Stars In The Dark 2020

Stars In The Dark 2020


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W.O. Cape Agulhas




At its core, Stars In The Dark is an expression of Syrah from the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans collide. The cold and inhospitable Agulhas coast is no easy spot for vines to grow. There’s little rain, the winds howl and the shallow, layered Shale and Koffieklip-littered soils provide little nourish­ment. The ripening season is cool and lengthy yet, with their roots driven deep, these tenacious Syrah vines bear minute, concentrated berries with electric, natural acidity.

Experiencing depression showed me that some of the best things in life emerge from tough times and dark places. And it’s a message no place articulates quite as el­egantly as Cape Agulhas. With its unmistakable salinity, this wine is intensely savoury, yet also floral. Proof that despite harsh conditions – or because of them – a beautiful outcome is always possible.

My objective is always to be responsive to what nature provides and so, after another unpredictable year in the world and the vineyards, the fruit that made it into the bottle for this third vintage has been curated slightly differently.

Until now, all the grapes have come from Elim but, this year, after repeated barrel tastings, I felt the truest reflection of Agulhas Syrah would come from blending exceptional fruit from Elim along with a selection of the best fermentations from two new parcels in the region.   So the Wine of Origin has changed to Cape Agulhas to better reflect its provenance.

In the vineyard

Warm Spring temperatures promoted even bud burst and good vigour but the constant windy conditions from the end of October moderated canopy growth and berry size. Frequent showers during the cool growing season meant disease pressure had to be managed carefully.

In the cellar

  • The original Elim site, characterized by its Shale soil, comes from the Triple X clone (said to have been smuggled into SA from Australia) and was 100% fermented wholebunch for white pepper glory!
  • Wholebunch ferment on the second Koffieklip site had to be dialled back to 60% to compensate for the fact that a generous crop meant it didn’t achieve same degree of stem ripeness. So, 40% was fermented wholeberry and there was 14 day extended maceration.
  • The third Clay site was given the same 60/40 fermentation and treated to a 21-day extended maceration. For a bit of added interest, 20% of the wholebunch component was left unstomped to add a semi-carbonic element.

All the fruit used in this third vintage was racked to seasoned 300L and 400L French Oak barrels. It is already drinking well, with the small concentrated berries delivering fantastic acidity and freshness. I’m excited to see how it develops.

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