15 January 2008

Farewell, Sentinel

What happened to Sentinel? The winery was owned by Cape wine figures Walter Finlayson and Rob Coppoolse. That they made good wine is not in doubt. This 2003 Pinotage is garlanded in awards – in 2004 the Pinotage Top 10, Trophy at Capital Fairburn and a Veritas Silver.

I did not meet a local that liked Sentinel's ‘castle’ perched on a ridge overlooking the R44 just north of Stellenbosch. However my spirits are always lifted by its incongruous vision, stonework lit golden by the sun, towering over vineyards. Around the base were historic muzzle loading cannons rescued from wrecks of wooden warships on the seabed that had foundered along the coast.

Now the property and vineyards have been acquired by neighbouring L’Avenir who will remodel the castle and use it for their tasting room. Which is another shame as I enjoyed tasting wine in L’Avenir’s winery barrel cellar next to a lake, although the tasting room staff no doubt found the cellar depressingly cold and dark.

This 2003 Sentinel Pinotage is intensely dark and opaque. It is mouth filling, dense and ripe with a balance and depth, offering fruit of the forest spiciness with tobacco leaf. It is soft, tangy, and a bit chewy with a whiff of leather on the dry finish. An excellent example of the art of Pinotage.

Farewell, Sentinel. I’ll miss you.

Producer: Sentinel Vineyards
Vintage: 2003
Winemaker: Adele Dunbar
Variety: Pinotage
Appellation: Coastal

The Sentinel Castle
(originally a fruit packing plant and soon to be L'Avenir's tasting room)

1 comment:

  1. Would be great if L'Avenir released a
    L'Avenir Sentinel Hill Pinotage from the same blocks of grapes? Perhaps we should propose it!