The Distell-owned processing facility Die Bergkelder in Stellenbosch processes between 17 000 and 18 000 tons of grapes a vintage. Pieter Badenhorst, winemaker responsible for the white wines under the Fleur du Cap label among other things, says he handles up to 400 tons a day at the height of season. Of this, Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Semillon eventually makes up “less than 5 000 bottles”.
Badenhorst compiled a vertical of the Unfiltered Semillon from 2003 to 2010 yesterday. The 2003 to 2008 from Simonsberg grapes, the 2009 a blend of Simonsberg and Helderberg and the 2010 excusively Helderberg. The first four vintages made by Kobus Gerber, now Distell group winemaker, and the last four by Badenhorst himself.
Tasting notes in brief and scores as follows:
2003: Some reductive pong. Relatively little tertiary character. Tart acidity. Score: 15.5/20
2004: Bruised apple flavour. Appealing but no great complexity. Moderate acidity. Score: 15/20
2005: Oxidised, past best. Nutty, honeyed character. Score: 14.5/20
2006: Big and bold. Thatch on nose. Palate shows lime, yellow apple and honey flavours as well as some pyrazine bite. Also some savoury complexity due to bottle age. Moderate acidity. Score: 16.5/20
2007: Towards greener end of spectrum. Oak sits a little apart but good fruit delineation, fresh acidity. Score: 16/20
2008: Very expressive. Complex nose showing grassiness, thatch, blackcurrant and honey. Good flavour intensity, thick but not unctuous texture, soft but sufficient acidity. Score: 17/20
2009: Lean and tight. Lime and fynbos aromas and flavours. Needs time. Score: 16/20
2010: Rich and full with ripe fruit and moderate acidity. More accessible than 2009. Score: 16/20
A fascinating part of the exercise was contemplating the role of acid additions. The 2003 with a high total acidity of 7.04 g/l seemed a bit “frozen in time”; the 2006 was none the worse for a relatively low total acidity of 5.5 g/l.