Paper Kite 2016
Old Vine Semillon
One of the key heritage varietals in South Africa is Semillon, a grape variety that the modern wine industry was practically built on, but which now finds itself as a small presence in the viticultural landscape here. There are still a number of incredible, old Semillon vineyards in existence and we have been fortunate enough to work with some of them.
Paper Kite is our expression of old vine South African Semillon. In 2016 we were fortunate to work with two vineyards in Swartland and Franschhoek that are 52 and 85 years old respectively. These old clones of Semillon (including a tiny amount of Semillon gris dotted about the vineyards) deliver an expression of Semillon that is very much at odds with the modern, aromatic clones. The wines they produce are hauntingly beautiful and difficult to define.
The wine is rich, textured and complex, shows wonderful spice, floral and savoury tones, waxy lemon rind and vinous herbal / green fruit character of great length.
Nuts & Bolts
Semillon blanc and gris – Swartland – 52 year old vineyard on alluvial soil
Semillon and gris – Franschhoek - 85 year old vineyard on sandstone scree
Residual sugar – 1.6 g/L
Total acidity – 5.6 g/L
About The Wine
The 2016 vintage saw the Western Cape very much in the grip of a long drought, and the challenge was to pick the grapes early enough to retain what acidity was available, while still allowing them to ripen sufficiently. Being a hot, dry and early harvest meant that the grapes were extremely clean and healthy, with great concentration.
Semillon, especially from these old clone vineyards, has come to epitomise what we are seeking in our wines. It provides us with wines of texture and depth, with none of the facile primary characteristics that we see in so many modern clones.
As with all of our wines, the winemaking is incredibly simple, as we have no desire to stand between the vineyard and its expression as a wine in the glass. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed in an old basket press and there are no additions of sulphur dioxide made on the juice. A rough settling follows pressing after which the wines undergo natural alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in old oak barrels. We add some sulphur dioxide late in the winter, and then again at bottling, keeping the level of sulphur dioxide very low in the wine.