#335 Natte Valleij “NAT” Pinotage 2023


👃🏼 The nose carries a very distinct burst of raspberries, cherry fruit, white pepper, and a greenish tinge of fresh sage. Anyone hoping for an icon-style 15% is going to be deeply disappointed. 
👄 To drive a final stake through any hope of an oak-corseted velvety, black fruit fest, the vanguard presents as a almost blinding array of bright red fruit; sour cherry, pomegranate, raspberry, even a slightly bitter ruby grapefruit. Tannins are youthful and grippy, but the acid leaves your mouth watering so uncontrollably that they don’t even come close to drying your mouth out.


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Grapes that are not so bright

If you want to get to know South African cinsaults, the Natte Valleij range of single-site, single-cultivar bottlings are a great place to start. They are not necessarily South Africa’s fanciest, and definitely aren’t the most expensive, but they ARE arguably South Africa’s most comprehensive range of single site cinsaults; really teasing out the impressive diverity than can be achieved by the cultivar, while maintaining a fairly minimalist winemaking aesthetic.
To achieve this, winemaker Alex Milner has had to master the art of “acid preservation” in the cellar. Primarily, because Cinsault is not blessed with naturally high acid, and secondly, because Alex’s winemaking ethos is decidedly left-leaning, avoiding additions like tartaric acid and cultivated yeasts, where possible.
The NAT Pinotage is Alex’s spectacular segue from Cinsault to Pinotage, applying a largely natural winemaking ethos, and seeking to produce a Pinotage that possesses the profile of a Pinot Noir, despite having in herited the natural acid of a Cinsault.

In our video, we do into detail over how Alex skillfully preserves natural acid, both in the vcineyards and in the cellar, and also give a little lesson on the role of potassium in winemaking.

Obviously, If you have yet to sign up for your Monthly HanDrinksSolo Wine Subscription then you won’t be able to sip along as we chat. So until you find a gap to hunt this wine down, I’ve left some technical specs and my tasting notes, to provide interim pleasure:


🔬 W.O. Darling. Pinotage 100%. 100% Whole Bunch.

Vines are planted into super-sandy soils in the Darling ward, on South Africa’s West coast. The vines are dry-land farmed, and the grapes are hand-harvested, before being fermented in open concrete tanks. Once the fermentation process has reduced the sugar levels to about 5 balling, the juice is removed from the skins and allowed to complete fermentation in a combination of concrete eggs and large-format foudre. The wines is matured for a further 8 months before bottling.

Alc 12.5% | T/A 5.8 | R/S 1.0 | pH 3.9 |
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