Damascene new releases

By , 12 October 2022

What a compelling project Damascene is turning out to be. A partnership between winemaker Jean Smit and David Curl, former owner of Bordeaux’s Chateau Gaby, grapes are sourced from around the winelands, the wines “born to express the way that man and place collaborate to form narrative”.

Damascene W.O. Swartland Chenin Blanc 2021
NEW. From Perdeberg vineyards on granite. Matured for 11 months in foudre and older oak. A flinty top note before pear, white peach and citrus plus hints of hay and oatmeal on the nose. The palate is supremely elegant and focused – pure fruit matched by a great line of acidty, the finish super-dry.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Damascene W.O. Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2021
Grapes from Bottelary vineyards featuring shale, greywacke and granite soils. Maturation as above. Very expressive aromatics of citrus and peach plus hints of honeysuckle and fynbos. The palate has a good core of fruit, zippy acidity and a pithy finish. Slightly more weight and texture than its counterpart above although describing it as “oily” is putting it too strongly. Layers of flavour.   

CE’s rating: 95/100.

Damascene Semillon 2021
From two Franschhoek vineyards, one planted in 1942 and the other in 1962. Maturation as above. Subtle aromatics of dried flowers, citrus, peach, blackcurrant, hay and some waxiness. Nice palate weight, slightly greasy texture and coated acidity. Well balanced with plenty of detail and a gently savoury finish.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Damascene W.O. Stellenbosch Syrah 2021
Grapes from three sites all on granite soils. 75% whole-bunch fermentation. Red and black berries, potpourri, cured meat and pepper on the nose while the palate shows good fruit density, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Great clarity and balance – seamlessly assembled.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Damascene W.O. Swartland Syrah 2021
Grapes from various Swartland sites featuring shale, schist, granite and ferricrete soils. 75% whole-bunch fermentation. Lavender, dark berries, olive, pepper and spice on the nose while the palate is wonderfully direct – lovely fruit purity and a great line of acidity before a finish that is long and very dry.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Damascene W.O. Cederberg Syrah 2021
From a high-lying vineyard on sandstone with underlying ferricrete. 45% whole-bunch fermentation. Top notes of flowers and herbs before blue and black berries, ripe plum, earth, spice and some flinty reduction. The palate is rich, round and relatively smooth textured – good depth of fruit makes this the most luxurious of the three examples of Syrah.

CE’s rating: 94/100.

Damascene Cabernet Franc 2021
From Bottelary vineyards on granite. The nose shows rose, red currant plus pretty and intriguing herbal notes while the palate is ethereal – light-bodied but not angular or attenuated. Great fruit purity and lively acidity before a finish that is long and dry but certainly not astringent. A precise wine but equally full of charm. Something of a revelation as to what can be achieved with this variety locally.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Damascene Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Grapes from Vlottenburg, Helderberg and Bottelary. Matured for 11 months in barrel of which 60% was new before a further 11 months in foudre. Red and black berries, some leafiness, violets and oak spice on the nose. The palate has real presence without being too forceful – good fruit weight, bright acidity and tannins that are wonderfully powdery. Intense and deep, this is still very youthful and packed away.

CE’s rating: 95/100.

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