93 pts Tim Atkin MW 2021
Emul Ross may be better known for his Pinots but he has a sensitive touch with Pinotage too. This concentrated, textured example has violet and vanilla spice aromas, bramble and blueberry flavours and appealing texture. 2022-27
Harvest was a touch earlier than usual, beginning in the first week of February. Budding was even and complete, helped by a fortuitous two days over 30 Centigrade in mid-September, but it was unusually late in the Sauvignon blanc. The weather at flowering was benign, if a little wet. Ripening was a touch uneven – more so in the various Sauvignon blanc vineyards than for Pinotage. Overall the year was wetter than the previous few years (with a total annual rainfall of 849mm for calendar year 2019). A particularly wetter than average October and January created downy mildew pressures, which became odium and later botrytis pressures, not helped by high humidity and early morning dew. These were however satisfactorily held at bay with organic treatments. The average maximum temperatures for Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar were exactly equal to our long-term average of 25 Centigrade (the long-term equivalent for Burgundy for Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep is 24.8 Centigrade), so on our measure, the vintage was cooler than 2019 and equal to the celebrated 2009 and 2015 vintages. Pinotage yields were significantly down on the already low yields of 2019. Sauvignon blanc yields were very low in our old vineyards and normal in the younger vineyards. A standout feature of the 2020 vintage was phenolic ripeness at lower alcohol than usual, combined with low sugar to alcohol conversions for the fermentations. A highly positive situation. So despite lower alcohol, the Pinotage is deep, and intense, with a beautiful fine-grained structure. A year with weather challenges that did not prevent our team from achieving an exciting outcome.
Southern Right is re-defining Pinotage with this intense classically styled, clay-grown wine, packed with complex berry fruit, beautiful tannins and subtle wood spice. Full ripeness and the longer hang-time afforded by cooler sites, combined with the complex, more classic fruit aromas and structure resulting from clay-rich soil, make this wine a highly individual expression of South Africa’s unique grape variety.