Thursday, April 04, 2019

Tasting the wines at Seven Springs, Hemel en Aarde

Seven Springs winery, up at the top of the valley, on the way to Caledon from the Hemel and Aarde has been inviting us to come for a long time and it was on our way as we headed home this week. They now have their own cellar and have done their first harvest in it and opened a tasting room. We received a warm welcome from Augustus Dale who has taken over from winemaker Riana van der Merwe, who has followed her heart to Australia. Gus, who is also a viticulturist, has had many years experience as a wine merchant in London and, after studying Viticulture and Oenology in Beaune, has worked in Burgundy, in St Emilion and in Bordeaux. He was one of the first to convert a French property in the region to an Organic culture. He is, like us, convinced that it is the future in wine
The small tasting room
We sat outside on the terrace as it was a lovely warm day
We were going to taste their current wines first and then do a barrel and tank tasting in the cellar with the new harvest’s wines that Gus has made. They do hold back their wines, so you taste older vintages. We tried their golden olive oil first, made from Frantoia olives, full and round, bitter on the end. The new vintage of oil is just being bottled. It is quite unusual to find a farm that holds back its wines and releases them when they are ready to drink; they have done the cellaring for you. The wines we tasted are the current vintages that are available

We began with the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. Green herbal notes on the golden nose, showing some age, lovely fruit on the soft palate of lime and granadilla, some complexity with lees on the end. R100
The Unoaked 2014 Chardonnay has almost Riesling notes with some orange zest on the nose. Clean on the palate, with limes and lemons. The 2015 is classic Chardonnay on the nose, peaches and cream and citrus. A rounded palate with long flavours of citrus and lime, good acid balance and minerality. R110
This area of the farm is very neat with great plantings!
The 2015 Oaked Chardonnay (R230) is clear with glints of pale gold. Bready on the nose with golden fruit and some smoke. Very satisfying on the palate with lime and peach notes; wood supports but doesn’t overtake. Lots of length with lemon, lime and peach fruit. A feminine Chardonnay with a nice hint of salt on the end palate
The Rosé, made from Syrah grapes (R100), is a pretty, coppery colour, and has nutty sesame notes which follow through on the palate. It has the weight of a full blown shiraz, good berry fruit, freshness and it slips down very easily. Definitely a food wine, reminiscent of southern French Rosés
The 2014 Pinot Noir (R155) has Roses, raspberries and red cherries on the nose with some forest floor. Very pretty. Clean, good cherry/berry fruit; it is ageing well and has nice warmth with that hint of salt on the end. To us, this identifies clearly as a Hemel and Aarde style Pinot; even though they are next to Domaine des Dieux, they are just outside the ward. Definitely worth its 4 stars in Platter and one to buy
The 2014 Syrah is shy at first with rich red, blackberry and black cherry fruit on the nose. On the palate, it is soft and sweet cherry jam with firm tannins and then intensely fruity, with length and minerality and that characteristic hint of salt on the end. Delicious, a definite food wine
Renico Botes, Seven Springs’ Senior Cellar Assistant assisting a Scottish customer in the tasting room
Into the new cellar we go!... Tasting wines which are developing and still fermenting is such a great experience. They never taste as they will when ready for bottling, but you can see, smell and taste the building blocks. You need to ignore the fermentation products like yeast and off flavours; they are natural and will adjust in the tanks and barrels. And you do have to remember never to swallow the yeasty wine; it can bloat you and give you gas for several days!
We were invited to taste the new vintage wines, first from the tank. This was the 2019 unoaked Chardonnay, still lots of yeast, lees and good fruit, with pear notes, and a good balance of sugar and acid
We tasted the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc which has been racked and is on gross lees. Yeast and peas and elderflower on the nose and palate at the moment point to something good. The 2019 oaked Chardonnay has been naturally fermented and was singing in the barrels! Yeasty, lees, bready, with white plum, limes, lemon and white peach flavours and soft sweet fermenting fruit. A typical Chardonnay
Some concrete eggs busy fermenting Chenin blanc; they owned by and stored for another winemaker
We tasted the Rosé from the tank. It is a little agricultural at the moment with lots of yeastiness, but beneath is the raspberry and, on the palate, it’s a silky Cherryade! Can’t wait to taste this when it has finished fermenting

Then some reds from the barrel. The 2019 free run Pinot Noir has smoky oak from the barrel, and lots of strawberry and raspberry flavours with a hint of salty liquorice. Another barrel (4th fill) had less oak, more lees, coffee on the nose with mulberry and hints of the wind and sea. Quite sophisticated already, lovely palate of cherry/berry, this is really impressive. Lynne is convinced that it will win future awards. Then we tasted the pressed juice. As Gus says, this is the backbone wine; the wine to add the tannins, minerality and depth and help to make the wine last a long time
The 2019 Shiraz will also be a blend of free run and pressed grapes. Smoked pork or gammon on the new oak barrel, hints of penicillin tablets, rich ripe and smoky, mulberries and cherry. The Press was richer on the nose with yeast aromas, some fruit acidity, cleaner, fresher, chalky and dusty. The 3rd barrel was 5th fill with free run juice, as Gus says, the flesh of the wine. Blackberries, cassis and white pepper on the nose; intense cassis on the palate, a classic in development
This was another great lesson for us in winemaking and its results. We are so grateful to Gus for all the time he spent with us. As the Irish say, very good Crack too! Looks like you have some great wines coming from this vintage, which was smaller in quantity, but produced good quality grapes, as most of the area have experienced

1 comment:

Tim Pearson said...

Thank you Lynne and John for this lovely post about Seven Springs. I sincerely hope you enjoyed your time at our winery and hope you also enjoyed our wines and hospitality. You are most welcome any time.
Best wishes from Shakespeare coutry
Tim Pearon