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Craven Faure Vineyard Syrah 2016

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Mick and Jeanine Craven of Craven Wines differentiate themselves by working exclusively with vineyards in the very grand appellation which is Stellenbosch but then apply resolutely new-wave methodology – early picking and very often whole-bunch fermentation being particular hallmarks of their approach.

Tasting notes and ratings for the soon-to-be-released 2016s as follows:

Craven Clairette Blanche 2016
Wine Cellar price: R155
60% skin-fermented. Citrus and stone fruit on the nose and palate. Light, fresh and entirely smashable.

Editor’s rating: 87/100.

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Craven Karibib Chenin Blanc 2016
Approximate retail price: R165
From a Polkadraai vineyard planted in 1982. Citrus, peach, a hint of bee’s wax and spice. Lovely fruit concentration, bright acidity and a saline finish. Unembellished old-vine Chenin.

Editor’s rating: 89/100.

Craven Pinot Gris 2016
Approximate retail price: R195
Fermented like a red wine, the colour is an attractive pale red. On the nose, cherry, apricot and fynbos. Lovely texture, layers of flavour and good freshness. Less of an oddity than previous vintages and very more-ish.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

Craven Cinsaut 2016
Approximate retail price: R195
Luminous dark purple in colour. The one red where the Cravens opt to destem before ferment. Aromatics of cherries, plums, purple flowers, earth and spice. The palate is relatively lean (alcohol is 12.76%) but not at all short of flavour. Nicely poised.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Craven Pinot Noir 2016
Approximate retail price: R195
Strawberry, raspberry and spice. An idiosyncratic take on the variety appearing a bit bony with very grippy tannins.

Editor’s rating: 88/100.

Craven Faure Vineyard Syrah 2016
Not too big, not too small, just right.

Craven Faure Vineyard Syrah 2016
Wine Cellar price: R225
From a vineyard on particularly rocky soil. Top notes of flowers and fynbos before red and black fruit plus white pepper. Pure fruit, fresh acidity and lovely crunchy tannins – everything that is good about the variety.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

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Craven The Firs Syrah 2016
Wine Cellar price: R220
From a Devon Valley vineyard on dark red clay. Lavender, dark fruit and pepper on the nose. Appears fuller than its Faure Vineyard counterpart despite an alcohol of just 11.87%. Succulent fruit, chewy tannins but perhaps the less detailed of the two.

Editor’s rating: 92/100.

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