A range, not a single wine, is my Advent Calendar #17. One of the few producers in the Cape which specialises in making wines by the Methode Cap Classique, the classic Champagne process which involves a natural, secondary fermentation in the bottle to produce a fine sparkling wine.
Named for the Karoo Acacia, with its magnificent silver white thorns, an icon on the vineyards in Winter when the leaves are off both the vines and the Silverthorn. The Silverthorn, Vachellia karroo is also known as the Sweet Thorn or in Afrikaans, Soetdoring.
John and Karen Loubser are passionate, driven specialist in this style of wine. John is a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild, an association of some of the top winemakers in the country and also of the Cap Classique Association. The shale soils are similar to those in Champagne. When the snow is on the Riviersonderend Mountains, the vineyards, their mature Chardonnay vines have the low temperatures to give them a good winter sleep.
Advent Calendar #17 is the Silverthorn The Green Man 2015, which is a Chardonnay pure MCC, whole bunch pressed, some of it matured in small French oak barrels to fill out the flavour. For the second fermentation in the bottle, the wine was left on the lees for 24 months before the manual riddling took place, the wine was disgorged, corked with a natural cork closure and the wire muzzle applied.
Bottled in the traditional Champagne shaped bottle with the most elegant of labels. I the glass, it is a lively gem bright straw colour with green flashes. The fine bubbles, work their way to the top to form a crown around the glass. Lovely whiffs of green apple, minerals and fresh baked almond biscuits. Beautifully structured, superbly balanced, the lovely bubbles enhancing the crispness and the wonderful long flavours.
My first recollection of a Genie was at a British Pantomime of Aladdin and his lamp. As a little boy, I was enchanted.
John and Karen, have broken the tradition of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for a Rosé sparkling and used Shiraz which conjures up the flavours of the Middle East.
The grapes for The Genie were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed with a very low recovery rate of only 550 liters per ton – this ensures that no bitter tannins are extracted and leaves the juice with a beautiful light purple colour, which slowly during the processes changes into a cherry blossom pink. The Genie spent 15 months on the lees in the bottle before being disgorged and bottle under a natural cork closure and wire muzzle.
From a Champagne shaped bottle with a truly elegant label. In the glass, it is a gem bright pale amber pink with the finest of bubbles moving up to the rim. Whiffs of Turkish Delight and an undertow of sweet smelling roses and a tickle of the bubbles. On the palate, childhood memories of sherbet and red berries, creamy textured with a long ending.
Many of South Africa’s Wine Writers are very complimentary about this wine – a stunning Brut Rosé. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the classical Champagne blend, the grapes were gently pressed for the finest juice. Half the Chardonnay was tank fermented, the remaining component was French Oak Barrel matured. The Pinot Noir was tank fermented. A reserved component of Chardonnay which had spent 12 months in oak barrels was blended in to the final wine before it was bottled for the second fermentation. The wine lay for 42 months on the lees creating the complexity on the palate.
From yet another elegant Silverthorn Champagne shaped bottle with the most beautiful, and indeed, fitting label. In the glass, it is a gem bright light straw colour with the tiniest of bubbles rushing to the surface to form a crown at the edges. The aromas are rich and complex. Fresh baked Christmas stollen, red berry preserves and sweet tropical limes.
I am a great believer that MCCs should not be kept ‘for a special’ occasion. There are just so many times one could open a bubbly like this. With breakfast to start the day, midmorning as a refresher. At lunch with smoked fish and oysters, at sunset with fat roasted and gently salted almonds or fat green olives. At dinner with a fine butter roasted organic chicken.
There is one more to taste, and this is John’s wine made for the Cape Winemakers Guild Big Dog 11 2015. We will drink it on Christmas Day. This wine is named for Thena, John and Karen’s second Rottweiler. The first dog was Roc.
Read more about Silverthorn Wines – CLICK HERE