Thursday, September 10, 2015

Capensis 2013, a pleasant surprise from the Western Cape of South Africa

The Spire Collection is a curation of, and marketing vehicle for, the most esteemed wineries in the Jackson Family Wines portfolio. Last evening I attended a tasting of selected Spire Collection wines and, while a stellar array of wines was presented, the one which made the biggest impression on me was the 2013 Capensis, a Chardonnay from the Western Cape region of South Africa. This wine surprised me in that it was both excellent and from a region that I have had a hard time getting my arms around.

According to, this ultra-premium Chardonnay is a joint venture between Barbara Bank, of Jackson Family Wines, and Anthony Beck of Graham Beck Wines and was launched in 2014.

The 2013 Capensis is 100% Chardonnay (primarily clone 95) sourced from three different regions:
  • Fynbosch Vineyard Region
    • 1,719 feet elevation
    • Steep slopes
    • Clay soils
    • 60% of grapes used in the wine
  • Kaainansgal Vineyard Region
    • 2,484 feet elevation
    • 20% of grapes
  • East Bruwer Vineyard Region
    • Limestone soils
    • 20% of grapes.
The winemaker overseeing production of the wine is Graham Weerts. During the production process, some batches were inoculated while others were not. Approximately 45% of the finished wine was subjected to malolactic fermentation. The aging regime had 55% of the production aged in 100% new French oak for a period of 12 months.

The bottle we tasted last night had been decanted 40 minutes prior to the start of the tasting. In the glass it had a golden color, a testament to its oak treatment. The initial impresion was of burnt matches, vanilla, toasted oak, and smoke. After a while notes of honey dew and herbs caught the attention. On the palate smoke, coal, and a lemomy-lime acidity. Weighty. The 14.1% alcohol adds to a richness on the palate but also produces a slight burn. Lengthy finish.

Trey Christy of Spire Collection characterized this wine (I paraphrase) as a wine of promise rather than one at its destination. And I agree. This is a high-quality Chardonnay from the Chassagne-Montrachet school, more rich than mineral with the oak needing to recede further so that the underlying character of the wine can truly shine through. I bought 1/2 case of this wine at the $70 offer price.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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