92 pts winemag.co.za March 2020
If you want your red wine to provide depth and power, then Cinsault is probably not the variety for you. However, if you’re looking for a lighter-style red that offers great drinkability in a warm climate, you’re going to have plenty of joy, the Saffraan Cinsaut 2017 from Mount Abora (note the old-school spelling of the variety) a case in point.
Grapes from a 39-year-old Swartland vineyard, winemaking involved whole-bunch fermentation before maturation lasting six months in tank. The nose is an extremely attractive mélange of red fruit and fresh herbs, white pepper and a vague earthiness. The palate meanwhile is light (alcohol is 11.15%) but there’s nevertheless a great core of fruit to go with a cracking line of acidity and crunchy tannins. Plenty of flavour to go with a jolting sense of energy.
The South African red wine drinking culture was largely built on Cinsault, a high production grape variety which has been
grown at the Cape since the 1880’s. At the beginning of the 20th century it was the most popular red wine grape, with 75%
of the wines made from it. A lot of these old vines are today to be found in the Swartland as low-yielding, non-irrigated
bush vines. As a result the Cinsault vines of the Swartland produce low yields of intensely concentrated grapes.
Mount Abora was created with the desire to make a complex Cinsault that could rival the elegant Pinot noir wines of cooler
climate regions. Our vision with Saffraan is to put forward a lively and luminous wine with a strong mineral core, held
together by a combination of integrated grape tannins and natural acidity. We deliberately set out to deny the Cinsault
grape the opportunity to do what it does best in our warm climate, namely to express its juicy fruit. Winemaker Krige
Visser coaxes just enough natural grape flavours from the juice to complement the underlying aromas of sea and earth,
while ensuring a relatively low level of alcohol. Although the wine expresses an abundance of red berry flavours at a young
age, the backbone consisting of expressive grape tannins and natural acid will over time develop the personality of the
wine, with floral notes such as jasmine and fynbos coming to the fore as the wine matures.
The grapes were hand-picked at a low Balling from very flat-growing 39 year old bush vines on a slope facing South-West.
Warm fermentation was allowed on skins and stalks, followed by warm maceration in tank. The wine was matured in tank
for another six months before bottling. No addition of yeast, enzymes or acids.