There are just so many bargains from South Africa and this is one of them – from the most fashionable area, too. I see that we have already had five wines of the week from Swartland, the rolling dry inland wheatlands well north of Cape Town, north west of the much more 'establishment' South African wine region Stellenbosch. See the region marked in red below. Vine age is relatively high here, bush vines are common, and much is made of the cooling influence of the ocean breezes that blow in in the afternoon. Putting Swartland in our search box yields pages and pages of articles, and clicking on the Swartland tag above shows the earlier wines of the week.
Unfortunately this wine is available only in the UK but I decided to feature it as a wine of the week hoping it may do a little bit to stimulate interest, particularly in wine importers elsewhere, in fine Cape wines generally. Everyone would benefit if South African wine value were more widely appreciated. Sermon over.
This wine is imported into the UK by Hallgarten Druitt and Novum and is currently listed by Majestic, Noel Young, Wine & The Vine, Find Me That Wine, Ministry of Drinks and Winedown.co.uk from £9.99 a bottle, or £8.99 from Majestic if you buy at least six assorted bottles. Majestic seem to have bought the majority of the production of 5,000 to 6,000 bottles. Even though it does not show up on their website, I am told that it has been in stock for two weeks and apparently they have already sold more than 2,100 bottles and have 2,400 bottles left. This forms part of Majestic's policy of buying WIGIGs (‘when it’s gone it’s gone’).
The Swartland winery was founded in 1948 outside the town of Malmesbury as a co-op and grew to quite a size but since 2006 has been a particularly export-focused public company, with access to 3,600 hectares (8,895 ha) of vines. Not even well-informed South African wine writers are 100% certain about the current situation, not least because the company is to driven by exports. I believe you can buy this wine at the cellar door but it is not listed on wine-searcher.com by any South African retailer. There are close links with the Leeuwenkuil wine operation, to whom Swartland winery's winemaking facilities have been leased since the change of direction in 2006.
This particular wine comes from a single parcel of 30-year-old bush vines on the granite of the Paardeberg owned by the Basson family, one of the original 14 farmer-members of the co-op when it was founded. There are now 64 shareholding families apparently who own and control all the facilities and the bottling lines, warehouse, laboratory.
Mourvèdre is particularly prone to reduction but I found this screwcapped wine whistle-clean and liked its spicy, sweet nose. It has a particularly pure focus and a refreshing line running through it – granite influence perhaps? The fruit is epecially juicy and appealing and the winemaking struck me as very polished. It’s 14% alcohol so not for aperitif sipping – more of a food wine and very good value, I thought. I suggest drinking it over the next two years but it’s already evolved enough to give pleasure now.