This wonderfully ageworthy Chenin Blanc comes from the same five sites in the Swartland as it has since its maiden vintage in 2015. Barrel-fermented with full malolactic, it has amazing grip and minerality, with thatch, nutmeg and aniseed aromas, honey, baking spice and tarte tatin flavours and palate-cleansing acidity. 2022-28 95/100 Tim Atkin MW
Gabriëlskloof is a beautiful wine estate located near Bot River in the Overberg region east of Cape Town. It was purchased in 2001 by Bernhard Heyns, who had been on the lookout for the ideal place to plant vines. After planting, his first vintage was in 2009. We felt compelled to add Gabriëlskloof to our list because Peter-Allan Finlayson, Bernhard’s son-in-law, took over as winemaker from the 2015 vintage. The farm has 300 hectares, with 68 hectares planted to vines. The vineyards are farmed sustainably with the aim to move to organic farming in the future.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from five vineyards, four of which are located in the Swartland (Nuwedam, Nuweland, Uitvlug and Langkloof vineyards). The other, the Contermanskloof vineyard, is to the south in Durbanville. All of the vineyards are estimated to be over 40 years old. They are dryland bush vine vineyards and have never been irrigated. These vineyards are very labour intensive to farm and, as a result of the arid conditions, yield little fruit (between one and three tonnes per hectare). South Africa is the only New World country that has significant plantings of old-vine Chenin Blanc, and Elodie is an expression of what can be made from this national treasure.
2020 was still affected by the preceding drought years, which resulted in reduced yields. However, some winter rainfall began to replenish water reserves in the soil. The grapes underwent a perfectly paced, slow and steady ripening. Dry summer conditions resulted in small berries with good levels of concentration. Harvest was earlier than previous years, with cool conditions around harvest retaining crisp aromatics and fresh acidities.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed with no additions. After an overnight rough settling in tank, the juice was transferred to 400 and 500 litre old French oak barrels, followed by fermentation with wild yeasts only. The wine remained in oak for nine months before bottling.