Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse Cape White 2017


“As big as 2015, but more refined,” is how John Seccombe describes the 2017 vintage of this five-way blend of Roussanne, Chenin, Semillon, Chardonnay and Clairette Blanche. Seamlessly complex, with tangerine, citrus and considerable underlying depth. 2019-25 96/100 Tim Atkin MW

The aromas are of lime leaf, white peach, exotic woods, and sweet dried herbs. In the mouth, the wine starts broad and rich, resolving into a keen line of acidity supported by a gentle tannin with flavours of burnt sugar, orange flower and rooibos leaf.

‘Rocking Horse is our cornerstone wine and takes its name from a wooden rocking horse that we made for our daughters out of old oak barrel staves. This is our signature wine and it is where all our work comes together to make our most complete wine. The wine is composed from a number of carefully selected vineyard sites in the Western Cape. ‘ John Seccombe

Roussanne – 23 % Stellenbosch (10 years old) decomposed granite
Chenin blanc – 22% Paardeberg ( 38 years old) decomposed granite
Semillon blanc – 21 % Franschhoek (35 years old) alluvial soils
Clairette blanche – 17% Stellenbosch ( 35 years old) decomposed granite
Chardonnay – 17% Stellenbosch ( 15 years old) decomposed granite

2017 was a very dry vintage, but relatively cool, so despite the challenges of water stress, there was great quality to be found in our vineyards.

Our vineyard selection supports our vision to deliver a blended Cape White wine of depth, texture and subtlety. In sourcing Roussanne, Chardonnay, Semillon, Clairette blanche and Chenin blanc, we are looking for both heritage and young vineyards which all bring their own unique elements and ability to ‘speak’ about the place in which they are grown.

The winemaking remains simple. Our primary challenge during the harvest is to ensure that we pick all of our far-flung blocks at the right time and get them back to the winery in perfect condition. Once this is achieved, we revert to working with very little in the way of ‘winemaking technique’.

Picking is done early and based mostly on taste with an eye on the style of the wine that we’re aiming at. We are not looking for a big alcohol expression (nor a low alcohol one for that matter) and prefer subtle wines that show ripeness, while being restrained and elegant. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed and no treatments or additions are used on the juice. This hands-off regime on the juice really helps to develop the character of the wine.

The juice is then racked off the heavy solids and taken to old oak barrels of various volumes. The wines are fermented naturally, and they are allowed to then go through their subsequent malolactic fermentation. We watch them carefully for the next few months until they ‘settle down’, at which point we add some sulphur dioxide. Primary fruit is not what we are looking for here, rather we’re trying to show the underlying character of the grapes and the vineyard where they came from.

Alcohol – 13.54%
Residual sugar – 2.4 g/L
Total acidity – 5. 8 g/L
pH 3.39


5 in stock