Alheit Vineyards 2018 La Colline Semillon
This is a single vineyard bottling from the old Semillon vineyard that Chris & Suzaan Alheit have been working with from the outset. Lying between 320m and 360m above sea level on a southern slope in the Franschhoek valley, the wine from this block is always good, but in a good vintage it’s sublime. It was planted by the grandfather of the current farmer on La Colline farm in the year 1936. This is one of those old vineyards that, in winter, looks like a bunch of drunken people cart-wheeling across the slope. It’s truly beautiful.
It also has a curious dark side: Dark skinned grapes, or Semillon Gris. This oddity still grows in some of the Cape’s older vineyards, though it’s virtually extinct everywhere else on the planet. This affords Chris and Suzaan a chance to make something unique to the Cape. About 10% of this vineyard is Semillon Gris (simply inter-planted with the white Semillon). Every year they separate out the Gris, and ferment it on skins for a few days before pressing. The results are strange, mostly in a good way. The wine is usually composed of 75% skin fermented Semillon Gris and 25% Semillon Blanc.
"Smells a touch reductively smoky (in a good way). Light spice, citrus and a touch of hay. Almost earthy/herbal but not quite. Oatmeal leesy depth to the texture, fine grained and structured. Rounded in the mouth, complex and quiet on the long finish"
Julia Harding MW, Jancisrobinson.com 17.5 Points
As one of South Africa’s newest producers, Alheit Vineyard declares its aim as being ‘to vinify extraordinary Cape vineyards’. The fact that Chris and Suzaan Alheit set out on their venture to make only white wine, is a testament to their commitment to seek out some of the oldest vineyard blocks in the country. Using the knowledge and contacts of leading viticulturist, Rosa Kruger, within two short years, Alheit Vineyards has established itself as the most talked about winery in the Cape, with its limited releases being highly sought-after.
Winery space is rented in a shed, originally conceived as an olive oil production facility, on the Hemel-en-Aarde road out of Hermanus. Probably as far away as one could expect to be from their primary grape sources on the West Coast.