Sep 5, 2019
Just 40 miles/65 km north of Cape Town lies a large area that
makes the most exciting, sought after wines in South Africa.
Swartland (Dutch for 'black land') is full of young, passionate
winemakers making wines that respect the hot, dry land from which
they derive and are able to create wines of such depth, flavor, and
nuance that it’s hard to believe so few know about them. In this
show, we tell you about the Syrah, Rhône and Mediterranean
varietals, the Chenin Blanc and other stunning white blends coming
from this area and why you need to seek it out ASAP!
Overview of the region…
- Swartland was oncea rural backwater, better known for wheat
fields than vineyards
- Vineyards traditionally grew where wheat couldn’t -- on the
northern side of Paardeberge Mountains in the south, the plains of
Piketberg in the north, and the smaller Ward of Riebeekberg and
Kasteelberg Mountains in the east
- Lots of old vines on slopes where nothing else grows, hand
- The climate ishot and dry with very low summer rainfall but
with consistent afternoon and evening breezes off the Atlantic
Ocean. Growers have less concern about fungus and other diseases.
They use the ecosystem to keep the vineyards healthy with
integrated pest management, bush training of vines, and dry
We dork out on plate tectonics!
- Swartland has ancient geology. The terroirresulted
from a combination of tectonic collisions, ancient volcanic
activity and continental separation
- The soils are the oldest in the world and are a mix of shale,
arenite sandstone and granite, schist based terroirs. Malmesbury
shale on Kasteelberg Mtn is the dominant soil.
- vertical layering structure caused by tectonic shifts. Water
drains away and vines dig deeper for liquid nourishment
- We talk about the grapes and terroir driven wines of the region
- Red grapes: Syrah/Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Carignan,
Cinsaut, Tinta Barocca, Pinotage
- White grapes:Chenin blanc, Grenache blanc,
Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette, Palomino, Sémillon,
Muscat d’Alexandria, Muscat d’Frontignan, Colombard and
- Viticulture:A lot of natural, noninvasive
methods of farming
- Winemaking:larger barrels that impart less
flavor, less racking and stirring to keep earthy flavors,
unfiltered, unfined wines – low input wines
- The Ward of Riebeekbergnear the towns
of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West has vineyards on eastern slopes
of the Kasteelberg Mountain make big reds of Shiraz, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay that are complex
We talk about South African and Swartland Wine
- We discuss how South Africa lies somewhere between the Old
World and New World styles.
- We discuss the early history in the 1660s, with the arrival of
the French Huguenots who planted vineyards.
- We tell the story of how, in late 1990s, Charles Back of Goats
do Roam fame went to Swartland to source grapes and wound up
transforming the area by buying land and hiring Eben Sadie to
run his “Spice Route” wines in 1998.
- We discuss the modern history of the region and why it takes a
special person to make wine in conditions withlow rainfall,
un-irrigated vines and paltry yields.
Producers and the Swartland revolution
- AA Badenhorst: AA Badenhorst Family White,
AA Badenhorst Family Red are flagships; Secateurs produced
from purchased fruit
- Lammershoek:Traditional producer
- Testalonga:“naked” style, funky wines
- Lammershoek:Libero No. 5
- Mullineux: Syrahs and white blends; entry
level Kloof Street
- Sadie Family: Columella – Syrah-based blend
(famous), Palladius – rich style white; cheaper, co-owned Sequillo
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