Wine of the Week: McFarlane Wines Capitoline Wolf White 2023

Mcfarlane Capitoline Wolf White

A fresh, bright and textural blend of chenin blanc and sémillon.

“Chenin blanc and sémillon are just incredible together,” says Alexandra McFarlane of the unusual white blend, the Capitoline Wolf 2023 she’s produced in her Hemel-en-Aarde winery. “It happened by chance too –  we didn’t have a home for the components in the first vintage.

 “It’s also a sneaky way to get people to drink more sémillon, and find it more approachable. I think it can be intimidating as a stand-alone variety.”

Born of necessity

Mcfarlane Capitoline Wolf White Cellar

McFarlane Wines is Alexandra’s own-label brand; the Capitoline range is the second tier, born out of creativity and necessity.

McFarlane had just released her debut premium chenin, ‘Monday’s Child’ when … “lockdown meant we could not sell our wine for many months. We were forced to make some hard decisions about the wines we had made.” Selling off the wine as bulk was an option, but knowing the quality of the grapes she was working with, McFarlane rather channelled the extra juice into an experimental range.

Called Capitoline Wolf (there is also a rosé and a red, too), it is a tribute to the mythic tale of the wolf who saved the brothers, Romulus and Remus when they were cast into the River Tiber. “These wines played a significant role in keeping our neophyte wine business afloat during difficult times.

A gentle approach

Mcfarlane Capitoline Wolf White Vineyard

For the Capitoline Wolf White 2023, “The Bot River vineyard for the sémillon gives us fleshy yellow fruit and the Franschhoek parcel, beautiful waxy tones. Neither of those sites are green in character, which is what I love about them. The chenin comes from Durbanville, and it has such gorgeous, pure fruit.

“I always want the vineyard and fruit character to shine through, so my approach to winemaking is gentle. I make sure I honour the fruit.

“I want my wines to be fresh, bright and textural, so I like to pick earlier and I also use a lot of lees stirring in the winemaking.” 

Capitoline Wolf 2023

Mcfarlane Capitoline Wolf White Bottle

Clean, enticing aromatics of lemon balm, seashell and flint. The blend is led by sémillon (70%), and the undulating core of yellow peaches, stone fruit and waxy textural grip is beautifully supported by chenin’s broad backbone of sherbet-y acidity. There’s a fantastic depth of fruit here, keenly balanced to feel effortless with length, complexity, and a refreshing pink grapefruit finish.
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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: 05 June 2024