Visiting South Africa's Swartland region, Part 2 

Because I’d been driving the previous evening, I felt bright as a button as I headed off to Lammershoek for the first visit of a gloriously sunny Friday morning. I was hosted by Carla Kretzel (daughter of the owners), Craig Hawkins (winemaker and significant other to Carla) and Jurgen Gouws (assistant winemaker). 

Craig and Jurgen

Lammershoek is very important to the Swartland, in that many of the top Swartland wines are made, or partially made, from fruit taken off the farm. As well as growing grapes, Lammershoek is an increasingly impressive winery in its own right. 

The wines here used to be good, but under Craig Hawkins (which effectively means since the 2010 vintage) they have taken a leap forward in terms of freshness, precision and purity. Craig started with Eben Sadie in 2006, then worked in France, Portugal and Spain before moving to Lammershoek in 2010. He also consults in Austria. 

Craig’s winemaking is leaning in a very natural direction, with early picking and minimal intervention in the winery. No cultured yeasts are used. But it’s with his own wines that he’s really gone nuts. They are made under the Testalonga label, and they are as natural as winemaking gets. The wines are made with no added sulphur dioxide, and sometimes none is added at bottling, or in other cases just a little added. It depends on the wine.

Assistant winemaker Jurgen Gouws is also making his own wines, under the Intellego label. These are also natural-leaning, but aren’t as extreme as the Testalonga wines.

Tank samples (rating: a really good wine gets *, an even better wine gets **, and an exceptional wine gets ***)

LAM 2011 white, aged in stainless steel: very fresh, appley, with good acidity.*

2011 Chenin Blanc, from 500 litre barrel: pressed by foot, this is reduced, minerally and spicy. Very fresh and long. **

Hárslevelű 2011: wonderful pear and apple aromatics with a touch of reduction. Brilliant fresh, complex palate. ***

Viognier 2011: this will end up in the Roullette. Very fresh with low alcohol, a mineral style

Chardonnay 2011: this will end up in the Roullette. Rich nutty nose is still fresh. The palate is fresh and mineral with lovely precision. **

LAM Syrah 2011: 45% whole bunch. Sweet, fresh and aromatic with lovely cherry and berry fruit. So pure. **

Syrah 2010: Blonde block on top of the vineyard. 13.5% alcohol. Wonderfully aromatic and meaty with lovely pure sweet aromatics and a nice savoury, mineral edge. Good structure and purity with a hint of green sappiness. *** (92-94/100)

Syrah 2011: Blonde block. 13% alcohol. Fine, aromatic berryish fruit with some green notes. Bright and focused with meat and olive character. Fresh floral style with lovely precision and purity. **   

Finally, we tried a slightly bizarre underwater wine. This will be sold under the Lammershoek Cellar Foot label. It’s a Syrah, made with no added sulphur dioxide, and which has been kept in a barrel underwater since February 20th 2011 (this was tasted in November 2011).

Syrah 2011 Underwater Wine
Very fresh, precise and pure with firm structure and lovely taut cherry and berry fruit. No signs of reduction. Very clean and pure.

Lammershoek Cellar Foot The Hárslevelű 2010 Swartland, South Africa
12% alcohol. Just 800 cases made, and not released yet. Will be around 250 Rand. Grapes are crushed by feet in a basket press. Full yellow colour. Remarkable stuff: apples, herbs, spice, tangy acidity and lemony freshness. Powerful, fresh and slightly oxidative. Long and tangy: a crazy wine. 93/100

Tasted in January 2012:

Lammershoek LAM Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2010 Swartland, South Africa
Nutty, mineral complex nose with pear and apple notes. The palate is textured and broad with lovely pear fruit and lively acidity. Fresh. 90/100

Lammershoek LAM Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2011 Swartland, South Africa
12% alcohol. Complex, savoury, nutty nose with lovely fruit, some spice and some mineral notes. Waxy palate has fresh citrus fruit, apples and nuts. Really fresh stle. 90/100

Lammershoek Roulette Blanc 2009 Swartland, South Africa
Craig Hawkins only blended this wine, but he took out some of the richer components. Rich, bold, nutty, spicy nose. The palate is surprisingly elegant given the rich, bold, spicy fruit. Broad and mouthfilling with some spicy oak. 91/100

Lammershoek Chenin Blanc 2010 Swartland, South Africa
Whole bunch pressed and then goes into old wood for fermentation. After a year it goes to concrete for 6 months, and the original lees are kept. Lovely intense nose with wine savoury characters, peach, spice and pear. The palate is complex and savoury edged with pear and apple fruit as well as minerals and nuts. Brilliant. 93/100

Lammershoek LAM Syrah 2010 Swartland, South Africa
Lots of whole bunches used here, and 10% Carignan. Fresh, pure, elegant cherryish fruit with good acidity. Pretty and pure with a hint of seriousness and some subtle meaty notes. 91/100 

A short film of Lammershoek's vineyards:

Part 1: Dinner at Callie's on the Porseleinberg
Part 2: Lammershoek  
Part 3: Photos of Lammershoek
Part 4: Intellego

Part 5: Testalonga
Part 6: Eben Sadie and a Columella vertical tasting
Part 7: Mullineux Family Wines
Part 8: Tobias/Bryan McRobert

Wines tasted 11/11  and 01/12
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