John Platter - 2004/2003
South African Wines - John Platter
... You'd expect a legal eagle to maintain focus, but it seems Stephan du Toit's has intensified since buying this rolling former fruit farm in the Hawequas foothills. "I always wanted to make top-class red wine," he says. "And not just another international cab." Gone now are the orchards - avenues of young olive trees have been planted - ditto the old vineyards. "Raus,Raus!" said consultant Bernd Philippi as he stepped on to the farm in 1997; he and another top German winemaker, Bernhard Breuer, pay a few visits annually to liaise with young local winemaker Pieter-Niel Rossouw. A spread of red varieties has now been planted - including mourv'edre, tempranillo and alicante bouschet. Though busy in Johannesburg, du Toit now involves himself in all the fine-tunning and even looks set to joust with his consultants - over alicante. "Not my wine," he laughs,"foxy flavours, I find." Philippi's contention: you only need to add a little je ne sais quoi. A label which helps confirm what some long suspected, some knew, and a few have shown - Wellington can grow terrific reds.
****1/2 Mont du Toit 2001
One of SA's new, unmitigated quality red blends - cab, merlot, shiraz,cabf, combining layered, dense complexity with power. In 99, intense, dark hues match ripe fruit - cassis, mulberries - & minerally width on palate. Solid 22+ month barrel maturation (30% new) imparts loads of spice. Seriously minimalist cropping, cellar handling, filtration show in density. (This wine prompted Michael Franz in the Washington Post to single out SA as among Bordeaux's most serious New World challengers.) 00 firmer, bigger, fruitier; may remain more immediately impressive than 01. These deserve about 4-6 years wait.
****1/2 Le Sommet 2000
Selected blocks, barrels & vintages reserved for this bold, individual blend, where winemakers' artistry gets/gives full reign. Philippi's dictum "eruptive fruit" guides process from berry to cask. Includes cab, merlot, shiraz. 00 & pvs with no-nonsense 15% alc. - low (3-6 tons/ha) yields encouraging extreme ripeness. Extended ageing (+/- 2 yrs) in Fr oak. Flaunts hot, wild heather, hay qualities, shiraz showing. First was 98, packed with cassis & choc, sweet vanilla spice. No 99.
***1/2 Hawequas 2002
(Has not been tasted in Platter 2004 in relation to earlier vintage (now sold out)): Poured as wine-by-glass at some of Gauteng's swankiest restaurants. 00 mix cab s/f, merlot. Shiraz creeps into 01 (**1/2) blend which shows as sweet, porty, with firm acidic finish. 13,5%alc. 3300 cs