Gabriëlskloof is a beautiful wine estate located near Bot River in the Overberg region east of Cape Town. It was purchased in 2001 by Bernhard Heyns, who had been on the lookout for the ideal place to plant vines. After planting, his first vintage was in 2009.
We felt compelled to add Gabriëlskloof to our list because Peter-Allan Finlayson, Bernhard’s son in law, took over as winemaker from the 2015 vintage. The farm has 300 hectares, with 68 hectares planted with vines. The climate is cool with maritime influences coming from Walker Bay. The vineyards are planted with 70% red (Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) and 30% white varieties (Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Viognier). The vineyards are farmed sustainably with the aim to move to organic farming in the future.
The fruit for the Sauvignon Blanc comes from seven different low-yielding (5.5 tonnes per hectare) vineyards planted on tough rocky sandstone and shale soils. The grapes are fermented and aged in stainless steel to retain the primary fruit aromas. It is elegant in style with fresh acidity and aromas ranging from kiwi to nettles. ‘Rosebud’, as the name suggests, is like an unopened rose, pale pink, elegant and floral. It is dry in style with crisp acidity and a round finish. Made from old vine Chenin Blanc grown in the Paardeberg region of the Swartland, the Elodie Chenin Blanc is fermented in old French oak barrels, which adds complexity to the wine. The nose offers subtle citrus and white floral aromas, coupled with layers of almond and dried pineapple. The palate is opulent with great natural acidity and freshness, typical of old vine Chenin.
Magdalena, a barrel-fermented Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc blend, is made with minimal intervention. The nose is intense and well integrated, boasting aromas of lime flower and almonds, perfectly complemented by a sweet and sour zestiness on the palate. Superb value for money, ‘The Blend’ is a wine which offers juicy black fruit, bright acidity and soft, ripe tannins. The fruit for the ‘Syrah on Shale’ comes from a single vineyard, Bokkeveld, on the Gabriëlskloof property. The shale is interspersed with a high clay component allowing for good water retention, which means the resulting wine has a riper fruit profile. It is plush and spicy, with notes of dark red fruits and tapenade, silky tannins and a long, fine finish. The fruit for the Cabernet Franc comes from a 15-year-old single vineyard. It is 90% destemmed and 10% whole cluster, fermented in 500 litre barrels for 18 months, using 30% new French oak. On the nose, it offers notes of tobacco leaf, bell pepper and dark plums. The palate is refined with a beautiful concentration of fruit and a lifted finish.