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Spioenkop Elgin Pinotage 2018

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Koen Roose of Spioenkop in Elgin, nothing if not individualist, is constantly re-imagining how his wines might be better, and watching his progress from vintage to vintage is particularly fascinating. Tasting notes and ratings for the new releases as follows:

Spioenkop 1900 Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Approximate retail price: R165

Previously released as a first label wine. Yellow apple, peach, apricot as well as some white asparagus on the nose. Rich and broad – creamy texture offset by tangy acidity, the finish nicely savoury. Unusual and compelling. Alcohol: 13.98%.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

Spioenkop Riesling 2017
Approximate retail price: R265

Pear, peach, green apple and lime plus hints of petrol and smoky reduction on the nose. A vivid palate with pure fruit and racy acidity, the finish extremely long and bone-dry. Precise and direct, this once again sets the standard for what can be done with this variety in South Africa. Alcohol: 12.81%.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

Spioenkop Sarah Raal Chenin Blanc 2018
Approximate retail price: R285

Matured for nine months in tank before a further three months in older oak. A wonderfully complex nose – yellow apple, peach and some yeasty complexity with an overlay of flowers, fresh herbs and spice. The palate as presence and poise – a terrific line of acidity (TA 7.5 g/l) but plenty of dense fruit packed around it – nothing angular or astringent about it. Alcohol: 13.36%.

Editor’s rating: 95/100.

Spioenkop Johanna Brandt 2017
Approximate retail price: R265

Matured for 11 months in French oak, 30% new. Yellow fruit, some nuttiness and spice. Rich and full with tangy acidity and a savoury finish – arguably a bit foursquare compared to the much lauded previous vintage. Alcohol: 13.66%.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

Spioenkop 1900 Pinot Noir 2016
Approximate retail price: R200
Previously released as a first label wine. Matured for 11 months in French oak, 30% new. The nose shows a quite pronounced note of smoky reduction to go with red cherry, some meatiness, earth and spice. The palate is not insubstantial (alcohol: 13.28%) with bright acidity and fine tannins, the finish savoury. Intriguing but somehow not fully formed.

Editor’s rating: 89/100.

Spioenkop 1900 Pinotage 2018
Approximate retail price: R265
From Bottelary grapes and made as a tribute to mentor Francois Naude, previously of L’Avenir. 20% whole-bunch fermentation and matured for 11 months in French oak, 55% new. A floral top note before red and black fruit, a not unappealing hint of banana loaf and spice. Juicy and fresh with supple tannins – good fruit concentration plus zippy acidity and a nicely savoury, even slightly bitter finish. A very elegant rendition of the variety. Alcohol: 13.34%.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

Spioenkop Pinotage 2018
Live ammunition.

Spioenkop Pinotage 2018
Approximate retail price: R425

From Elgin fruit. Matured for 11 months in French oak, 80% new. Violets and herbs before red and black cherry, cinnamon and clove. Massively dense on the palate but not at all short of freshness, the tannins firm and grippy in the best sense. A forceful wine but equally wonderfully balanced, this has an effortlessness about it. Alcohol: 13.68%.

Editor’s rating: 95/100.

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