Franschhoek Vineyard presents the cream of the crop
The launch was held not at the estate in Franschhoek, but at Cape Town restaurant Aubergine, where the wines were matched with some innovative meat dishes conjured up by veteran chef-owner, Harald Bresselschmidt.
Ansgar Flaatten, the general manager of the estate said: “Although one of our strengths has always been producing superb red and white blends, we decided we also wanted to highlight the real gems within those blends and shine the spotlight on the stand-out barrels of particular cultivars in each vintage.”
Winemaker Van Zyl Du Toit said: “We noticed some of these special barrels and vineyard blocks were being lost in the bigger blends. They have such unique character and elegance, we decided they deserved to be shown on their own. The Black Series is not about volume, it’s about showcasing the best of our cellar.”
Selecting the best barrels from standout vintages is par for the course.
Add to this that the majority of the wines in this series are destined for magnum (1.5 litre) bottles.
“It’s an undisputed fact that a magnum is the best possible ageing vessel for a bottled wine,” according to Du Toit, who said the secret lay in the larger volume of wine relative to the ullage - the air between cork and wine.
The Black Series began in 2012 with a cabernet franc, which is the prime component of the cellar’s acclaimed L’Amour Toujours Bordeaux-style blend.
In each vintage Du Toit works with more than 20 barrels of superb cab franc from Banghoek vineyards and “when we started tasting for the final blend of 2012, we discovered one or two barrels had a unique character that was just too good to lose in the blend. We never want to detract from the main blend but we wanted to allow those barrels to express themselves”.
Cabernet franc is great as a single cultivar wine and this one is highly expressive of the cool mountain terroir, brimming with ripe cherry and cassis.
Also in the series is a bold new cabernet sauvignon - fresh and herbaceous with notes of buchu and fynbos.
To allow wine-lovers the joy of discovering how the vintages have developed, the estate has released the 2013 and 2014 Black Series cabernet sauvignon at the same time.
Du Toit has crafted a really outstanding chardonnay for the series, sourced from vineyards high in the Banghoek valley. It’s fermented in new oak for six months, before racking into older barrels for a further 18 months of maturation. The wine shows a lovely freshness, but on further discovery, rounds out on salted caramel and marzipan notes.
Finally, to copmplete the series, the estate has released a truly stunning Single Vineyard syrah 2014. Du Toit was inspired by the famed syrah of the northern Rhône, using specific yeasts, selected barrel coopers and refined fermentation techniques to extract maximum colour and flavour. The result is a complex, highly expressive and spicy shiraz backed by wonderful oaking, where balance is the key word.