Superb Stellenbosch Syrah

Superb Stellenbosch Syrah
Keermont Estate is a single estate located in the spectacular Blaauwklippen Valley just southwest of Stellenbosch. They are a relative newcomer to the South African fine wine scene, releasing their first wines under their own label as recently as 2007, but have quickly made a name for themselves as one of the finest Syrah producers around. The estate occupies a very special site of rich vegetation which benefits from slightly higher than average rainfall and on the day we visited, nestled in the stunning natural surroundings with the mountains encroaching, wildlife singing and rain-refreshed wild fynbos flooding the air with the scents of flower and herbs, it felt like an isolated, tropical, undiscovered outpost.

The estate was bought in 2003 by the Wraith family and in 2005 a major process of vineyard planting and winery renovation took place to augment the 8 hectares of original 1970s and 1980s vineyards that were already in place. Over the next seven years the estate steadily grew to 21 hectares under the guidance of Alex Starey, a talented winemaker who prefers to “pick on acidity rather than sugar”. A restrained winemaking approach means that all of the grapes are basket pressed, moved by gravity and by hand – there are no pumps or machinery in the winery. Fermentation is carried out in concrete and stainless steel and maturation of the reds takes place over two years in neutral barrique and 500L barrel, separately for the first year and blended together for the second year, while whites see 1 year in barrel. Unusually for small producers in South Africa, Keermont are privileged to be able to work with 100% estate-owned fruit and control every single aspect of production. They continue to sell off about half of the total volume though so as to keep their focus on quality over quantity. We are delighted today to be able to offer the two top red wines of the estate; the single vineyard Syrahs Topside and Steepside 2015.

Topside Syrah comes from an elevated site of 350-400m and the soils are made up of decomposed granitic sandstone and rocky topsoil to produce a finely pitched, tensile red fruit scented Syrah, while the Steepside is from the iron-rich red clay soils of the Heldeberg mountain, producing a Syrah of fuller body, more sensual fruits, fresh herbs and spices. 2015 is an exceptional vintage across South Africa, the last year before the drought set in, and these are two of the standout wines, produced in very limited quantities.

“Winemaker and surf-addict Alex Starey is certainly talented and has taken the estate to new heights in recent years, gradually expanding the portfolio year by year […] Their 2015 Topside Syrah from granite/sandstone soils is one of the outstanding wines of the vintage. These wines come highly recommended.” – Neal Martin, Vinous South Africa Report, August 2018.