african wine, part 12
Schoone Oord, Voor-Paardeberg, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 869 8340, Fax: +27 21 869 8383
to the wines of Tania and Willi de Waal (above), with their boutique
Scali operation. They’re fifth generation grape growers on the
Schoone Ord farm in Paardeberg. They began making wine in 1993, with
just 50 litres; in 1997 they
made a whole barrel of Pinotage, and in 1999 they scaled up to 20
barrels, which I guess you could say is their first proper vintage.
The name Scali comes from the Afrikaans for shale, the predominant
soil type here. As well as making Pinotage, they also produce a
is as simple as it comes here; most of the effort takes place in the
vineyard to get the grapes just right. The grapes are harvested into
10 kg crates, cooled overnight, crushed and destemmed into open
fermenters, and then given a week’s prefermentation maceration at
low temperatures with a carbon dioxide blanket. Fermentation is
natural or inoculated, with regular pigeage, with some post-ferment
maceration. The wine is then basket pressed into barriques where the
malolactic fermentation completes.
the Scali wines was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It’s not just
that they’re very good; it was also that this was the first time
I’ve tried a Pinotage that I’ve really liked. I admit it, I’d
become biased against this grape. I’ve drunk a lot of Pinotage,
and I’ve tried as hard as possible to keep an open mind about it.
But a succession of disappointments had led me to question whether
there was any merit in this grape at all, other than for making
large volumes of gluggable, plummy, juicy inexpensive quaffing wine.
problem with Pinotage is the viticulture’, says Willi de Waal.
‘The difficulty is that there is often underripe fruit and
overripe fruit together, along with overcropping’. This leads to
bitterness and greenness alongside very sweet fruit flavours in the
same wine. Not nice. Willi adds that, ‘it’s a variety that we
don’t understand fully.’
Sadie, who was also at the dinner, agrees. ‘It’s a complex grape
that is often misunderstood’, says Eben. His point is that the bad
examples of Pinotage, which predominate, are giving the variety a
bad name and jeopardising its future. ‘We are destroying a unique
grape.’ The danger is that people aren’t forgiving and patient
enough, and won’t allow South African winemakers to really work
out how to manage Pinotage properly.
old world had the privilege of working out which grapes grew best
where at a time when things were less structured. The Italians could
find their rhythm with Sangiovese and the Spanish could find their
rhythm with tempranillo,’ says Eben. ‘We have only had 12 years
to reinvent a grape because of sanctions.’
The farm, early evening
Pinotage 2003 Paardeberg
An utterly fantastic Pinotage: I didn’t think I’d find
myself saying this. It has dark, lush, spicy fruit with lovely
freshness. Clean and expressive. The palate is expressive with fine
yet firm tannins and nice structure. Slightly drying tannins on the
finish, but it’s a fantastic effort. Very good/excellent 93/100
Syrah 2003 Paardeberg
Fantasic nose: dark, smooth and quite seamless with a lovely
freshness together with a liqueur-like smoothness and sweetness. The
palate is concentrated and bold with lovely tight spicy structure.
There’s some nice spiciness and earthiness. Lovely complexity
here: a brilliant example of Syrah combining richness with
expression. Very good/excellent 94/100
the UK, these wines have been available in the past from Oddbins –
you might still find some if you hunt around.
Wines tasted 12/05
these wines with wine-searcher.com