Our trip to the vineyards of Stellenbosch some years ago was a real hit. Thank you, Maja and WOSA for that! However, even if the visit list was more than long, there was one producer that we would have loved to add to the program. A faithful performer, who has followed us for a long time. A producer who, for a long time, made just one single wine.
The first contact with South Africa as a quality producer was for us some time in the 90ies. We took the car to the well-stocked monopoly store in the big city and purchased a couple of boxes assorted South African wines. A review of the then well-known wine critique Anders Röttorp in the paper “Dagens Industri” had aroused our interest. There were a lot of goodies in those boxes, excellent wines, excellent to store. Renowned Meerlust, vintage à la end 80ies were among others included in the collection. It was not too long ago that the last bottle was poured with great satisfaction.
This time we are thinking of another producer. Jacobsdal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I think the 1995 vintage was the first we tasted. An old product sheet, left in the cellar beside the current collection, points to that. Anyway, the very first Jacobsdal Pinotage warmed our wine hearts to the point that it is now a permanent inhabitant in the cellar.
Brother Jacob likes to sleep long in the dark shelves of the wine cellar. Readily 10 years, up to 20 some recommends, but the fact is that it is hard to resist to pour at once. We have reached vintage 2008 in our glasses, which despite its seven years feels a bit freshly roused on the nose.
Jakobsdal Pinotage 2008 may be young on the nose, but seduces with delicious fruit and silk on the palate:
Beautiful red, medium intensity. On the nose youthfully restrained. On the palate nice dark fruitiness, loads of dark red cherries. Add a spicy touch, a pinch of interesting chemistry and well-integrated oak. Almost full-bodied, but at the same time stylish slender. The tannins are present, but plays discretely. Excellent structure and balance, and that lovely texture. A titbit with gorgeous length. As drinking silk, saturated of fruit.
On the summer a perfect pairing to grilled meat. In the darker parts of the year to casseroles, game and roast. We love to sip it just as it is, but have got a reaction from friends of the more simple, fruitdriven style. When they had the first glass “cooking wine”, they wondered what we had recommended, but when the food reached the plates they totally loved the wine.
The Jacobsdal Pinotage was born when Cornelis Dumas, at his father’s rapid demise in 1966, 21 years old had to stop his university studies and assume the responsibility as winemaker and owner to Jacobsdal. He was forced to quickly change the main production of fortified wine to table wine in order to keep up when the market winds turned. Today Cornelis has got assistance of his son, Hannes Dumas.
For a long time, the Pinotage was the only wine from Jacobsdal. So when a Cabernet Sauvignon was released in the beginning of the millennium that was something of a surprise for the market.
The Pinotage grapes are harvested from organically managed bush vines grown on gravelly, sandy loam not far from False Bay. The 85 hectares of vineyards are not irrigated, a fact that contributes to give small berries with a big concentration of flavours. The yield is also kept low by tough pruning.
Interesting is that the must is fermented without any addition of yeast, something very unusual in South Africa. The fermentation is made in big open concrete vats, manual punch-down with use of homemade wooden poles. After fermentation the wine matures in French oak barrels for 18 months. The approach is as little interference in the process as possible, a “natural wine approach” it perhaps could be called. Irrespective of which label one selects to use about the method, the result speaks for itself. Delicious!
This summer we will enjoy some more 2008 to the barbecues and keep the remaining bottles for some time. Future consumption is also secured. The cellar is recently refilled with vintage 2011. And that little boy will not be roused for morning prayer in many years.
On the Swedish monopoly, Systembolaget: Jacobsdal Pinotage 2011, no. 22050, 115 SEK (July 2015).
Link to Jacobsdal’s hemsida.
The headline of this post is a play with the Swedish title of the originally French nursery rhyme “Frère Jacques”, translated to Swedish as “Broder Jakob” and in English “Brother John”. However, a literal translation of the French should be “Brother Jacob”. Read about the monk, who is sleeping instead of attending the morning prayer, on Wikipedia.