Craig Hawkins arrived as winemaker at Lammershoek in the Swartland at the end of 2009 with a view to making “natural wines” – no cultured yeasts, no new oak and absolutely minimal amounts of sulphur allowed.
I visited Hawkins for the first time in three years on Friday and if I liked his initial efforts, I love where he’s at now. Previously there was a sense of low-fidelity mucking about for the sake of it and the wines were sometimes a bit wild and woolly. Now, however, there’s seems less emphasis on making an anti-establishment statement and more on making wines of true distinction.
The wine which epitomises for me how far he’s come is the Lammershoek Syrah 2012 (not yet released but get on the waiting list). It underwent spontaneous fermentation, 60% to 70% whole-bunch but extraction kept to a minimum so happily very little stalky character before maturation in large-format foudres.
Gorgeous aromatics including red and black berries but also lavender and fynbos and perhaps a touch of earth. Pristine fruit, lively acidity and fine but forceful tannins providing a pleasantly prickly sensation in the mouth. Great denouement – viticulture and winemaking resulting in a truly vivid drinking experience. Beautiful – not flimsy as merely pretty wines can tend to be.