Spier ‘Frans K. Smit’ Stellenbosch Red Blend 2012
Spier Estate’s flagship wine comes from west and northwest-facing slopes of the Helderberg is the place where all the vines were grown, and all within a 10km radius, and produce only 6,000 bottles yearly. Decomposed granite soils retain water well, allowing for slow ripening and heightened mineral complexity. The area benefits from the cooling effect of the nearby Atlantic.
The balance, and the refined elegance of this blend, with its long finish, is the result of a growing season that goes down in my books as textbook perfect. A properly wet winter, some spring rain and a dry, mild summer allowed for longer hang-time, followed by quick picking.
Grapes are handpicked, De-stemming and hand-selecting all adds to a great taste, in the end. Every detail is crucial. The components were mostly fermented in small 600L roller fermenters for quite a long time on the skins, giving it time to settle and come into its own. Malolactic fermentation was done in barrel – a period of about 24 months on the lees in barrels. The difference grapes are then tasted, blended and sent back into the barrel for 4 to 5 months, before racking and bottling. This wine will show best at 10 years after harvest, and will complement rich red meat dishes like ribeye, beef roasts and smoky barbeque fillet steaks.
There’s superb balance between sugar and natural acidity. With all the grapes being of Helderberg origin, we were able to achieve consistency in style. Cabernet Sauvignon was everything we wanted it to be – and more – so we gave it dominance in the blend. Adding Cabernet Franc from a younger vintage in the final blend contributes a freshness and element of surprise.
Tim Atkin: 92Pts
Spier, near Stellenbosch, is one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms with a recorded history dating back to 1692, with a fascinating history and a legacy that the owners never take for granted. Today the farm has a modern, conscious energy. Focused on art and good farming, Spier is about farm-to-table food and accoladed wines. Its people are committed to living and working in ways that bring positive change to the environment and community.
Their free-roaming livestock and chickens are reared in pastures without the use of antibiotics or hormones, while fruit, vegetables and vines grow without artificial fertiliser or pesticides. Extensive tracts of alien vegetation have been removed, and more than a million indigenous plants replanted. 100% of black- and grey-water and more than 98% of solid waste is recycled. The farm is organically certified and was awarded Conservation Champion status by WWF-SA.
Continuing a long-held tradition, Spier is owned and managed by the family who bought the farm in 1993. They live on the farm and work hands-on with the farming and leisure operations, together with Andrew Milne, who directs the business.
Merlot & blends