Situated high on the western rim of the Elgin Valley plateau, Shannon
Vineyards has released the latest vintages of its three site-specific
wines, now all with names taken from geographical features along the
mountain range above the vineyards.
Shannon Vineyards wines first came to prominence at Cape Wine 2008 (South Africa’s bi-annual showcase of its wine to international wine-trade and -media), when their maiden Sauvignon Blanc (2008) was one of the discoveries of the show. Since then its wines have gone on to something approaching cult status. The Mount Bullet has been in the spotlight lately when the 2008 vintage was awarded 5 Stars by the 2011 Platter’s Wine Guide, a most unusual occurrence for a varietal much maligned in South Africa. And, in 2010, Shannon Vineyards’ owners Stuart and James Downes had the vicarious pleasure of their pinot noir grapes winning a Platter 5-Star award for another winery in Elgin. Not that the Shannon Vineyards Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir need stand back for anyone – its first two vintages selling out shortly after release.
Shannon Vineyards “Rockview Ridge” Pinot Noir 2010
As with the Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc and the Mount Bullet, the Rockview Ridge Pinot Noir is named after the peak above the vineyards. The aim in the pinot noir vineyards is to produce grapes which generate a wide spectrum of flavours, and to express that all-important “texture” one finds in top-end pinot noirs. There are 12 different vineyard blocks of pinot noir, each vineyard with its different soil type being planted to pre-determined site-specific Dijon, Burgundy clones. Over five years have been spent researching the expressions of these different Dijon clones, producing a character profile for each block over the vintages. It is this vital vineyard information that helps Shannon Vineyards decide which blocks to select when deciding on the final Pinot Noir blend. For the 2009 harvest only 5 of the 12 pinot noir vineyards were used for the final blend.
Depending on the vintage slower-fermenting cultured yeasts are used for some of the fermentations but the majority of the blend is wild fermented with natural yeasts. After pressing, the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic fermentation and maturation, for 16 months, in 228l oak barriques - using a blend of three Burgundian cooperages. (New oak - 30%, 2nd fill - 40%, 3rd fill - 20% and 4th fill - 10%). The 14-month barrel maturation period is longer than normal for their Pinot Noir, to improve the oak’s integration.
The 2010 vintage Pinot Noir displays bright red fruit of strawberry, wild berry and rose on the aromatics. Brilliant vibrancy and freshness persists with a glossy concentration on the palate that is persistent. With a well layered and structured elegant finish, showing off great ageing potential. It can be enjoyed now or until 2020.
Approximate retail price: R250
Making Shannon Vineyards’ wine is in the very capable hands of Gordon Newton Johnson and his wife Nadia, of Newton Johnson Vineyards fame, with whom the Downes have a nine-harvest relationship. Stuart Downes and Bevan Newton Johnson (the older brothers in each family) have been friends since their university days. So when Newton Johnson wines started excelling with Shannon Vineyards grapes, it was a natural fit for Shannon Vineyards wines to be made close by at the Newton Johnson cellar in the Upper-Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
The new multi-level Newton Johnson cellar makes use of all the latest gravitational engineering principles and grape sorting techniques. This ensures that the clean fruit benefits from minimal handling, which continues throughout the winemaking process.
Shannon Vineyards is open for wine-tasting by appointment only, please call 021 859 2491, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website for further details: www.shannonwines.com.