The Grapesmith journey began after a trip to California, where Director of Winemaking Johan Malan, was inspired by a white wine from Tablas Creek winery. The wine was 7 years old, but still had a crisp tight character with a delicious dry minerality.
Based on the white wine blends of the Northern Rhône valley and Chateauneuf du Pape, no other similar wines currently exist in South Africa.
“These wines are all about secondary flavours and texture in the mouth and not the primary fruitiness of all the other well-known white varieties. It was exciting to discover a completely different set of aromas and flavours, but texture and mouthfeel above all. Initially rather shy and reserved, the aroma profile increases in complexity over time. As does the silky softness and the viscosity in the mouth.”
Die Kluisenaar (The Hermit) is a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne akin to the white Hermitage wines in the Northern Rhone. The hill of Hermitage is world famous for Shiraz but a small volume of this white blend is also made.
The Mediterraneo on the other hand is the only local example of a white Chateauneuf du Pape style blend, a wonderful region just north of Avignon in the Southern Rhone region. It is in this region where there are 13 grape varieties used to make the white and red blends. The six white varieties are Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Clairette blanche, Picardin, Picpoul and Bourboulenc. These last two are very scarce in SA and for this reason we planted a small vineyard in 2021 to become part of The Grapesmith Mediterraneo blend.
Bourboulenc is a late ripening variety suited to warm conditions (read global warming) and it has long big bunches with thick skins. It is known to retain acidity in the heat which will become more important with climate change. The wines are semi aromatic with floral and subtle citrus aromas. It is primarily a variety used in white blends.
Picpoul is also known as Piquepoul blanc in France and the name literally means “stinging lips” in reference to its bright and fresh natural acidity. The wine has clean lemony flavours and mouth-watering mineral characters with an exceptionally long finish. In three year’s time it will be an exciting new addition in the Mediterraneo to complement the Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache blanc and Verdelho. Now all we need is lots of patience!