With the 2015 vintage taking the South African wine industry by storm, the new release of Kanonkop’s Black Label Pinotage is being met with unbridled anticipation. “Since the Black Label’s maiden vintage in 2006, this is the most hype we have ever experienced around our flagship wine,” says Johann Krige, co-owner of Kanonkop Estate in Stellenbosch. “The perfect storm of the wine’s reputation in the fine wine markets and the talked-about 2015 vintage has created an extraordinary local and international demand ahead of this year’s release.”
According to Abrie Beeslaar, the Kanonkop cellar master, 2015 is set to go down as one of the greatest years for South African wine.
“Good drenching rain in the winter of 2014 was followed by a warm August leading to an especially healthy, even growing period for the vines,” he says. “The vineyards experienced dry, warm winds in November which kept the soils dry. And in the middle of November, a welcoming 65mm of rain freshened up the growth-cycle. Then, just to ensure a diversity of climatic conditions, an unexpected hail-storm took five percent of the crop.”
“The rest of summer saw cool and dry conditions, leading to the Black Label’s bush-vine Pinotage vineyard harvested two weeks earlier than normal, but as soon as the grapes started coming in and we saw the quality I knew this was going to be a great year on Kanonkop – most certainly the best I have ever seen.”
2006 saw the maiden production of the wine with 1 100 bottles being made which has now grown to a 4,600 bottle production. The wine is made from a single Pinotage vineyard, planted in 1953.
“We initially under-estimated the demand for a high-priced, single-vineyard Pinotage,” says Krige. “Seven years ago I really doubted whether we would be able to sell 1 100 bottles of a wine we put onto the market as a labour of love, something special to encapsulate the unique terroir of the farm and our Pinotage ethos.”
“Demand has however been tremendous – not only due to the image of Kanonkop and its Black Label, but also as a result of the astounding critical reception the wine has received. When you have a sought-after product which is also garnering great scores from wine critics such as Tim Atkin (97/100) and Steven Tanzer (94/100) it truly begins to look like a match made in heaven.”
Krige comments that the surprising demand coming out of Europe, the Far East and America has overshot his initial projections for the wine.
“Being Pinotage, I initially expected the demand to come from South Africa’s fine wine lovers and collectors. But it would appear that international buyers are keenly looking for exclusive, higher-priced South African wines and over the past few years we have just not been able to meet this demand.”
Beeslaar notes that the age of the vines as well as the meager yields has lead to immense vintag variety in the Black Label. “The vintage variety definitely adds to this wine’s appeal, and 2015 is a stand-out,” he says.
Sturdy and robust, the wine has immense elegance and refinement.“The just-released 2015 vintage is muscular, yet already charming with graceful fruity notes. It is characterised by flavours of black fruit, prune and forest floor, with a bit of spice and a delectable savouriness. As the previous vintages have shown, this wine really starts hitting its straps after five years in the bottle as it gains complexity and added depth.”
Made in a simplistic and minimal intervention method, Beeslaar says “The fermenting juice was removed from the skins after four days, with malolactic fermentation commencing in stainless steel tanks before being completed in new French oak barrels. Maturation in new wood was done over 18 months, adding to structure and refinement.” Not only is it elegant to drink in its youth, but it will age perfectly for the next 20 years.
Each wine is individually numbered and labelled with a hologram to ensure authenticity and priced at R1 590, incl vat. Only 4,600 bottles have been made, and are only available through selected resellers, so make sure to get yours here!