Ahrens Family Swartland Black 2018
Swartland, Western Cape, South Africa
Syrah 75%, Carignan 25%
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, which was given its name by early settlers due to the post-rain dark colouration of the indigenous rhenosterbos plants that cover the landscape.
It's a now-classic 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! Red and black fruits, the black olive notes we know so well from this wine now, it's spicy and savoury but remaining smooth throughout.