Keermont, Terrasse 2012 Stellenbosch

20 Sep 2013 by Jancis Robinson

From 125.00 rand, $26.50, £21, €24.50

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During a recent look at what London online retailer Swig are particularly thrilled by I was struck by this very sophisticated South African blend based on a high terrace of 40-year-old unirrigated Chenin bushvines next to the estimable De Trafford, where Keermont's young winemaker and viticulturist (surely the ideal role?) Alex Starey worked on his return from his travels.

The property belongs to the Wraith family and looks from its website to be farmed in meticulous detail. They produce a Bordeaux blend with a tiny bit of Syrah called Keermont, a Syrah whose 2010 charmed Julia but Richard found a bit too sweet, this Terrasse dry white blend and a sweet white Fleurfontein presumably not too dissimilar from De Trafford's gloriously tangy sweet Chenin. (They both loved the 2011 vintage of Terrasse white blend when they tasted it separately back in March.)

A crucial component is the old-vine Chenin (we were told at Wednesday's Old Vines seminar as part of the Masters of Wines' 60th anniversary celebrations that a vine qualifies as 'old' at 35 years in South Africa) grown on their 40-year-old Riverside vineyard. The old-vine character is supplemented by their Uitkyk vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc planted in 1988 that made up 30% of the blend for the 2012 vintage. Younger vines - Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and a little Viognier - as below.

BLOCK

VARIETY

PLANTED

YIELD

%

Riverside

Chenin Blanc

1971

2.0 ton/ha

14%

Low Road

Chenin Blanc

2007

6.4 ton/ha

17%

Low Road

Chardonnay

2007

9.2 ton/ha

30%

Cottage Lane

Viognier

2006

7 ton/ha

9%

Uitkyk

Sauvignon Blanc

1988

2.8 ton/ha

30%

Of course you don't need to know all this to enjoy the subtlety and richness of the wine - not rich in the sense of overall sweetness because the bracing acidity distracts from that - but the layers of nuance each ingredient brings. It's clearly a complex barrel-fermented wine. I found honey and apples - not unusual for a Chenin - but also some florality in the nose (from the Viognier perhaps?) and an appetisingly bitter quinine note on the finish. This full-bodied dry wine could be enjoyed now but I suspect it will continue to improve for at least five years and possibly more.

There's a list of distributors here with countries listed, not just South Africa, the UK, the US (imported by Kysela, retailed by Timeless Wines) and Germany (all countries listed by wine-searcher.com on the link above and below), but also Estonia, Belgium and Switzerland.

This is just one of the many seriously exciting wines - of both colours but particularly white - now being made by a new generation of South African winemakers. And overpricing is deightfully rare on the Cape. For the moment.

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Tags:  South Africa
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