Impressive wines from one of SA's most dynamic wine regions

Monday, 10 June, 2013 - Jamie Goode
I tasted these wines with winemaker Marc van Halderen, who has now left for Australia, as well as owner Peter Clarke. Let's hope that his great work can be continued, because these are really exciting wines, from the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge.
The vineyards, which I’d visited a year earlier, are quite stunning. While the tasting room and winery is located in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley (this was previously the Newton Johnson winery), the vineyards are a bit further inland, on the ridge, just past Kevin Grant’s scenic Ataraxia.

The wines are brought into the UK by The Wine Treasury.

The wines:

La Vierge Pinot Noir 2009
15% stems, 13.8% alcohol. 115 clone, 6000 vines/hectare, no irrigation. From a single vineyard, this was Marc's first vintage. Fresh, pure, leafy bright cherry fruit with a savoury plummy notes. There's a supple, rounded, textured character that's appealing. Real interest. 92/100

La Vierge Pinot Noir 2010
Not as cool as 2009, 30% stems. Fresh, vivid cherry fruit nose leads to a supple palate with good acidity and a bit of savoury bite. Beautifully vivid with nice precision and freshness and lovely textured cherry fruit. 94/100

La Vierge Pinot Noir 2011
Clones 667, 777, 114, 115, taken from another three blocks. 30% stems. Pale colour. Taut, fresh and vivid with aromatic red cherry fruit. So fresh and taut with nice savoury spicy notes. Quite structured with a bit of grip and nice acidity. Still primary with lots of brightness and luminosity. 93/100

La Vierge Pinot Noir 2012 (barrel sample)
Much deeper in colour than the three previous vintages. 50% stems. Beautifully aromatic with lovely sweet, pure black cherry notes with some chocolate and spice. The palate is dense and grippy with pure black cherry fruit. Wonderful purity and great potential here. 93-95/100

La Vierge Seduction Pinot Noir 2012
A cheaper Pinot that retails for 80 Rand in South Africa. Supple, fresh, vivid and juicy with lively black cherry fruit and a bit of grip. Very fresh and fruity. 89/100

La Vierge Jezebelle Chardonnay 2011
This is part early picked tank fermented Chardonnay with barrel fermented fruit from a few different pickings. The idea is to make something a bit edgy. Very fresh and pure with bright, precise citrus fruit and a spot of toastiness. Fresh with real precision. Shows very fresh pear and citrus fruit. 92/100

La Vierge Satyricon 2010
This is inexpensive (90 Rand), and it's a blend of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, 100% stems and 100% natural ferment. Silky, juicy, fresh and quite elegant. Lovely freshness here, but also a warm, rounded, silky texture. So energetic and alive, showing nice grip but also finesse and elegance. Edgy but silky. 95/100

La Vierge Nymphomane 2010
A blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with Malbec. Lovely pure blackcurrant and black cherry fruit . Supple rich and yet fresh with real finesse and a smooth texture, as well as hints of chalk and mint. A fine, fresh, elegant style. 94/100

La Vierge Anthelia 2009
77% Syrah with 23% Mourvedre. Rich and dense with lovely blackberry and black cherry fruit coupled with savoury olive notes. Spice and clove, too. Rich, structured and quite beautiful in the mouth with good grip and some meaty notes. Finishes fresh. 92/100