Chris and Suzie Alheit are a young husband and wife winemaking team operating out of their own cellar on the Hemel & Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay. They source grapes from across the Western Cape and their first wine is a white blend from the 2011 vintage called Cartology (recommended retail price: R190 a bottle).
The wine consists of 92% Chenin Blanc obtained variously from Bottelary, Kasteelberg, Perdeberg and Skurfberg near Clanwilliam as well as 8% Semillon from Franschhoek. All dry land, all mature (ranging in age from 26 to 75 years old in the case of the Semillon). Chris refers to it as a “heritage wine” – Chenin Blanc and Semillon along with Palomino and Muscat have been around since the 17th century.
The approach to winemaking is “non-interventionist”. The 2011 features whole bunch pressing, spontaneous ferment and maturation in very old 225-litre barrels, no added acid, sulphuring only once fermentation is complete.
The end result is an immensely promising debut with great fruit expression despite the oxidative handling – a touch of lime, stone fruit, golden delicious apple and somewhat surprisingly a hint of strawberry. The acidity is soft but sufficient, gentle rather than hard, what you tend to encounter on European rather than local wines. As for the finish, there’s a subtle and entirely pleasant saline quality but on reflection I think the wine is ever so slightly short of complexity and length to be considered great. Perhaps this will come with time in bottle. Score: 16.5/20.