Wine of the Week 21: Daniel Colombo Muscat d’Alexandrie 2023

Wine of the Week 21: Daniel Colombo Muscat d’Alexandrie 2023

There’s something about you…

“There’s something about you” is what Daniel Colombo calls his Muscat d’Alexandrie 2023, grown from old vines on a West Coast mountain. Other wines have similar tributes: “Like seeing you for the first time again” inscribes his co-ferment of colombar and muscat d’Alexandrie.

“They form part of an on-going love letter to my wife,” shares the young winemaker. “As she is from Germany, we’ve spent quite a lot of time apart. I first dedicated my grenache gris to her, ‘I just called to say I love you’. Then it just felt like the right thing to do, a continuous love letter to the most incredible person in my life.”

A fledgling venture

Daniel Colombo Wine Journey

The young family call Fish Hoek home, and have two small children. Fledgling also is Daniel’s self-titled wine range, although increasingly garnering notice for his textural, skin-contact wines made in a minimalist style.

A Stellenbosch University graduate, he wasn’t quite sure of what he wanted to do with his life. It was while travelling in Europe he discovered the natural wine bar phenomen, and “got deep into it”. Back home he started working at Leo’s (a bagel shop that flips into a natural wine bar at night) in Cape Town. And it was here the calling started to become a bit clearer; he wanted to make wine. He learnt the ropes at Kaapzicht and Gabriëlskloof, followed by a stint overseas, including at Matassa in the Roussillon.

A love for muscat

The lines, he says referring to the vinous love letter, “also have a double meaning. ‘There’s something about you’ is also about my obsession with Muscat, something I’m trying to capture.”

Daniel is one of only a handful of winemakers making a dry style of the heritage grape. Muscat has been planted in South Africa since the 1600s, then, as largely now, traditionally sweet. It was as recently as the 1990s that muscat was still the sixth most-planted grape in the national vineyard. But as tastes (and trends) have turned to drier styles of wines, vineyards planted for sweet wines are in rapid decline. Muscat makes up only two per cent of all national plantings.

“It seems like the universe has been guiding me towards muscat in every way possible. From the chance to work with it abroad, really special vineyards falling into my lap, and the wines turning out even better than I could ever have hoped. Every step of the process has been so positive and compelling. How could I say no to going further?”

Muscat d’Alexandrie 2023

Daniel Colombo Wine Bottle

From a vineyard planted around 1940 on the famous Skurfberg farm. These venerable grapes, which have stood rooted on this vertiginous West Coast mountain for almost a century, are gently brought to bottle by Daniel. Two weeks of whole bunch maceration “followed by a long slow press into old barrels”.

There’s an agelessness about the aromatics; wild white flowers, alpine fynbos, honey mixed with rainwater. The fruit is monastic, as if carved from stone, crumbling with moss – an earthy undertone to buoy white peach, tangs of lime-leaf, riven with a cool, mineral salinity unwinding into white, dusty chalk. This muscat does what great wines do – they transport you. None of the expected is here, such as that tell-tale grapey scent that usually gives this grape away. This is something new, but something ancient, too.

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The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 10 January 2024