Love That Label: 7 Exceptional Wines With Creative Labels
When winemakers break away from notable estates to pursue a side project, the result is a testament to creativity, from the exceptional wines to the labels.
The Western Cape is a melting pot of exceptional wines and exceptional talent. With its new wave of progressive winemakers experimenting with different fermentation and natural winemaking techniques, the boundaries of traditional winemaking are being pushed, resulting in dynamic wines with big personality and flavour. Given the creativity to break free from the boundaries of notable estates, winemakers are showcasing exceptional vintages – with labels as creative as the juice inside.
7 Exceptional Wines With Creative Labels
1. Blackwater High Roller Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Side project turned full-time focus, Blackwater Wines is the brainchild of former Waterford Estate winemaker, Francois Haasbroek. Sourcing grapes from quality vineyards across the Western Cape and using natural winemaking methods in the cellar, Haasbroek produces fruit-forward, unusual wines that distinctly represent the nuances of the region. Using grapes sourced from two dryland trellised sites – one in Durbanville and the other in Breedekloof – the High Roller is a richer, deliciously chunky Sauvignon blanc; imagine a Sancerre on steroids.
2. Thistle & Weed Duwweltjie Chenin Blanc 2018
The passion project of viticulturist Etienne Terblanche and Fairview winemaker Stephanie Wiid, Thistle and Weed is an opportunity for the pair to express creativity, get their hands dirty and craft small batch wines from heritage vineyards in the Cape.
The Duwweltjie Chenin Blanc is sourced from old bush vines planted in 1956 on the north western tip of the Muldersvlei bowl. Wild keeps winemaking simple and true, with the whole bunch pressed and naturally fermented in French oak barrels. Matured on the lees for 10 months prior to bottling (unfiltered), the wine is creamy, textured and freshly balanced with citrus and tropical fruit flavours. It pairs well with family, friends and any occasion around the dining room table.
3. Silwervis Chenin Blanc 2016
From enthusiastic Swartland winemaker Ryan Mostert comes the single-vineyard Silwervis Chenin Blanc that, despite Mostert's aptitude for experimentation in the cellar, is elegant and focussed. Matured in a concrete egg and one old oak barrel using fruit from bush vines planted in 1964, the Chenin is an idiosyncratic flavour profile befitting of Mostert’s dedication to representing place and terroir.
‘The label is a union of past and present. The past represented by the devil, where people farmed aggressively and without care; the present represented by the mermaid, which highlights the delicate nature of our approach to natural winemaking,’ he says.
4. Cape Rock Amnesty Red 2017
Cape Rock Wines is situated between the towns of Vredendal and Klawer, 300km north of Cape Town. The vineyards are located on a single 11 hectare farm just above the banks of the Olifants River. Winemaker Gavin Brand aims to make his wines in the simplest way with minimal intervention, avoiding modern equipment, chemical additives or new oak maturation.
The Amnesty Red is a smooth blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan and Viognier, and aims to be an honest reflection of the terroir. Using mostly free-run juice with pressing ceased before harsh tannins are released, Amnesty has a red fruit-forward, silky mouthfeel that can be enjoyed right now or stored away for years to come (if you can muster the will power).
5. The Fledge & Company Syrah 2016
The Fledge & Company from co-owners Margaux Nel and Leon Coetzee is a result of two people committed to unconventional, entirely delicious wines that are authentic expressions of the land. Seventh-generation winemaker at Boplaas Family Vineyards, Nel produces high-end, handcrafted wines using varying techniques to explore her creativity.
Crafted from vines wedged in shale-rich soils, the Fledge & Company Syrah is a multi-layered, honest wine that expresses notes of red berries, pomegranate and tea leaves. Traditionally vinified in lagar (an open-top cement fermenter) at cool temperatures and later matured for nine months in 500 litre French oak puncheons, this wine is rich, unrefined and unfiltered. Best enjoyed decanted.
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6. Dorper Pinotage 2017
The Dorper Pinotage is a collaborative project between winemaker Reg Holder and viticulturist Etienne Terblanche, and a result of their endeavour to unlock the potential of Pinotage from its hometown, Stellenbosch. A refreshing take on this favourite South African grape, the 2017 vintage is layered in red currant and cherry with a spicy yet undeniably smooth finish.
7. De Kleine Wijn Heimwee Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
JD Pretorius, the cellar master at Steenberg, explores a new side of his winemaking persona with De Kleine Wijn. From a biodynamically-farmed vineyard on the Polkadraai, the Heimwee Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is finely crafted to perfection – fine tannins, fresh finish and made in very small quantities. The brilliant label design is by Fanakalo, the team responsible for the branding and rebranding of many of South Africa’s new and exciting wines.