One of the most talked about new wineries in South Africa is Chris and Suzaan Alheit’s Alheit Vineyards, a new venture based in Hemel en Aarde, but sourcing grapes from all over the place. Chris and Suzaan work just with white grapes, mainly Chenin Blanc but also a bit of Semillon, and their debut wine, Cartology 2011, made a big impact on its release, getting some hefty critic scores.
From his Hemelrand cellar in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley above Hermanus, Chris Alheit continues to produce a stand-out – and growing – range of wines from parcels of cherished and nurtured old vineyards.
From Franschhoek Semillon. As ever, some reduction before white peach, naartjie, red apple and a hint of waxiness on the nose. A bit of a brute on the palate – dense, full and very flavourful with a slight bitter quality to the finish. Lots going on but perhaps slightly less refinement that previous vintages.
La Colline is farmed by Anton Roux, a direct descendant of the Huguenot refugee Paul Roux who arrived in Franschhoek in 1688. This vineyard was planted by Anton’s grandfather in the year 1936 on the southern slope of Dassenberg. It’s situated between 310 and 350m above sea-level. During summer, these tightly planted bushvines form a slightly wild looking mess of life and grapes. In winter they resemble a crowd of drunkards cart wheeling across the slope. It is a beautiful old thing.
As is typical in the Cape’s older Semillon vineyards, there are some dark skinned Semillon vines inter-planted with the light skinned Semillon. This oddity is virtually extinct in the rest of the world, and so affords us a chance to make something uniquely South African.
Not all of the old Franchhoek Semillon vineyards are planted on good sites, but La Colline certainly is. The vineyard is a joy to work with. At this age, the vines are very settled, giving a dependable crop of perfect little yellow and pink pearls of flavour. The wine it produces has a remarkable depth and mouthfeel. It’s not easy to define what makes Semillon such a great grape or such an interesting wine, but it’s an indispensable part of Cartology.
As ever, some reduction before white peach, naartjie, red apple and a hint of waxiness on the nose. A bit of a brute on the palate – dense, full and very flavourful with a slight bitter quality to the finish. Lots going on but perhaps slightly less refinement that previous vintages.
Origin: Western Cape/South Africa