I went through a phase not so long ago of being unenamoured with local single-variety Semillon as most examples were too weird but those working with it seem to be treating it with real love and attention and there are currently some really interesting examples around.
The Franschhoek Vineyards 2013 (R95 a bottle) was recently tasted side by side with the Oak Valley 2013 (R85) , these providing a contrast in styles but both impressive.
Fruit for the Franschhoek Vineyards comes from two blocks, one planted in 1935 and another some 15 years ago. Partial spontaneous fermentation and maturation lasting nine months in barrel, 25% new.
There’s a pleasantly oxidative quality to it with notes of yellow peach and lanolin on the nose and palate. Rich and full with tangy acidity and some spicy bite on the palate. Rough-hewn but the better for it.
Though the Oak Valley 2013 features similar vinification (100% spontaneous ferment, maturation for nine months in second- and third fill oak), it’s less funky. White peach, apple and some hay on the nose. The palate shows good fruit concentration – the wine has presence without being imposing or weighty – and the acidity is soft but sufficient. As the wine warms up in the glass, there’s even a little black currant which creeps in.