag.co.za Jan 2022
Stars in the Dark, an Elim Syrah as made by Sam Lambson of Minimalist Wines, has impressed on the few occasions I’ve encountered it while Connect The Dots is another bottling of his, grapes sourced from various sites to provide an overview of the variety as grown in the Cape.
In the case of the 2020, grapes come from the Helderberg and Polkadraai areas of Stellenbosch as well as Darling and Elgin, some whole-bunch fermentation undertaken before maturation lasting 14 months in neutral oak.
The nose shows a little roasted coffee-like reduction before red and black berries, olive and hints of pepper and spice while the palate has impressive depth and texture given a moderate alcohol of 13.5% – layers of subtle flavour, moderate acidity and soft, powdery tannins.
Life is an expedition and though the route’s often unclear, the fun lies in joining the dots between the people, places, ideas and experiences we encounter along the way. As in the vines, sometimes they connect, sometimes they don’t but, when the dots do connect, the results can be breathtaking.
Exploring the diversity of Syrah planted in cool micro-climates of the Cape is my passion and this label represents another step in my never-ending search to find the best sites in the Winelands. Working closely with farmers who share my passions for Syrah and precision viticulture, the idea is provide a snap-shot of Cape Syrah in a given year and to fuse the results in a bottle. In other words, to Connect The Dots.
In 2019, the first vintage of Connect The Dots came from parcels in Stellenbosch and Elgin. In 2020, sees a return to the same districts and this blend includes fruit from the Granite soils of Stellenbosch’s Polkadraai and Helderberg, a new Table Mountain Sandstone parcel in Elgin and, for the first time, parcels in the iron-rich clay soil of Darling.
Each of the sites brings something distinct to the blend and it is always fascinating to see what unfolds when nature takes the lead.
On the vines, early and even bud burst was set in motion by a warm Spring, which contributed to a larger crop. Then, later in the season, the challenge of keeping fruit healthy till harvest kept us on our toes.
Strong winds moderated vigour and during ripening there was frequent rainfall, accompanied by cool temperatures. However, conditions in the vineyard paled into significance against the race to get the fruit pressed in the cellar before our first Covid lockdown hit! (We made it with just two adrenalin-pumping days to spare …)
As always, the approach in the cellar has been gentle. All parcels were fermented separately, with minimal intervention, and there was some whole-bunch fermentation where appropriate. Then the wine rested in neutral 300L French Oak for 14 months before many moons of tasting, revisiting (and agonising!) to settle on the final blend.