Riesling 2020
Paul Cluver
Region: Elgin
Country:South Africa

International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2020, 93 pointsDecanter 2021, silver
Tasting Notes

Lemon-lime citrus on the nose and palate. A whiff of petrichor and minerality, with some slightly tropical notes. Along with the lemon-lime, flavours of red apple flint are supported by tons of lip smacking acidity and mineral salinity. Serve chilled with Thai takeout or grilled spiced prawns.

One of the wine world’s great white grapes, Riesling is best grown in cooler climates where it thrives from a long, slow growing season that develops its intense aromatics and renowned acidity. It is home in Germany but is also grown successfully throughout the wine world, notably in the Alsace region of France, cooler areas in Australia and South Africa and, of course, here in Ontario. Styles vary according to site and producer – from sweet and fruity to bone-dry and austere and everything in between.

Elgin is the coolest growing region in South Africa, with temperatures rarely rising above 30°C during the growing season. With only 800 ha. under vine, it is also one of the smallest and least planted, as the rocky terrain, cool temperatures and low rainfall make growing grapes a challenging endeavour. Sitting amongst the Hottentot-Holland mountain range, the soils are a mixture of sandstone, decomposed shale, gravel and clay. Due to the precipitous diurnal temperature drops, viticulturists have eschewed the traditional red Bordeaux varieties favoured throughout most of South Africa, planting instead delicate Pinot Noir and altitude-loving Syrah. The most widely-planted white is Sauvignon Blanc, but the future of the region lies in Chardonnay, with world class examples being crafted. Riesling plantings are increasing and showing tremendous promise. Elgin wines tend to be high in acidity, with evolved flavours, as the long hang times allow full phenol development.

The De Rust Estate vineyards of Paul Cluver Family Wines sit on an inland mountain plateau, nestled in the UNESCO Koelberg Biosphere Preserve. Rising between 400-660 masl, they are a mix of the famed Bokkeveld Shale (sandstone rich with invertebrate fossils, clay and loam) and Fericrete gravel (rich in iron oxides). Subject to early morning mists, cool evenings, low rainfall and long sunlight hours, yields are small but high in quality. The vineyards are farmed sustainably, without the use of pesticides and with as little human footprint as possible. The Estate Riesling comes primarily from 33 year-old vines in fericrete, with a small amount coming from the shale in the rest of the vineyard.

Hand selected bunches are brought to a sorting table, where grapes with any rot are tossed. Fermented using selected yeasts in stainless steel, with 30% fermented in large, old, oval oak vats. During fermentation, a portion is stopped, which will then be blended back into the wine to add primary fruit and a hint of sweetness. The rest is fermented to dry, then aged on its lees for 7 months for added complexity.

Wine Type: White

Variety: Riesling

Classification: AOC

Orientation: East – West

Appellation: N/A

Gradient: Flat

Soil: Fericrete

Farming Practices: Sustainable, no use of pesticides

Residual Sugar: 16,44 g/l

Alcohol: 12

Malolactic: No

Botte Size: 750 ml

Acidity: 7,4 g/l

Other Practices: Sustainable