BlankBottle Searching for L’Estrange 2019

I’ve been struggling to post after deciding to explore Old Vines in South Africa. Sifting through old Semillon and Chenin…yet all I wanted to talk about was this wine.

The most poignant wine moment of 2019, aside from getting to meet an insta friend from Poland, was visiting the BlankBottle cellars (unusual in and of itself) and listen to the winemaker talk about his wines before viewing a documentary about his life. Far closer to midnight than we’d planned, with most people already headed home, I found myself being handed a glass of vino freshly thieved from the clay vessels.

Nearly a year later…I opened this wine in the dark…somewhere between a meh chardonnay and an incredible Syrah. It was only halfway through the glass that it dawned on me that THIS was the exact wine that I’d tasted from the pots!

The Wine:

Pale golden...but in the bottle it has a distinctly rosy the palest colour in a sunset palette. A pronounced nose of honeysuckle, honey, beeswax, resin, hay, yellow peaches, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Dry, light bodied and medium acidity. Stone fruit, honey, lemon zest, with a medium finish of watered down unripe orange, light spices and pine resin. This is both pretty and austere. Floral but linear. It was a delicious, and unexpected Palomino! Say what now? Whole-bunch, clay pot, bees-waxy Palomino!

Viti & Vini:

54 year old bushvines planted in Piekernierskloof at 550 metres above sea level.

1600 litre clay vessels lined with beeswax to seal the porous material.

Whole bunches - skins, stems, seeds, juice...everything was thrown into these pots.


Balance (1) + Length (½) + Intensity (1) + Complexity (½)  = A good wine. 

If there were more acidity I'd rate this wine a lot higher. But, as beautiful a wine this is to me for it's memory and intoxicating aroma....I'd say drink now; but not really suitable for much further ageing.

Final Thoughts:

“The 54-year old bush-vine vineyard, grown in African soil was made in African pots made from Limpopo clay, enhanced by the wax of African bees producing honey from African flora - meticulously guided, bottled and labelled by the colourful hands of the African people.” - Pieter Walser

Of course there’s a delightful story behind the name of this wine. Of course I don’t feel that I could possibly do the story justice by retelling it. But what I can tell you is that this wine added to my own story. Viewing Pieter’s film ‘Epileptic Inspiration’ and finding out exactly why he designs all his labels by hand, and having a cheeky chat with one of my favourite SA artists, Lionel Smit - the evening was incredible.

So we didn’t really learn much about Old Vines in South Africa in this post…but we learned that I’m a nostalgic romantic at heart…as though there was any doubt.

Find the Wine:

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