Seasoned soil scientist Dawid Saayman has encountered his share of Cape vineyards but what stands out for him about Klein Simonsvlei, a source of Nederburg’s celebrated Private Bin R163 Cabernet Sauvignon, is the ancient, structurally sound, and deep, weathered red soils derived from granite.
“These Simondium soils are extremely old. They are good at absorbing water. They are stable and provide a cool ambient temperature for the roots, giving them the room to extend far, far down and grow old. This is an ideal home for dry-farmed, long-lived vines, vines that yield small berries and deliver well-balanced, rich, and concentrated flavours.”
The vines were planted in 2002. “Each year brings greater depth of character to the grapes. We know vines do not respond well to climate shocks. Fortunately, these soils protect the plants from extremes. That they could produce such fine fruit in 2018, after several years of drought, is ample proof of this. Only happy vines can produce berries of this calibre!”
He is not wrong. The current release 2018 vintage earned a Master medal at this year’s TheDrinks Business Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters series. The wine was also deemed one of the publication’s top 12 Cabernet Sauvignons of the year (the only South African Cabernet Sauvignon on the list), rubbing shoulders with the likes of iconic Trefethen and Penfolds.
Master of Wine, Patricia Stefanowicz, based in the UK, described the wine as “gorgeous” and “full and rich, packed with bramble and smoked meat flavours”, adding: “Fresh acidity and dense tannins balance the generous alcohol, and hints of dark chocolate and vanilla bean accent the long finish.”
The soil is only part of the story, though. “This succulent and supple-bodied wine brims with flavours of black and red fruit,” says cellar master Samuel Viljoen. “It’s fragrant with spice but poised, plush-textured and structured to age in style.
“Cabernet is our signature grape. We give it very close attention and in the case of this top-tiered wine, especially so. We are also proud that the 2009 vintage of the R163 won the Cabernet Sauvignon trophy at Michelangelo this year. We’re talking about a 13-year-old wine that’s just getting into its stride. We hope the 2018 vintage can look forward to a similar future.”
The north-west facing vineyard, 300 to 400 metres above sea level that Saayman describes, is one of two in Simondium earmarked for this wine. The other is situated in yellow, granitic soil, established in 2008. It also is structured for deep root penetration.
Both vineyards were hand-harvested, with pickers going through the rows several times as the widely contoured blocks make for different ripening times in each instance. In the cellar, both roto tanks and open-tank fermenters were used to provide varied levels of flavour extraction.
Once fermented, the wine was drained from the skins and racked into a range of new French oak barrels for 29 months before assemblage.
“Complex, intense but elegant and fine-grained, it offers one of the most exciting expressions of our specialty grape. It is a privilege for us to make it,” adds Viljoen.
Only 1 900 bottles of the Nederburg Private Bin R163 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 were produced, now available on allocation to purchase for R495 via Vinoteque.co.za. Click here to buy.
Click here to view a video featuring soil scientist Dawid Saayman, commenting on the soil at Klein Simonsvlei in Simondium.