Stanford, Walker Bay, South Africa
Dr. Johst Weber first set foot on the virgin soils of Springfontein, in English, “Strong Spring,” in 1994, right after the fall of Apartheid. He had a dream of creating a project that involved family, friends and a product that, in his words, “…is a combination of nature and human craftsmanship.”
The Estate is breathtakingly beautiful, and the ocean, with its cool wind that blows across the vineyards, is close by. As a Bordeaux lover and collector, Johst saw huge potential in the pure limestone soils, and the high temperature differential between day and night.
Today, Johst and his American wife Jen, who is in charge of sales and management of the farm, follow a simple philosophy: Take what nature gives us, and help it become the best possible reflection of terroir. This is not a novel idea, but they are very happy with the results to date, and strive to learn more about their terroir with each new vintage.
Springfontein produces only estate wines, so every influence on the end product happens on the estate. The first grapes were harvested in 1999, and for lack of a cellar, were sold to the well known Hamilton Russell Estate but the first estate bottled vintage was released in 2002, producing wines that have received both local and international recognition. Yearly production is now around 120,000 bottles and is hand crafted by winemaker Tariro Masayiti.
Springfontein’s “Single Vineyard” wines are a new vision for the best South African varietals of Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. The Pinotage from Springfontein tends to reflect more of the characteristics of its most famous parent, Pinot Noir, and the Chenin Blanc is a mouth-watering reflection of its limestone terroir. The “Terroir Selection” wines are single varietals, aimed at showing the grape variety in its purest, most terroir driven form and the Sopiensklip label, named after a local natural rock formation, (Sip Rock), provides easily approachable wines for everyday drinking.
Johst and Jennifer’s plans for the farm include completing the conversion of the vineyards to organic/biodynamic methods, in order to get even closer to the un-adulterated expression of Springfontein’s terroir. They will also be opening a lodge and restaurant in October 2013 with friends and fellow Springfontein Shareholders, Jürgen and Susanne Schneider. Jürgen and Susanne have directed and cooked in restaurants and hotels around the world, earning Michelin Stars for the past 15 years. Accompanying the hospitality operation, they will have a training facility, modeled after the German “Duales System” of Apprenticeship.
These pioneers are working hard towards a bright future in South Africa, and would love to meet you close to the lovely Stanford Village, on the farm for a wine tasting, or a delicious meal, or maybe for a night or two in the guest rooms hidden peacefully in a Milkwood grove, with spectacular views across the river to the Klein River Mountains. For more information, please visit http://www.springfontein.co.za
See our range of Springfontein wines here – they are hugely popular with our customers and come highly recommended.
Springfontein on E-RobertParker.com
From limestone-rich vineyards only a few miles in from the Atlantic (and a facility only recently completed), Springfontein’s 2006 Pinotage Unfiltered Terroir Selection boasts a clarity of fruit and lift that was lacking in other pure Pinotage bottlings I tasted for this report. Bitter black currant, black olive, and beet root inform this particularly dark yet not at all heavy red, whose silken texture and long, bitter-sweet finish introduces suggestions of wet stone and toasted nuts.
Springfontein’s 2005 Ulumbaza is 100% Shiraz, and like all of their reds I tasted, raised in barriques. Scents of blackberry and cassis mingle with fennel and green peppercorn on the nose. In the mouth, pure, tart black currant is spiced with pepper and cinnamon, and there is a satisfying juicy freshness, but vegetal notes harmonize less successfully than they do in the estate’s Cabernet-based flagship (see below). The sappy, clean finish may gain further complexity if one follows this wine for another couple of years, although the tannins are quite refined and savory.
The 2005 Springfontein flagship bottling has no further name. It represents a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot, 15% Shiraz, 9% Mourvedre, and 9% Petit Verdot, as well as one of the most fascinating and alluring South African wines I have tasted. Black currant, smoky Latakia tobacco, cedar, mint, dark chocolate, roasted red peppers, and black pepper rise from the glass. In the mouth, this is dense and fine-grained, with distinct character of chocolate-covered almonds and a bright, saline, chalky side that keeps it enticing and refreshing. A long finish reprises the complexity adumbrated in the aromas, ripe but without any superficial sense of sweetness. I can taste no reason to defer the pleasure of this wine’s company, but it would nevertheless be interesting to follow it for a few more years in bottle.
Robert Parker, E: RobertParker.com
Find out more about Springfontein at www.springfontein.co.za