Paper Kite 2021

Old Vine Semillon

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 58 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 grapes were pressed gently in an old basket press and fermented with wild yeasts in old oak barrels.The wine shows savoury aromas of ginger, soft yellow fruit and wood spice. The palate is full and rounded with almond flesh and yellow melon notes and a finish of cape gooseberry.

Nuts & Bolts

Semillon blanc and gris – Swartland – 58 year old vineyard on alluvial granite soil

WO Western Cape
Alcohol – 12.90%
Residual sugar – 1.8 g/L
Total acidity – 6.3 g/L; pH 3.24

About The Wine

2021 felt very much like we were passed the worst of the drought, though overall rainfall levels were still short of the long term average. Good flowering conditions for the Paper Kite vineyard saw us carrying a bumper crop for this vineyard (4.2 tons on 0.75 Ha is a big one for us). We waited a little longer in 2021 for the grapes to really ripen up nicely, as I have felt that having a slightly higher level of skin ripeness has really helped to build this wine up a lot in the last years, and produce something more complex and long-lasting.

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.

The only real change in the winemaking formula this year has been the addition of a couple of 500L barrels from renowned Austrian cooperage Stockinger. The Paper Kite Semillon 2021 spent a few months in these beauties, soaking up just enough oak tannin to help balance out the wine’s natural propensity to become reductive in barrel. It’s added a layer of richness and depth without any obvious signs of new oak influence.

For the rest of it, 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.