Tshepang Molisana on Land's End
South Africa’s Elim Wine Valley is located roughly 40km from The Cape Agulhas, at the literal end of the continent’s land. The Cape Agulhas is a rocky headland that marks the southernmost tip of Africa. This geographic marvel is also where two mighty oceans, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
The geographically rich South Coast region also plays host to Land’s End Wines, produced by Du Toitskloof. Du Toitskloof is a Rawsonville-based cooperative winery that is a renowned brand as well as an innovative wine producer.
The South Coast Region, where Land’s End wines are grown and produced, is home to some of the most southerly vineyards in Africa.
Grapes that are sourced for Land’s End wines are selected from vineyards at the geographically unique southernmost tip of Africa. Wines that receive the appellation Wine of Origin Elim, are produced in the Elim ‘ward’ in the greater Overberg ‘district’. Wines that receive the appellation Wine of Cape South Coast, such as Land’s End wines are grown close to the Cape Agulhas and Elim region in the Overberg district. Vineyards in this region are grown in soils such as koffieklip (coffee stone), white quartzite, sandstone gravel and other soils. Rocky and sparse spoils are found in this area alongside some of South Africa’s most treasured fynbos.
For the brave viticulturists who have ventured to the southernmost vineyards of Africa, challenging conditions have produced rich rewards. The vines at Land’s End are deeply anchored in their rocky soils in pursuit of minerals and other organic matter, which has resulted in flavourful grapes.
The cool, maritime climate as well as its unique geographic location has resulted in exceptional expression of the varietals that have been selected from the Cape South Coast vineyards. The cool and pummeling ocean breezes in the Cape South Coast as well as the dampness of the air have required sagacity and tenacity from the Land’s End winemakers and Viticulturists. Land’s End Wines produced in these precarious conditions are characterized by lower alcohol levels and high natural acidity.
Land’s End Wines are embraced for their good aging potential as well as their magnificent varietal expression.
Land’s End Syrah
One such varietal is Syrah. The 2015 Land’s End Syrah is a cool climate marvel. The jewel-toned syrah shines in colour as well as on the nose and palate. 2015 Land’s End Syrah has a rich nose, with aromas such as black pepper, black cherry and sandalwood. Land’s End Syrah 2015 has a velvety mouthfeel, with fine tannins and bold flavours such as plum, cherry and other red fruits. This complex and bold wine has dexterously balanced acidity levels and a long, savoury finish.
According to Land’s End’s viticulturist and winemaker, the 2015 harvest season in the Southern Cape will be remembered as one of the best seasons in South African winemaking history. Harvest began two weeks earlier than usual in the region, while the ripening period that preceded it was cooler and drier than usual. This resulted in shiraz with exceptional colour, flavour and enviable acidity levels.
Land’s End’s winemaker says, “the vineyards for Land’s End Syrah are carefully selected and managed to produce spicy, peppery and black fruit characteristics supported by a fleshy and complex mid-palate. The delicate use of small, oak barrels enhances the shiraz fruit characteristics and ensures a long and lingering aftertaste. Land’s End Syrah is accessible from release, while it will continue to improve as it ages in the bottle.”
Syrah is a grape that originated in France’s Rhone Valley. However, continents away, at the southern tip of Africa, this aromatic and flavourful varietal has found favour at Land’s End.
Relentless coastal winds are not the only climatic conditions which affect Africa’s southernmost vineyards. According to Land’s End’s viticulturist, the long day length alongside moderate temperatures during ripening periods has a significant effect on the quality of the varietals grown in this area. Unique varietal expressions, low yields and the achievement of true physiological ripeness at moderate alcohol levels.
Low yields affect the resultant wine two ways. Firstly, the fewer grapes a vine produces, the richer the more minerals and water each grape receives from the soil from which it grows. This means that the resultant wine will likely be rich in character and flavour as the grapes are of higher quality. Secondly, because of the dampness in the air, the grapes are highly susceptible to challenges while on the vine. Low yields mean that each bunch can be monitored better while in the vineyard, which means that the quality of the resultant wine is of a more exceptional standard. The vineyards in the region selected for Land’s End have the longest day length ripening for any South African vineyard.
In addition, according to Land’s End’s winemaker, high natural acid levels make Land’s End a pleasurable drinking experience and also adds to the aging potential of Land’s End wines.
Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc
Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc is a testament to the potential of the cool climate vineyards at the Southernmost tip of Africa.
Sauvignon Blanc originated in France’s Loir Valley, but in the moderately cool Cape South Coast, the varietal’s tropical flavours and high natural acidity are exceptionally expressed.
Land’s End 2017 Sauvignon Blanc reveals an intense and complex nose. A crisp and aromatic wine, the Sauvignon Blanc’s reveals phenomenal tropical flavours while embracing the herbaceous nature of the varietal.
Land’s End 2017 Sauvignon Blanc reveals flavours such as gooseberry, melon, litchi, fig, asparagus, green fig and green beans.
High natural acid level results in the limited use of added acid,” according to Land’s End’s winemaker, who says, “this combination of low-yielding vineyards, high natural acids, and moderate temperatures during the ripening period also adds to the aging potential of the Sauvignon Blanc.”
Land’s End’s viticulturist adds, “the 2017 ripening period was characterized by cool nights and warm days, the grapes were exceptionally healthy. The natural acid and pH levels were outstanding during the 2017 season in the Southern Cape.”
For both Land’s End Syrah as well as Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc, the charming area near the Cape Agulhas has resulted in low yielding vines with true varietal expression, high natural acid levels and commendable aging potential.
Written by Tshepang Molisana | Images by Jenna-Leigh Storey