Ahrens Family Swartland Black 2017
Swartland, Western Cape, South Africa
Syrah 70%, Carignan 10%, Grenache 10%, Cinsault 10%
Albert drives up to 40,000km every year between a plethora of vineyards in the Cape, sourcing only the very best grapes for his growing range of tiny-batch wines. One of the early voices of the Swartland revolution while winemaker at Lammershoek, Albert has remained quietly and confidently under the radar building his own projects, while also working abroad in Priorat, the Rhône valley and Champagne.
This wine's name refers to the "black land", or Swartland. It's a Rhône-style blend from carefully selected bushvines spread across six sites in the Swartland (see photo of Albert lying down in one of them), naturally fermented and matured in old 225-litre tight-grain French oak barrels for 12 months, the objective being gentle micro-oxygenation rather than adding oaky flavours. Albert's cellar is laid out in order to allow each component to spend sufficient time separately on skins in order for the tannins to stabilise and eliminate the need for fining agents.
Dark, brooding nose, spice, unexpected lightness of touch, silky soft, so easy-going for a red this young! Blackberries, dark olives and raspberries intermingle with fynbos and black pepper. Quite simply brilliant, the now-classic Swartland red blend. Get that rib-eye off the braai!