Wine of the Week 28: Cape Point Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2022

Cape Point Vineyards Wine

An elegant, fruit-forward Bordeaux-style red.

With its dramatic position overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Noordhoek, and south-west-facing mountain slopes swept by salt-laden breezes (a unique terroir in the Cape Town wine region), Cape Point Vineyards is best known for its white varietals. Sauvignon blanc and sémillon are the cornerstones of the winery’s signature Isliedh blend and (together with Sauvignon Gris) the only grape varietals grown on the Noordhoek wine estate.

Cape Point Vineyards Setting

Based on Bordeaux cultivars

While winemaker Riandri Visser’s first love is indeed sauvignon blanc (she’s been doing a second harvest in the Sancerre region of France each year since 2019 to deepen her understanding of the varietal), adding a red blend to the Cape Point Vineyards range wasn’t such a huge departure as it might seem. “We used to do a few reds under the sister company Cape Town Wine Co,” she says. “But now we’re focussing on the Cape Point range and we decided to create a red wine based on Bordeaux cultivars.”

Cape Point Vineyards Harvest

They source their red grapes in the Cape Town region near Durbanville. “We’ve been working with the grower since 2017,” says Riandri. “Our viticulturist started spending time on that side and developed the vineyard to a place where we could get really beautiful quality cabernet sauvignon and merlot.” 2022 was the year it all came together. “We had beautiful small berries in compact bunches. It was quite an interesting harvest because the red grapes came in before we were even finished with picking our sauvignon blanc.”

Everything is picked by hand. “We only select the best-quality, beautiful bunches, if there’s a dry grape, damage or rot we remove the grape, and we make sure there are no leaves. Cabernet sauvignon can impart green flavours in the wine, which we don’t want…it’s important to make sure the grapes are at the optimal ripeness, but also to avoid any unnecessary green material.”

Winemaking artistry

Cape Point Vineyards Winemaking

The style of red blend Riandri wanted to create was elegant and delicate. With this in mind she went for gentle manual punch downs to avoid extracting too much tannin and used spontaneous fermentation. “We didn’t add any yeast. Before fermentation we cold-soaked for four days just to get some colour, and the fermentation started spontaneously around day five.”

“It can be a great risk that you have the wrong yeast, especially with reds. So it’s important that the cellar is properly clean, the grapes have no rot, only using the best-quality bunches… that helps keep a healthy fermentation.”

A portion finished ageing for 12 months in oak barrels, and a portion in stainless steel with oak inserts, not to overpower the wine. “I really like fruit-forward red wines, but you also want a little structure. I always say the wine should be the piece of art and the oak should just be the frame. Whatever we do is just to highlight what we’ve already had in the vineyards, in the grapes, in the terroir, and when it comes to the winemaking we need to use a very gentle hand. In the end the wine is the work of art.”

Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2022

Cape Point Vineyards Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

An elegant wine with dark fruit and smooth velvety tannins, the tasting notes highlight black cherry, mulberry and plum followed by hints of dried herbs and floral spice. Medium-bodied and soft in structure, with a long lingering finish, it’s deliciously versatile. “I wanted to make a style that is easy to drink at lunchtime. So many people love red wine, but if you have a big heavy red wine at lunch time it can make you tired for the rest of the day,” says Riandri. “This wine you could pair with a beautiful piece of meat, but equally with wild fish, calamari or a light meat like chicken. It’s a red wine that works with lighter, out of the ordinary dishes, you don’t need to have a steak.”
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Time of publication: 22 May 2024