Koelfontein in the ward of Ceres has been in the Conradie family since 1832, Handri the sixth generation to farm this property. It’s primarily a fruit farm with some 300ha under cultivation out of a total of 950ha, apples and pears the largest contributor to turnover. There have long been some plantings of vineyard, however, and Handri decided to concentrate on making premium Chardonnay and Shiraz when he became involved in the running of the farm in 2002.
Since 2004, the wines have been made by Dewaldt Heyns at Saronsberg in Tulbagh and the 2004 vintage of the Shiraz famously was runner-up in the 2006 Shiraz Challenge run by the now defunct Wine magazine in addition to winning double gold at Veritas that year.
It’s a wine which has an alcohol by volume of 15.2% and though it was indeed impressive on release, I remember being sceptical of its keeping qualities. I’m glad to report however that when it was poured at a lunch yesterday, it was still in great knick: developed on the nose but the palate very much intact with red and black fruit and stacks of spice. Full but balanced, thick textured, fresh acidity, chewy tannins. Score: 17/20.
The current release wines from Koelfontein are the Chardonnay 2010 (R90 a bottle) and the Shiraz 2008 (R105). The Chardonnay is from a vineyard planted in 1987 (grapes originally sold to the local co-op) and the wine spent 14 months in French oak, 100% new. The nose shows ripe peach and a yeasty note while the palate is rich and broad with tangy acidity. Score: 16/20.
The Shiraz, meanwhile, spent 20 months in French oak, 80% new and is another beefy number with ripe dark berries on the nose and a rich, full palate – very concentrated fruit, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. It’s ever so slightly hollow on the mid-palate but that’s being hyper-critical. Score: 16/20.