15 May 2007

Top of the Hill

DeWaals Top of the Hill Pinotage vineyardUiterwyk Estate claim the world's oldest Pinotage vines are planted in their 'Top of the Hill' vineyard (pictured right), which is dramatically placed - as the name suggests - at the brow of a low hill crowned with a large solitary tree whose spreading branches provide welcome shade for farm workers during their lunch breaks.

Because people like me can't pronounce Uiterwyk without making Afrikaaners wince, the Estate has been labelling their wines under the family name of DeWaal, and it is the three brothers DeWaal who make and market the wines.

I popped into the tasting room with my good friend Keith Prothero where we were poured their three Pinotages.

2004 DeWaal Pinotage.
This comes from 25-35 year old vines on the estate plus some bought in fruits, and a third gets oak aging. This is their entry level pinno and sells for a reasonable 45 rand. On the palate it shows very soft fruit, it is very approachable with well integrated tannins and a fruit acid lift on the finish.

2004 DeWaal C T DeWaal Pinotage.
This is dedicated to ancestor C T deWaal who was the first person to make a Pinotage wine. This has a dusky nose with some coffee tones and a bit of farmyard. It is dryer than the first wine, with tighter fruit, quite closed and feels it need some more time.

2002 DeWaal Top of the Hill Pinotage.
DeWaals flagship, a multi-award winning label that is made only in exceptional years. The Top of the Hill vineyard was planted in the 1940's by Daniël de Waal Sr and these ancient bush vines produce small berries with thick skins and concentrated flavours. I found this wine a more older style Pinotage, with firm firm dry tannins, less approachable fruit, and crisp acidity (the wine was aged 21 months in all new 225l French oak barrels. If this reads like a less than enthusiastic review I'd like to add that the bottle was opened especially for us (many thanks - few can resist Keith's winning ways) immediately before tasting and I reckon it needs decanting and aeration to open up show its best. It's a serious wine, from a label I have greatly enjoyed in the past, and I'd like to pair this with a decent steak.

Picture of Top of The Hill vineyard by Keith Philips and used by permission of Uiterwyck Wine Estate

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