De Kleine Wijn Koöp Road to Santiago 2019
De Kleine Wijn Koöp began as a collaboration between some young blokes, making bona fide African wines sourcing grapes from around the Cape. Now the winemaker is the super talented Wynand Grobler and the range has gained greater focus and direction without losing any of the original irreverence and adventure.
Road to Santiago is a rather special wine, to put it mildly. It comes from the oldest vineyard in South Africa at Landau du Val, planted in 1905 and tucked away from the crowds in a quiet corner of the Franschhoek valley.
The low-yielding Semillon (South African clone GD1, aka Groendruif or 'green grape', the old Afrikaans name for Semillon) in this ancient vineyard is highly sought after by winemakers near and far. Wynand has been making the Road to Santiago for several years now, stretching back to his time as winemaker at Rickety Bridge, at the other end of town.
It has always been very well received and regularly garners 5 stars from the annual Platter's guide, including this latest 2019 vintage, and the last time he reviewed the wine, Tim Atkin MW gave the 2017 vintage 94 points.
And remarkable it is too. It is one of those great white wines that South Africa seems to be able to make in abundance, which approaches you without much fanfare but after the first few sips and some minutes in the glass gently but ultimately forcefully reveals its power.
The nose shows lemon & lime zest, some pineapple too; the palate has a thickly textured feel with tangy acidity and monstrous length.
Natural fermentation in old 225-litre French oak barrels, one quarter of it fermented on skins for 4 weeks (hence that extra texture and 'grip'). Maturation in barrel for 4 months. The oaking though is just structural rather than a dominant flavour.
Wines made from this vineyard are always in short supply. Wynand made just 261 bottles of the 2019 vintage and fewer than 50 made their way to the UK.