Cartology 2011

July 10, 2012
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 1 Comment

Chris Alheit of Alheit Vineyards

Chris and Suzie Alheit are a young husband and wife winemaking team operating out of their own cellar on the Hemel & Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay. They source grapes from across the Western Cape and their first wine is a white blend from the 2011 vintage called Cartology (recommended retail price: R190 a bottle).

The wine consists of 92% Chenin Blanc obtained variously from Bottelary, Kasteelberg,  Perdeberg and Skurfberg near Clanwilliam as well as 8% Semillon from Franschhoek. All dry land, all mature (ranging in age from 26 to 75 years old in the case of the Semillon). Chris refers to it as a “heritage wine” – Chenin Blanc and Semillon along with Palomino and Muscat have been around since the 17th century.

The approach to winemaking is “non-interventionist”. The 2011 features whole bunch pressing, spontaneous ferment and maturation in very old 225-litre barrels, no added acid, sulphuring only once fermentation is complete.

The end result is an immensely promising debut with great fruit expression despite the oxidative handling – a touch of lime, stone fruit, golden delicious apple and somewhat surprisingly a hint of strawberry. The acidity is soft but sufficient, gentle rather than hard, what you tend to encounter on European rather than local wines. As for the finish, there’s a subtle and entirely pleasant saline quality but on reflection I think the wine is ever so slightly short of complexity and length to be considered great. Perhaps this will come with time in bottle. Score: 16.5/20.

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One Comment

  1. Hans EvenhuisJuly 13, 2012 at 1:28 pmReply

    Thank you very much for your very perceptive description of this very special wine. I have no doubt that the complexity and greatness, comparable in my view to that of the old world whites of the Northern Rhone, will emerge given time.
    My wife Mary Ann and I have been inspired by the passion and dedication of this young couple of winemakers, who live and work on our farm Hemelrand. Their commitment to making outstanding wines expressive of their provenance, from carefully restored and nurtured heritage vineyards, portends well for the future of South African wines. 
    Thank you for your invaluable part in the encouragement that these youngsters need to succeed in their honest endeavours.
    Hans Evenhuis

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