Over the 67-year span since 1948, development of the Swartland Winery just
outside of charming and historic Malmsbury has kept a steadfast pace with the
maturing of its vine stock. Sprouting up from the undulating scrubland that these
vineyards occupy, un-trellised, gnarly bush vines personify the determined spirit
at work in the land’s nature and its prolific farmers; both are deeply rooted and
at home on the sprawling ranges of greater Swartland.
Thought of as the breadbasket of South Africa, this diverse agricultural zone in
the country’s Western Cape Province is conducive to crops of wheat, canola,
fruit orchards of all sorts and somewhat surprisingly: olive groves. For cultivation
of grapevines in the unirrigated, dry land conditions that exist at the periphery of
more arable parcels, there’s an unavoidable requirement for the wine makers to
perform a balancing act: Stressed vines inherently produce low yields of grapes;
sometimes too marginal a yield can result in small producers failing to achieve
commercially viable volumes of wine output. On the other hand, as a trade-off,
the very same factors in this arid terroir, desirably encourage the development
of far more interesting fruit; enriching the base – for the building of quality wines.
As evidenced by this week’s DéClassé recommended winery and their bottling of
a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend from 2013, this vintner has found
ways to imaginatively exploit the trade-off, as a strength in a challenging landscape
and business model. While taking into account that this is their entry-level wine,
it is nonetheless remarkable that it’s being made available at this price-point!
Cellarmaster Christo Koch evidently stands as a good example of the leadership
steering South Africa’s continuing renaissance of profile and competitiveness in
the global marketplace. Wisely, this current generation is dedicated to refining
the regional distinctiveness of character; reflecting terroir more directly in an
unfettered manner; largely eschewing production practices that might serve to
homogenize their wines. The latter trend is a difficult one to side-step, as a result
of commercial pressures and the employing of distinctive grape varieties which
originate from other regions. In short summary, the prevailing philosophy here
in Swartland’s estates seems to be: create appealingly rustic, honest wine that’s
reflective of soil and climate, with minimal processing interference. Bravo!
The blending of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is discernibly a near-Bordeaux
recipe that’s been adopted and skillfully adjusted to better suit how these grape
varieties ripen in South Africa. If you are a fan of the medium-bodied, red table
wines from the benchmark French region, then this will be very satisfying. If you
are not yet hooked, then this offering should build both affection and a deeper
appreciation for how well they’re able to craft it in Swartland. Enjoy now-2017.
SWARTLAND WINERY RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON/MERLOT 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product # 419648 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in: Swartland, South Africa
By: Swartland Wine Cellars
Release Date: September 5, 2015
This Ruby hued, medium-weight red has the expected red berry fruit flavours
and aroma typical of these grape varieties, accented with spice and Vanilla.
Preferably served with foods to balance its 14% alc. – try with grilled zucchini
and sweet peppers, pork or beef tenderloin medallions topped in a Madagascar,
green peppercorn sauce.