“This is really a phenomenal South African wine for the money showing such delicacy yet also power. The nose boasts plenty of iodine, crushed stones, balsam, violets and hints of sweet herbs. The palate’s full and exuberant with mouth-coating tannins and a long finish. Best in 2020.” – 95 points, James Suckling (November 2017)
Well here is an interesting discovery and particularly good value since we found a final 78 bottles on a “close out” list. Sometimes this is the case when the American consumer overlooks unknown wines from South Africa in particular. My curiosity got the best of me when I learned this was a red blend of Syrah (48%), Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), and Petit Verdot (10%) sourced from the Helderberg Mountains just a short distance from the ocean in Western Cape’s renown Stellenbosch region. In particular, this is where one finds the iconic de Trafford winery and vineyards which produce such beautiful Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Then again, how often does one find an evolved seven year old wine just sitting there for the pickings?
Not that this wine should be compared with other Stellenbosch notables like Mvemve Raats (MR), or more recently the discovery of Leeu Passant, as Syrah plays the lead component in the Anwilka, but the majority of the varieties are Bordeaux styled in this compelling blend. And it is not fair to compare price, because what once was $56 is now just $41.95.
However, of particular note are the original partner-players involved! Established back in 2004, Anwilka began as a joint venture between Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus (St-Emilon), Bruno Prats of Chateau Cos d’ Estournel (St-Estephe, two of Bordeaux’s most respected producers, and Lowell Jooste whose family owned the famous and historic estate Klein Constantia in one of the coolest growing regions of the Western Cape from 1980 until 2011.
The grapes are thrice sorted! Yes, first by hand selection in the vineyard. Then by individual bunch-clusters, and finally sorted by individual berries after de-stemming. Gravity fed to temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, where a long maceration and an extended fermentation take place with many gentle pump overs for maximum extraction. Each varietal receives the same treatment and each is aged separately in 50% new French oak barrels for 6 months. At the end of 6 months, the three wines are assessed and then assembled where they return to the barrels for another 9 months of melding.
One is first drawn to the dark scarlet nearly opaque color of the wine. Aromas of black fruits, Cornas granite-like minerality, spice, savory meats, and violets are interwined. On the palate the wine is mouth filling, firm but lush with comforting grainy tannins that extend into the long finish. Balancing acidity keeps this wine fresh with vitality. Really a joy to drink now, but will continue to cellar. Not as rigidly structured, but there is a definite resemblance to the far more expensive Domaine Trévallon from Baux-de-Provence in France.