Position is so important when it comes to many things. For a Wine Estate it is critical. And so it is with Saxenburg Wine Estate in the southernmost part of the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. Situated in the first Polkadraai Hills north of False Bay, where cooling Summer breezes ameliorate the heat in the vineyards. Facing South, if you look to the right, you will see Table Mountain on the horizon. Here flows the cold Benguela current from the deep South Atlantic Ocean, so the Estate has a truly marine climate.
The Polkadraai Hills are made up of decomposed granite. Talking to Dirk van Zyl, the Estate’s Winemaker recently, we discussed the granitic soils which he said were different to those on the slopes of the Helderberg and the Simonsberg. Dirk said their soils make for feminine fruit as the granite is covered with a coarse topsoil with a clay underlay and has some ferricrete soils, also known as Koffieklip – a rough stony soil that looks like instant coffee granules. The Saxenburg Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard is right next to the Cellar so the trip from early harvest is a short one. Dirk told me that his wines are 70% to 80% red. He has 23 open top fermenters which allows him good flexibility in the cellar. Selected parts of selected block provide the quality of grapes Dirk needs for this wine. Fermented in open tanks with regular punch downs in the early stages of fermentation, and also pump overs of the fermenting juice over the ‘cap’ of grapes skins which form as they rise to the surface. There is a 2 to 3 week period of on skin maceration after fermentation before pressing. The wine is taken to 300 litre French Oak Barrels of which 40% were new, 40% were 2nd fill and the balance made up of 3rd fill barrels. Once this period of maturation is over, the wine is prepared for bottling.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle closed with natural cork. Elegantly, simply and descriptively labeled. In the glass, the wine is a rich opaque red plum at the heat which pales out to ruby at the edges. The aromas are of the expected blackcurrant with whiffs of mulberries and roadside brambles. The palate is delicate, a different structure with gentle tannins. From entry there is a lovely line of fine fruit acidity which goes through the rich, generous and multilayered red-fruited mid palate into the long and gently waning aftertaste. The ending is interestingly creamy with an undertow of coffee bean. An impressive glass of wine. At 5 years old it is eminently drinkable now though will reward you later with a couple of years of cool cellaring.
The Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is a perfect glass after dinner for some serious reflection. It is a perfect food partner and Alida Ryder’s Vegetarian Lasagna with Sweet Basil Pesto & Ricotta. Click HERE for her recipe.
Read more about Saxenburg Wine Estate, and buy wines direct from the website. Click HERE to get to the website.