Gabriëlskloof new releases

By , 15 June 2020



While Peter-Allan Finlayson limits himself to working with Chardonnay and the “heartbreak grape” that is Pinot Noir when it comes to his own label Crystallum, he is able to utilize just about everything else when it comes to the Landscape Series from Gabriëlskloof , the Bot River cellar owned by his father-in-law Bernhard Heyns and here the top-end wines mostly seem to go from strength to strength. Tasting notes and ratings for the new releases as follows:

Gabriëlskloof , Bot River.

Gabriëlskloof  Landscape Series Magdalena 2018
Price: R305
Finlayson is intent on positioning this wine more as a straight Semillon and less as Bordeaux-style white blend and hence the Semillon now makes up 85% of the blend (mainly from Franschhoek but also containing some own fruit) plus 15% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is subtle and elusive with notes of citrus, stone fruit and some leesy character The palate is focused and super-intense with a great line of acidity while the finish is long and dry. Less esoteric than before? That’s open to debate but this is wonderfully well realized.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Gabriëlskloof  Landscape Series Syrah on Sandstone 2018
Price: TBC
50% whole-bunch fermentation. The nose is quite heady with notes of lily, rose, red and black fruit, pepper and fresh herbs. The palate meanwhile is marked by excellent fruit density, fresh acidity and nicely grippy tannins. This has an opulence about it that perhaps the previous vintage did not and is just about irresistible.

CE’s rating: 96/100.

Gabriëlskloof  Landscape Series Syrah on Shale 2018
Price: TBC
50% whole-bunch fermentation. Red berries, white pepper and dried herbs on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with pure fruit, a lovely gentle acidity and fine tannins. Very elegant, this is not as concentrated and tannic as the previous vintage.

CE’s rating 95/100.

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Gabriëlskloof  Landscape Series Cabernet Franc 2018
Price: TBC
Finlayson picks ever earlier in an attempt to gain greater refinement but this appears a little underdone. A herbaceous top note before red berries. Light bodied  with vibrant acidity and fine tannins, this tends to towards being a little thin and severe.

CE’s rating: 90/100.

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4 comment(s)

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    Bernard | 15 June 2020

    Hi Christian,
    No Elodie tasted?

      Christian Eedes | 15 June 2020

      Hi Bernard, Eloise 2019 (Swartland Chenin for the uniniated) was presented, with diffidence, by the winemaker and let’s just say it looks a bit unsettled at the moment and I reserve judgement…

        Tim James | 20 June 2020

        That raises an interesting issue, Christian, one which intrigues me, I confess, as a taster who only too often feels reluctant to commit to a judgement. You obviously tasted the wine but didn’t report on it (We’ll “reserve judgement” about your uncorrected typo with the name!) Did you do similarly for the rest of the range or not? How often do you “reserve judgement” when tasting? You normally come across as enviably confident! And do you only hold back when, as you imply is the case here, your judgement is likely to veer towards the negative? Sunshine journalism for smart producers only or for all?

          Christian Eedes | 21 June 2020

          Hi Tim, Elodie 2019 (not sure where Eloise came from) is by the winemaker Finlayson’s own admission a very curious wine and I got the impression that he is in two minds whether it will be released. He showed it as a courtesy and I will happily score it if and when it becomes commercially available. In the meantime, I can say that it currently presents as super-herbaceous and not in an attractive way – it’s a character I’ve noted in one or two other examples of top-end Chenin recently and quite frankly don’t know what to make of it. One possible explanation is that it might be drought-induced but I would defer to the viticulturists in this regard.

          Other wines tasted were: Amphora 2019 – Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin vinified in clay pots, which I found a bit too green and angular (price: R180). Rating: 88/100; Wholebunch Syrah 2019 – shows aromatics of red and black fruit plus olive brine while the palate is light and fresh with crunchy tannins (price: R160). Rating: 89/100.

          For the record, not all wines tasted get written up – some simply have their scores are added to the ratings database. This is decided on the basis of topicality/potential reader interest.

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