In 2009, Charles Ochse was compelled by his father to leave his post as the winemaker in charge of white wines at Franschhoek Vineyards to take over the running of the family fruit farm in Wolseley. Counting Eben Sadie, Boschendal’s JC Bekker and Sylvia Puig of Priorat winery Odysseus as inspirations, he found it impossible to forsake winemaking entirely and decided to start his own label, namely Ladera Artisan Wines.
Ladera Wild Child Chardonnay 2009 is Wine of Origin Robertson, Ochse excited about the quality of grapes that the limestone soils of the area provide. The wine underwent natural ferment in third- and fourth-fill barrels and was matured for 12 months. As for how it drinks, it’s not called “Wild Child” for nothing, being unashamedly oxidative and more about texture and oalate weight than any particular aromas and flavours. It initially appears rich, sweet and broad but tangy acidity lends balance. Nothing middle of the road about it. Total production was 60 cases and price per bottle is R75.
Ladera Zahir Syrah 2009, meanwhile, is one of the best local examples of the variety I’ve tasted recently. It consists of two-thirds Malmesbury fruit and the rest from different parcels in Paarl. Using whole berries, Ochse applied a three-week pre-ferment cold soak before a natural ferment and maturation in third- and fourth-fill barrels for 12 months. On the nose, loads of red and black fruit as well as pepper while the palate shows great purity and concentration of flavour.
Why is this Syrah so good? Basically because of its poise. Ochse says that the Malmesbury vineyard is some 35 years old, bearing a mere two tons a hectare, but whereas many Swartland wines end up too rich and heavy, this wine manages to remain elegant and eminently drinkable. Conversely, while so many wines from younger vineyards are pretty but insubstantial, this has real integrity. Total production was only 125 cases and is a steal at R85 a bottle. Email Ochse today via firstname.lastname@example.org