While Raats Family Wines sees Bruwer Raats and Gavin Slabbert concentrating on Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, B Vinters Wine Exploration Co. is the label that gives them the scope to explore other varieties as well as letting them work outside their beloved Stellenbosch. Tasting notes and ratings for new releases as follows:
B Vintners B de Alexandria 2016
From Muscat de Alexandria aka Hanepoot. Whereas previous vintages have charmed, this seems particularly pared back and the wine gains extra refinement as a result. A delicately fragrant nose of flowers and herbs before a palate showing lovely fruit expression of apples and litchis. A touch of bitterness on the finish lends interest. Abv 11%.
Editor’s rating: 89/100.
B Vintners Fire Heath Chardonnay 2016
From a Sondagskloof vineyard. 60% barrel fermented before maturation lasting 11 months, 10% new. A hint of reduction before pear and lime plus a subtle herbal note. Light bodied with pure fruit, very fresh acidity and a pithy finish. Few local examples of Chardonnay bear comparison to Chablis but this does.
Editor’s rating: 90/100.
B Vintners Haarlem to Hope 2016
69% Chenin Blanc, 26% Semillon, 3% Muscat de Frontignan, 2% Muscat de Alexandria. A most alluring nose of flowers and herbs before lime, lemon and white peach – less heady and more haunting than previous vintages. The palate is light but intensely flavoured. Tightly wound and wonderfully fresh, the finish very savoury, it’s one of those wines that succeeds by virtue of its elusiveness rather than its substance. Supremely well judged.
Editor’s rating: 95/100.
B Vinters Black Bream Pinot Noir 2016
From a Sondagskloof vineyard. Matured for 15 months in French oak, 10% new. A hint of reduction before red cherry and raspberry plus a little spice. Light bodied and somewhat angular on the palate, the finish very dry – some will no doubt like it for its understatement.
Editor’s rating: 89/100.
B Vintners Reservoir Road Pinot Noir 2016
From a Stellenbosch vineyard. 15% whole-bunch fermentation and matured for 15 months in older oak. A hint of reduction before red and black fruit plus a little earthiness on the nose. Full bodied but beautifully balanced with a little spice on the finish.
Editor’s rating: 91/100.
B Vintners Liberté 2016
From Pinotage. 15% whole-bunch fermentation before maturation lasting 15 months in 500-litre barrels, 10% new. A pronounced floral quality to the nose before red and black fruit plus some earth. Medium bodied with sweet fruit upfront offset by fresh acidity and very grippy tannins, this has bags of personality.
Editor’s rating: 92/100.
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