Niels Verburg is one of the original garagiste trail blazers in South Africa. After graduating at college, he left to work in Europe as a traveling winemaker for 6 years, before settling back in South Africa in 1995 at Beaumont in Bot River, where he made their wines for 8 years. When he purchased the land alongside Beaumont, it made sense to him to plant Shiraz. As a young winemaker traveling the world, Niels confirmed his love for Shiraz when working a harvest in Australia, but it was a winery in Chile that inspired his wine-making method. “It was as if I’d gone back 20 years; it was ramshackle and chaotic, but they had great fruit and passion and I’d never seen that quality of wine”, he explains. “The nitty gritty of good winemaking is to have good grapes, good yeast and good barrels,” says Niels. “Being hi-tech and cutting edge isn’t important to me. When you go into a winery and see the centrifuges and reverse osmosis, it’s like going into the kitchen of a top restaurant and seeing a microwave, you think “Hey, that’s not right!”’ This is his 14th vintage of Shiraz. 2013 was a long cool vintage which shows in the lifted aromatics. After fermentation, the wine was allowed to post macerate for 4 weeks and went through malolactic fermentation on skins. After 2 years in oak (20% new French) it was racked and bottled unfiltered. 1416 cases were made.
Appearance: Dark red and garnet hues. Nose: Spice driven red fruit with hints of licorice, cinnamon and toasty wood. Palate: Brooding dark fruit and spice. Rich, natural, sweet fruit core. Lingering finish of savory spice and balanced tannin.
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92 pts James Suckling
Mulberries, blackberry crumble, earth and spices such as cinnamon. Very sexy and polished on the palate, offering lots of fruit. There’s also a good structure and tension with tangy acidity and grippy tannins, which hold things in place. Drink now.
91 pts Tim Atkin MW 2017
People who love this wine would hate to see it change, and who am I to argue with such success? I wouldn’t mind a bit more freshness, but it’s a broad-chested, figgy, incense and iodine-scented red with lots of chocolatey tannins and a richly alcoholic finish. 2017-21.
90 pts Vinous/Neil Martin Aug 2018
The 2013 Shiraz was matured for two years in 95% French oak and 5% Hungarian oak, 20% new. It has a concentrated bouquet of black cherries and boysenberry jam; a touch of wilted violet petals emerges with time in the glass. The firm palate is medium-bodied with grippy, slightly edgy tannin, good backbone and hints of graphite toward the finish. Two or three years in bottle should soften the edges of this bold but enjoyable Shiraz.
4 ½ Stars 2018 Platter’s South African Wine Guide
Always bold & ripe (15% alcohol in 13) but gets the balance right. Dark fruit, leather, pepper & clove, voluptuous curves without losing any of its latent power, stature. But the decadence is there.
90 pts Wine Spectator
A big wine, maturing beautifully, with hints of espresso and tobacco on the attack, while flavors of mulled spice, blackberry and plum sauce impart an element of sweetness. The tannins are a bit grippy on the finish, so try this with food. Drink now through 2024. 1,416 cases made, 100 cases imported. — AZ (Oct 15, 2020)
As a functional luddite himself and a complete purist. That is to say, he uses no mechanization or modern technology. These grapes come from 2 blocks – an older one and a fairly new one. The cool decomposing clay soils allow him to farm dry land, which means that each vintage is a true reflection of the growing season. Grapes are handpicked and table sorted before being destemmed and pressed. Grapes are smaller and this gives him more flavor concentration. For each vintage to reflect its own character Niels believes it is important that to allow the natural yeasts in the cellar to work with the juice to ferment. The old block was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular pump-overs. Fermentation temps were higher than normal (82°F). No skin contact was given after ferment and the wines were pressed into tank to undergo malolactic fermentation. After malolactic fermentation batches of wine showing promise were blended together and umped into barrel. Niels simply acts as a caretaker and doesn’t override the natural course of the wine. After 2 years in oak, the wine is coarsely filtered and bottled unfined. All bottles are aged in their cellar for another 2 years before release. This is one for the cellar.
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