Paper Kite 2022

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 peat, blackcurrant leaf and black tea with undertones of seville orange marmalade and dark honey. The palate is focused with notes of almond skin and a honeycomb finish.

Nuts & Bolts

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

WO Western Cape
Alcohol – 13.16%
Residual sugar – 2.2 g/L
Total acidity – 6.3 g/L; pH 3.24

About The Wine

The 2021/2022 growing season was one of great contrast. A cold, wet winter and cool, wet spring were followed by an incredibly hot and dry January. Thankfully soil water reserves were sufficient to sustain our vineyard canopies. Diligent work in the vineyards averted the worst of the disease pressure created by the wetter spring conditions. The January heatwaves did cause some damage, but careful picking meant that what was taken into the cellar was of very good quality, and we are really happy with the balance achieved here.

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 into a mix of large new and smaller 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, and have begun to work with a short maturation time in large, new Austrian oak barrels to balance this tendency. 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.