Tim Atkin South African Special Report 2015
2 October 2015
UK winemaster Tim Atkin, visits the Cape Winelands on an annual basis and is one of the few international wine writers and judges that provides an in depth view of our industry. In his opinion, “South Africa should be universally regarded as one of the great wine producing countries of the world”, which is high praise coming from someone that sips the top Bordeaux blends and perfectly chilled Burgundies on a regular basis.
We thought we would share some of the ratings and reviews we received in his 2015 report below. His full report is available for purchase from http://www.timatkin.com/reports.
Thelema Reserve Merlot 2012
There was no Merlot Reserve in 2011, so it’s good to welcome back one of the Cape’s best expressions of the grape. A vineyard and barrel selection with 75% new oak, it’s plushand complex, with granular tannins, mint and cut grass aromas and a sheen of oak. Long, complex and very satisfying on the palate.
Thelema The Mint 2012
Famously made from a vineyard surrounded by gum trees, which was replanted after the 2014 harvest, this wine does what it says on the label. Pure cassis and eucalyptus fruit, witha hint of menthol, good oak integration and refreshing acidity are supplemented by dense, filigree tannins.
Thelema Rabelais 2011
A blend of Cabernet with 10% Petit Verdot, this is a wine that’s built to last. Serious, sturdy and compact with lots of power in reserve, it’s possibly a little dry at the moment, although its frame is draped in rich cassis and blackberry fruit. Needs time.
Thelema Chardonnay 2013
Thelema Chardonnay rarely disappoints and this blend from several vineyards, including the highest on the farm at 550 metres, is beautifully crafted. Aromatic, subtle oak, notes of melon and citrus zest and a refreshing, crunchy finish make this a very appealing style.
Thelema Sutherland Chardonnay 2012
The Sutherland release is every bit as good as Thelema’s Stellenbosch Chardonnay, albeit in a more “European” style. Orange zest, sweet oak and crunchy, citrus-tinged flavours with one third new oak and partial malolactic fermentation for added weight.
Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Sourced from the estate’s best blocks at around 400 metres, this contains 8% Petit Verdot for added colour and muscle. It’s a bold, strapping wine that still has a lot of ageing potential, with plenty of dense black-fruited flavours and structure.
Thelema Ed’s Reserve Chardonnay 2013
This comes from one parcel planted with the aromatic Muscaté clone in 1984 (“it was all I could get”, explains Gyles Webb). Peachy, apricotty and ripe, it’s a creamy, quite oaky style with bags of personality. It’s a very punter-friendly style. A shame there are only 300 cases.
Thelema Sutherland Riesling 2014
Slightly sweeter than Thelema’s Stellenbosch bottling (with 8 grams of sugar), this is generally released earlier, too. Crisp, refreshing and light-bodied, it’s sustained and driven by acidity and freshness, with a tangy, mouthwatering finish that lingers on the palate.
Thelema Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Crunchier and more acidic than Thelema’s Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc, this comes from a vineyard that was planted in 2003. Smoky and tangy with gooseberry bite, some fresh herbs and a focused, minerally finish.
Thelema Sutherland Viognier/Roussanne 2012
There’s always more Viognier than Roussanne in this blend, but the exact proportions change from year to year (it’s 89% here). Smooth and subtly oaked, with apricots and baking spices on the palate, complemented by the herbal notes of the Roussanne and a backdrop of oak.
Thelema Merlot 2011
Thelema’s Merlot sometimes includes a little Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot, but here it’s a pure varietal. Smooth and swetly oaked, it’s just what a Merlot should be, with notes of mint and green pepper and fine tannins.
Thelema Shiraz 2012
Thelema isn’t as well known for Shiraz as it is for the red Bordeaux varieties, but it should be. This is savoury, soft and approachable, with raspberry fruit, clove and pepper spice and notes of mint and lavender.
Thelema Riesling 2012
The Webbs’ dry Rieslings (this one has 5 grams of sugar) age extremely well in bottle, and the 2012 is already showing a little bit of toast as well as lime on the palate. Punchy, pithy and dry, it’s more of an Alsace than a Germanic style, with a touch of bitter phenolics.
Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Gyles and Thomas Webb are very good at making large quantities of value for money Sauvignon Blanc – what they describe as “our bread and butter”. This is a medium-weight style with classic grapefruit zing and some tropical fruit undertones. Just the thing for the deckchair.