Thursday, June 20, 2019

Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend 8. Silverthorn

A visit to Silverthorn, where talented winemaker John Loubser and his wife Karen have recently moved to their farm on the banks of the Breede River in Bonnievale, to set up a cellar where they will make his range of very special MCC bubblies. The 10.5ha family farm was bought over by the Loubsers in 1999. We are big fans of these wines and asked if we could call in briefly while we were in the Robertson area to see their new Tasting Room, which is nearly complete, and the new wine cellar, which was about to be erected

Thorns of the Fever Tree (Vachellia xanthophloea) which form the Silverthorn wine logo
John was at Steenberg winery in Constantia for over 15 years as cellarmaster and then General Manager and has produced some of South Africa's finest bubblies. He is a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and now wanted to concentrate on making more of his own brand, Silverthorn, which he launched in 2004, and which currently which has four MCCs. John qualified at Elsenberg as the Dux student and went on to work first for Môreson in Franschhoek and then back near the family farm for De Wetshof in Robertson. Two years working at Graham Beck's Robertson cellar with Pieter Ferreira followed. In 2001, he was offered the position of Cellar Master at Steenberg. Since then, John has never looked back. He won the prestigious ‘Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year’ in 2003
This is the new Tasting Room, almost completed and it will have one of the best views over the Breede River
of any of the wine farms we have visited. It will also be disabled friendly, with ramps
The family house. They currently have four Cap Classiques, namely The Green Man (Blanc de Blancs), The Genie (Rosé, from Shiraz), Jewel Box (Cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and, for the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, John has produced Silverthorn Wines Big Dog Méthode Cap Classique (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)
It is a family business: Karen, John's wife handling the sales, marketing and administration side of the business. Daughter, Faine, handles their social media, while son Tivon helps with wine shows and deliveries
We walk to look at the skeleton of the new cellar
Which now, a week later, already has its roof going on
Note the Green Man hung over the front door, portrayed as a human face surrounded by dense foliage;
he is a symbol of growth and rebirth
He appears in many forms in British, Celtic & Wiccan myth and is known right across Europe. Not unlike depictions of Bacchus
A potent emblem for Silverthorn and the Loubsers
John was busy painting and renovating the windows when we arrived. They are now installed
This is where you will get the marvellous view of the river below
We take a tour of the vineyards and see the limestone in the shale which helps to produce the best wines for bubbly
The sloping vineyards. John has some 75 year old Colombard vines that he intends to use for an MCC in the future,
as well as other vines which are more typically used for MCC
Thena the Rottweiler plays a supporting role. She is the Big Dog on the label
In the 2018 Tim Atkin Report on SA wine, Silverthorn wines scored impressively:
The Genie NV – 92 Points, The Green Man 2015 – 94 Points, Jewel Box 2014 – 95 Points
They treated us to a glass or two of The Jewel Box, named for the 100 vibrant stars called Kappa Crucis near the Southern Cross area of the Milky Way. They were nicknamed Jewel Box by the early 19th Century astronomer Sir John Herschel (1792-1871) who worked in the Cape between 1834 and 1838. It is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. And magic does come out of the bottle. Nutty on the nose with hints of strawberry and cherry and some citrus zest. On the palate it is classic with crisp creamy notes of brioche, crispness of citrus & apple with some richness from the reserve portion of Chardonnay which spent 12 months in old French barrels from the partial barrel fermentation on the reserve, exciting bubbles and a nod to good French Champagne in style
And John showed us the enormous bill (in Dollars) from an historic meal he had in the US in 2006
at the famous French Laundry Restaurant in California. He was a guest. Thankfully
The hospitable Loubsers

That view. Thank you both, we cannot wait to see the finished buildings
when you are open and up and running an a few months time

No comments: