Lismore: tasting the latest releases from Samantha O’Keefe in Greyton, South Africa
Samantha O’Keefe is a pioneering wine grower in Greyton, where she first planted a wine farm in 2004. The home vineyard is clearly an exceptional site. There’s significant growing season rainfall, and a large diurnal temperature shift. It’s a challenging, bony site though, and yields are quite low.
I visited in 2018, and my report is here.
2020 was the disastrous fire vintage, when the winery burned down and many of the vineyards were destroyed. These wines were made from donated fruit. Sam has replanted 6 hectares since the fire, so far, of the 14.5 hectares that were previously planted.
All the wines are natural ferment.
Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Ferment 2020 Western Cape, South Africa
Oxidatively handled at the juice stage. Lively and complex with nice intensity, showing grapefruit, lime and spice, as well as some pear and apple notes. There’s a slight saline twist on the finish. 92/100
Chenin Blanc 2021 Cape South Coast, South Africa
The fruit for this comes from Stanford. Four tons were donated from here in 2020, and Sam liked the fruit so much she bought it in 2021. Soils are decomposed granite. Lovely lime, pear and aniseed notes. Really stony and vivid with lovely crunch and structure. Mineral and multidimensional with a saline twist. A lovely wine that’s quite thrilling. 95/100
The Age of Grace Viognier 2020 Cape South Coast, South Africa
This comes from Gabrielskloof in Bot River and Thelema Sutherland in Elgin. 15% fermented in eggs. Wonderful aromatics with lovely apricot, pear and bright citrus fruit, as well as some stoniness. Lovely concentration here, showing precision, freshness and good varietal character. 94/100
Chardonnay 2020 Cape South Coast, South Africa
From Hemel-en-Aarde, Kaimansgaat and Greyton, all three cool climate areas. Naturally fermented in barrel with 10% new oak. Complex, taut and nutty with some saline notes. Fruity but refined with a savoury twist, and quite stony and mineral. Stylish. 93/100
Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2021 Greyton, South Africa
This is from dryland-farmed shale soils, with low yields of tiny bunches. Concentrated and spicy with a lovely citrus core. Powerful and rich, the intense palate shows lime, toast and spice with some peachy richness. Amazing length and complexity. 95/100
Lismore Estate Reserve Viognier 2021 Greyton, South Africa
It’s hard to emphasize just how good this wine is. Remarkable aromatics of pear, peach and apricot, as well as some peach stone. The essence of Viognier. The palate is concentrated and vibrant with lovely pear and apricot, and a sour peach kernel twist. Such a brilliant wine. 97/100
Pinot Noir 2021 Cape South Coast, South Africa
From Stanford and Kaimansgaat, with an average of 30% whole bunch. Supple, fine and fresh with some stony notes and good intensity. Red cherry fruit with a touch of wild strawberry, and some fresh sour cherry notes on the finish. Pure, elegant and fine. 93/100
Lismore Syrah 2020 Western Cape, South Africa
This comes from donated fruit (Elgin, Swartland, Stellenbosch and Constantia). 12.5% alcohol and 50% whole bunch. Fresh and supple with direct fruit and a hint of mint and pepper. Bright mineral edge to the red cherry fruit with a detailed sappy edge. 93/100
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