2014 Alheit Vineyards, Cartology Bush Vines White, Hemel & Aarde Ridge, Walker Bay, Western Cape, South Africa.
Chris & Suzaan Alheit’s gorgeous Cartology white is crafted from 87% Chenin Blanc and 13% Semillon coming from old bush vines, it is an amazing wine of character and of textural class. The Alheit Cartology, a Western Cape Herritage blend, has achieved an almost cult wine status since it’s first vintage in 2011, and joins a growing list of new South African offerings that are changing the way we perceive the country’s wine industry and like Sadie Family’s offerings, it is a wine that takes on the best in the world, and in want for a better term, this stuff is Grand Cru quality. Alheit notes that the Cartology parcels are dry farmed bush vines, with a minimum age of 30 years, although most are around 40 years old (or more) and comes from Chenin parcels in the Skurfberg, Piekenierskloof, Perdeberg, Bottelary, False Bay and Tygerberg, while the Semillon comes from the old La Colline block in Franschhoek. This 2014, which seems to have gained with bottle age and should last decades, is wonderfully structured and has a waxy/oily mouthfeel, while still having intensity and vitality of form. This 2014 is a wine that deserves your time and attention, it will seduce you completely if given time and a meal that compliments it, I would suggest baked or grilled fish and or roast poultry dishes.
Chris and Suzaan, who met in college studying wine at Stellenbosch, are hardworking, humble and passionate about wine and are trying to make wines that celebrate the Cape’s heritage and showcase it’s unique terroir and grapes from it’s historic sites. In the cellar, the Alheit’s are minimalists and work with natural wine making principles, though more pragmatic with the use of a little sulphur, they use 100% indigenous yeasts and long fermentation(s) without using much in the way of new oak, as they put it they don’t want their wines to smell like or taste like a French tree. The grapes that come into Alheit’s winery for the Cartology white are cooled, hand sorted, and whole bunch pressed, then resulting juice is allowed settle, and it is racked off into a combination of neutral vessels that include old barrels, clay pots (Amphora) and concrete eggs to ferment naturally and as Alheit puts it, then it is left alone. The 2014 shines with citrus, mainly lemony elements and mineral tones adding a full range of flavors on the medium bodied palate including quinces, white peach, bruised apple, honeycomb and wild herbs as well as crushed stones, lime blossom and star anise. The pale golden/straw hued Cartology is a sensational white wine that really delivers a great performance in the glass and is uniquely South African, and while hard to put into old world context it has the feel of a white Burgundy, but with a profile that has the soulful Chenin, dusty dry personality, like a top Saumur or a Domaine Huet Sec.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive