Paper Kite 2020

Semillons blanc and gris

Tasting Notes

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, and it is sourced from a 57 year-old vineyard in Swartland. 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 shows savoury aromas of chestnuts, nougat and nutmeg with the subtle, fresh pepperiness of wild rocket. The palate is full and rounded with marzipan and yellow melon notes balanced by a citrus spine that adds structure.

Nuts & Bolts

Semillon blanc and gris – Swartland – 57 year old vineyard on alluvial granite soil

WO Swartland
Alcohol – 12.98%
Residual sugar – 2.5 g/L
Total acidity – 5.6 g/L; pH 3.27

About The Wine

We were very happy to say goodbye to the drought in 2020 and it was a relief to be working with some water in the soils. That said, poor flowering conditions and depleted vine reserves meant that it was still a relatively small and challenging harvest for us. Ripeness was achieved relatively early in the season, disease pressures were minimal and crop levels were low in many of our dryland vineyards, so we were able to pick a lovely, concentrated crop.

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 very little of the overbearing primary fruit aromatics that we see in so many modern clones.

We’ve stuck with a very simple, natural formula for vinifying our wines in order to remain true to the vineyards that we work with. 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. Semillon has a tendency to become very reductive during maturation so we generally do some racking at the end of fermentation to leave the heaviest lees behind. 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. The wines are bottled without fining and filtration to provide as natural an expression of old vines Semillon as possible.