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Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 £30.83
LEEU PASSANT STELLENBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON
These wines are made at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, which was founded by Analjit Singh. The partnership with Chris and Andrea Mullineux started in 2013 when Analjit, who had visited South Africa for the first time in 2010 for the FIFA World Cup, bought into Mullineux. Chris and Andrea were brought in as winemakers at Leeu Estates, enabling them to work with fruit from Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and other regions beyond Swartland. “Rosa Kruger, our viticulturalist, had for years been enthusing to us about various parcels of fruit, but as they were outside the Swartland, we couldn’t use them in Mullineux,” explains Chris. Rosa Kruger, named ‘the queen of the Cape’s old vines’ by Tim Atkin MW, has been almost single-handedly responsible for finding and saving many of the Cape’s most venerable vineyards and also works with Fairview in Paarl and Gabriëlskloof in Walker Bay.
This wine is a blend of parcels from the cooler parts of Stellenbosch. One parcel is from 39-year-old, dry-farmed bush vine Cabernet Sauvignon, planted on deep alluvial soils of Firgrove. A further two parcels are planted on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, while the final parcel is sourced from the Polkadraai Hills, where the soils are decomposed granite.
Drought in 2018 reduced yields in South Africa by up to 50% of normal volumes. Cooler climate Stellenbosch fared slightly better during the dry weather. In general, the lower yields resulted in significantly smaller grape bunches and berries, leading to wines with higher than normal extract and concentration levels. The canopies were also more open allowing more sunlight onto the grapes resulting in thicker skins, more tannins and darker fruit aromatics.
The grapes were hand harvested and then cooled on arrival at the winery to minimise oxidisation of delicate aromas. The grapes were then destemmed. Minimal sulphur was added, and no further additions were made. The must was initially punched down once a day. After about four days, fermentation began without inoculation and the cap was punched down or pumped over twice a day. Temperatures were not allowed to exceed 28°C. Fermentation lasted between seven and 10 days. After fermentation, the wine spent about two weeks on its skins to maximise extraction before being drained and pressed to barrel. The wine spent 20 months in 500 litre French oak barrels, of which 30% were new.
This aromatic Cabernet shows notes of cassis, tarragon, graphite and cedar on the nose. These continue on the palate which has a silky texture and great structure from the fine tannins. The richness and power of the wine are balanced by freshness and finesse. The finish is dry with lingering blackcurrant and blueberry flavours.
96 Points Platters Guide
From cooler Stellenbosch sites, Firgrove & Polkadraai, 2018 wonderfully pure-fruited & restrained, almost delicate, yet has commanding presence & length. Cassis & blackberry fruit seamlessly meshed with graceful yet powerful tannins, variety’s brilliant acidity when nurtured in cool vineyards. Truly special. Also 1.5L, as all these.
Wine tasted by Cathy van Zyl.