Top drinking pleasure from the bottom of Africa
Written by Mike Froud, Top Wine SA
From the most southern vineyards in Africa, Land’s End presents wine lovers with white and red options unique in terms of their origin, delicious as regards their flavour profiles.
The grapes are harvested when they are just right, with the winemakers leaning on technology for analysis of the fruit but also relying on their years of experience on the land where the daylight hours are longer than anywhere else on the continent, where the cool sea breezes and south-easterly winds enhance the characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz grown just minutes from the crashing waves and rock pools of the South African coast.
So close to are the low-yielding vineyards to where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, an image of the Cape Agulhas lighthouse was a logical choice to include on the labels of Land’s End – a place of beauty and wonder but also one greatly respected by passing seafarers, not all of whom navigated across these treacherous waters without incident! (The lighthouse was the second to be built in South Africa, after that of Green Point in Cape Town)
And the grapes are well-travelled, trucked over hundreds of kilometres from the winelands of the Cape South Coast to the winery of Du Toitskloof outside Rawsonville in the Breedekloof district. Innovative winemaking techniques are involved in maintaining the cold chain after picking and throughout the crushing and destemming process prior to fermentation.
With the Sauvignon Blanc, the emphasis in the cellar is to preserve the delicate varietal flavours, in part by way of reductive winemaking techniques. Whereas with the Syrah, as Du Toitskloof prefers to call their Shiraz, plenty of time is allowed for flavour extraction before fermentation on the skins, followed by 18 months’ maturation in 300L barrels – about 20% new oak, mostly European, a small percentage of American. The aim is to retain the subtle, spicy flavours and to guard against the wood becoming overpowering.
Land’s End Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Classic Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 vintage “exudes a bouquet of wild tropical fruit intermingled with hints of flint and freshly-picked herbs,” say the winemakers. “These flavours lead to a luscious mouth-filling palate of ripe kiwi fruit and Cape gooseberry with a long mineral finish.”
You might also detect notes of passion fruit, litchi, melon and fig. Great to enjoy with a variety of seafood, poultry and salads, especially good with crayfish, oysters or sautéed asparagus spears.
(Alc 12.6, RS 3.8, TA 6.2, pH 3.1)
Land’s End Syrah 2015
The Land’s End Syrah is typically spicy, peppery, with black fruit characteristics. The winemakers describe the 2015 vintage as having “rich aromas of black cherry, sandalwood, truffle and black pepper with a hint of roast beetroot.”
Expect a “soft velvety palate with silky texture and fine tannins, plum and cherry fruit, with a long, savoury finish.” The delicate use of small oak barrels enhances the varietal character, contributing to a lingering aftertaste.
(Alc 13.9, RS 2.9, TA 5.7, pH 3.5)
High natural acidity makes for good drinking on release, but also plays a role in the ageing potential of these wines with moderate alcohol levels. The Syrah, in particular, is expected to improve with bottle-maturation, although it has already been attracting good reviews in its youth: a gold medal for the 2015 at the Michelangelo Awards (SA), for example; silver at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (UK). The current-release 2017 Sauvignon Blanc has also impressed the critics, matching the achievements of the Syrah at Michelangelo and the IWSC.