What I Drank Last Night
Good Booze. Good Food. Good Company.

Sijnn 2010

Sijnn near the settlement of Malgas on the banks of the Breede River some three hours’ drive from Cape Town is about a remote a wine farm as I have ever visited (see images here). It sees David Trafford of De Trafford in Stellenbosch and partners attempting to push the envelope – they have chosen to operate in an area with soils too infertile, water too scarce to have previously been considered suitable for vineyard.

Their aim, however, is not high volumes but high quality. “The typical New World approach is to cultivate classic grape varieties in a warm climate resulting in richer, fuller wines. We’ve done the opposite by planting varieties adapted to warmer climate in a more moderate area and hopefully we can achieve lower alcohol, more elegant wines.”

Not unlike Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Not unlike Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

To date, 16ha of bush vines have been established and the idea is to keep yields low (between 3 to 4t/ha) in order to arrive at the best quality fruit. The farm’s soil is remarkable in appearance – a dense scattering of large sandstone pebbles atop a layer of shale. Water, meanwhile, has to be pumped some 65m up from the river below.

Trafford is working on blends unique to the property and over dinner in the just-about completed cellar the 2010 vintage of the Sijnn Red, recently given a score of 93 by US magazine Wine Spectator.   A blend of 41% Syrah, 27% Touriga Nacional, 18% Mourvèdre, 10%  Trincadeira and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine was matured in a mix of barrels for 12 months and then mostly 700-litre barrels for a further nine months.

On the nose, heady lily-like perfume plus red and black fruit. The palate meanwhile is plush with ultra-ripe fruit offset by tangy acidity, a slightly briny quality on the finish lending interest. It’s a dramatic wine and I’m not surprised it wowed Spectator but the 2009 (reviewed here) also on the table had greater charm…

Score: 90/100.

CE’s Top 20 SA Wineries 2014

Top of the pops.

Wine writer Tim James recently conducted a poll to establish a top 20 list of wine producers in South Africa as he has done on an occasional basis since 2001. 29 local and international wine professionals were consulted and the results are available … [Continue reading]

Keet First Verse 2010

Ode on pleasure.

Somewhere between the 2009 and 2010 vintage, Keets Wines became Keet Wines, to reflect properly the surname of winemaker Christopher Keet and reference to English Romantic poet John Keats therefore becoming more incidental. In keeping with things … [Continue reading]

Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2013


Thorne and Daughters was started by John Seccombe and wife Tasha at the end of 2012. After growing up in Johannesburg, Seccombe originally started out studying maths and computer science at the University of Stellenbosch but later switched to … [Continue reading]

Trizanne Signature Wines Syrah Grenache 2013

Excellent everyday drinking.

Trizanne Barnard’s involvement as winemaker at the ambitious Stellenbosch project Anwilka between 2005 and 2008 suggested that here was a winemaker to watch. She subsequently went on her own, mainly producing bulk wine for export but also founding … [Continue reading]

Stellenrust “48” Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2012


Yesterday the Chenin Blanc Winter Showcase hosted by the Chenin Blanc Association – wines made in a “richer, fuller, riper style” which will make good drinking in the cold months ahead available for tasting. Even so, I would contend there’s been a … [Continue reading]