Alheit Vineyards, La Colline Sémillon 750ml 2018South Africa, Franschhoek
'Everyone that buys grapes from Anton Roux's 1936 Franschhoek Vineyard makes an exceptional wine with them. Combining Semillon and small amounts of Semillon Gris, this is a herbal, waxy, multi-layered delight with notes of camomile and green tea and dense, focused flavours. 2022-28.' – Tim Atkin SA Special Report 2019, 96/100
'From Franschhoek Semillon. As ever, some reduction before white peach, naartjie, red apple and a hint of waxiness on the nose. A bit of a brute on the palate – dense, full and very flavourful with a slight bitter quality to the finish. Lots going on but perhaps slightly less refinement that previous vintages.' – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za, 94/100
La Colline is farmed by Anton Roux, a direct descendant of the Huguenot refugee Paul Roux who arrived in Franschhoek in 1688. This vineyard was planted by Anton’s grandfather in the year 1936 on the southern slope of Dassenberg. It’s situated between 310 and 350m above sea-level. During summer, these tightly planted bushvines form a slightly wild looking mess of life and grapes. In winter they resemble a crowd of drunkards cart wheeling across the slope. It is a beautiful old thing.
As is typical in the Cape’s older Semillon vineyards, there are some dark skinned Semillon vines inter-planted with the light skinned Semillon. This oddity is virtually extinct in the rest of the world, and so affords us a chance to make something uniquely South African. Not all of the old Franchhoek Semillon vineyards are planted on good sites, but La Colline certainly is. The vineyard is a joy to work with. At this age, the vines are very settled, giving a dependable crop of perfect little yellow and pink pearls of flavour. The wine it produces has a remarkable depth and mouthfeel. It’s not easy to define what makes Semillon such a great grape or such an interesting wine, but it’s an indispensable part of Cartology.
From 2014 onward we started bottling parts of this vineyard as a Single Vineyard wine. The first rendition was called Arrow Heart Semillon, made mostly from the dark skinned grapes, or Semillon Gris (this oddity still grows in some of the Cape’s older vineyards, though it’s virtually extinct everywhere else on Earth). The resulting wine was strange in a good way and good in a strange way. From 2015 onwards, we made the decision to simply pick the grapes just as they grow in the vineyard and whole bunch press them all together. The resulting wine is somewhere around 10 or 15 % Semillon Gris, the rest Semillon Blanc.
The main reason for this change in approach is that we feel like it’s a better, or truer reflection of the old vineyard, and perhaps closer to what a dry Cape white wine may have been like back in the 1800’s. We think it’s important to respect this, and to make a wine that speaks about the place in its entirety.
|Drink To||Long-term cellar|
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AG: Antonio Galloni of Vinous.com | AM: Allen Meadows of Burghound.com | CE: Christian Eedes of Winemag.co.za | DEC: Decanter | GS: Greg Sherwood MW | JR: JancisRobinson.com | NM: Neal Martin of Vinous.com OM: Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show | PG: Platter's Guide | ST: Stephen Tanzer of Vinous.com | TA: Tim Atkin MW | VIN: Vinous.com | WA: Wine Advocate | WE: Wine Enthusiast | WM: Winemag.co.za Report | WS: Wine Spectator