Hillock Mile High Non-vintage
By Christian Eedes, 20 November 2013
Our daughter Zoë Mathilda Eedes was born on 11 June 2009 and the wine of her birth year I’m backing to serve at her 21st birthday is the Cape Vintage Reserve Port from Calitzdorp winery De Krans. But we all know the Klein Karoo produces good fortifieds and brandies. What of the table wines?
The Klein Karoo region stretches from Montagu in the west to the Outeniqua mountains in the east and plantings are around 2 700ha or 2.7% of the national vineyard, the three most prevalent varieties being Colombar, Chenin Blanc and White Muscadel.
As a consequence of being so removed from the major centres, the Klein Karoo inevitably suffers from a lack of media exposure. To rectify that, a number of cellars from the region (Axe Hill, Boplaas, De Krans, Grundheim, Hillock, Joubert-Tradauw, Karusa, Montagu Wine and Spirits Company and Peter Bayly) put on a walk-around tasting last night at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town.
In a case of adapt or die, it seems to me that these producers have made significant strides in the past decade to uplift wine quality. Boplaas and De Krans have sought out high-altitude vineyards in the Outeniqua Mountains in order to make serious Sauvignon Blanc (the Bobbejaanberg Family Reserve 2013 in the case of the former and Garden Route 2013 in the case latter both showed well) while there are also some notable reds.
One wine I found particularly intriguing was the Double Black Petite Sirah 2012 (R78 a bottle) from Karusa in the Cango Valley. From a 0.6ha vineyard planted in 2006, it’s the first vintage that winemaker Jacques Conradie has managed to make – birds and baboons ate previous crops. It spent 12 months in American oak, all second fill – it’s rich and robust but not unbalanced with ripe black fruit plus a certain winning earthiness.
If you’re looking something a bit more approachable, then the non-vintage Mile High (R62 a bottle) from Hillock is worth considering. This boutique cellar is situated on Mymering outside Ladismith, a 2000 ha property that includes a guest house as well as 40ha of table and wine grapes. Co-owner Andy Hillock, a retired surgeon, is also an aviation enthusiast and so it wasn’t difficult coming up with the name for this wine. A blend of 40% Pinotage, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 14% Shiraz, it’s nicely aromatic, fruit-forward and fresh.