Kinnegar Wines , Importers of fine selected wines

Importers of fine selected wines

Specialist in South African Wines



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This is an exciting new vineyard venture, called Sijnn by the original Khoisan inhabitants, by an extra ordinary winemaker that is already producing extra ordinary wines. It is set on a stony plateau between Malagas and Cape Infanta approx. 230km east of Cape Town. Together with a few strategic partners, a small run-down ostrich and grain farm was purchased early in 2004 by David & Rita Trafford of De Trafford wines in Stellenbosch.  The new and potential vineyards are located 70m above the Breede River, 25 km from the sea by boat and 15 km as the crow flies. At this stage, there are no other vineyards within a 40 km radius, the closest being those inland around Swellendam and along the coast at Elim.

The complex stony soils, together with a warm dry climate (350mm) moderated by the constant sea breezes offer excellent vineyard potential and the possibility of producing something unique. As this is quite a pioneering venture, extensive soil studies were undertaken together with climatic data analysis, a variety of proven Mediterranean or southern European varieties have been planted, including Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Trincadeira together with future plantings of Grenache. Chenin Blanc and Viognier have been planted for a white wine blend together with future plantings of Roussanne.

On 9 February 2007 the first grapes from the Cape Infanta/Malagas area were carefully picked and transported back to Stellenbosch for vinification by the De Trafford team. Production has grown from 10 tons in 2007 to 30 tons in 2009. All the vines are grown as bush vines with a maximum expected yield of 3 to 4 tons / ha. The new wines were matured in a mix of new and old 700L French oak barrels, bottled after 17 months and are already showing a unique and appealing character.

Over the next two to three years they intend to build a small winery on the property and develop another 4ha vineyard, mostly white varieties, and 1ha olives inter planted as partial wind breaks.

Wine of Origin Malgas

The Wine and Spirit Board has recently approved the formation of a new ward, Malgas, for the new Sijnn vineyard on the Lemoentuin farm, close to the village of Malgas. They are  hoping a some other farmers will also be brave enough to plant a few vineyards in the area soon. They will be able to use “Wine of Origin Malgas”, instead of “Swellendam” from the 2010 vintage.

Jancis Robinson wrote on 3 December 2010

Everything is new about this ground-breaking wine. This is its debut vintage (she is referring to the 2007 vintage). It is being exported for the first time. And it is grown in a vineyard 40 km from the nearest vines, the closest being those of much hotter terrain way inland around Swellendam and the vines of cool Elim on the coast. The vineyard lies way to the east of Cape Agulhas between the hamlet of Malagas and Cape Infanta 15 km from the ocean at the mouth of the Breede River, called Sijnn by the original Khoisan inhabitants of the region. (Sijnn may be difficult to pronounce -say_in- but it works well for online searches.)

This is a joint venture between South African environmental businessman Quentin Hurt, Simon Farr of UK importers Bibendum Wine and gifted architect-turned-winemaker David Trafford, who has his own eponymous winery in Stellenbosch. You can read a bit more about him in connection with this 2002 wine of the week.

The idea behind Sijnn is to grow warm-climate varieties in this cool climate and, presumably, push things to the limit. Trafford has long been a terroirist and is presumably inspired by the slate and rolled stone plateau on which this new vineyard sits. The blend in this particular maiden vintage is 42% Shiraz, 26% Mourvèdre, 21% Touriga Nacional, 10% Trincadeira and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, all vines being grown as bushvines on these rugged, low-yielding soils. Average yields in this first year of commercial production were a completely ludicrous 6 hl/ha.

The land used to be home to an ostrich farm, apparently, but that is certainly not taste-able. The alcohol level of 14.5% is not obvious either. The wine itself is sweet with the merest hint of coffee toasted barrels but the fruit dominates and is attractively complex, very gentle and flattering at first, even though the wine finishes firm, sinewy and very polished. The overall impression is of a South African red that is unusually lively, complex, confident and creditable.

The wine was made at De Trafford in Stellenbosch, although the aim is to build a winery on the vineyard in the next few years. The must was kept on the skins between six and nine days for a spontaneous fermentation and was aged half in French barriques and half in what must be very unwieldy 700-litre casks for a total of 18 months, with a few of the larger casks being new.

The first Sijnn wine arrived in Ireland in August 2011 with the 2008 vintage. We are now on the 2009 with the 2010 due in our summer.


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Swartland Vineyards

Up in the mountains north of Cape Town, the revolutionaries are massing. This is the Swartland – ''the black land’’ – a place of big skies, where wheat fields blaze, grey-barked renosterbos (''rhinoceros bush’’) grows in abundance and the landscape is chequered with vineyards.

When it comes to wine, nowhere in South Africa is as exciting as Swartland right now. This place feels like frontier country. The vineyards aren’t new – many of them were planted decades ago – but traditionally it was the grain crop they took seriously here. Grapes were trucked into the nearest co-op and lost in a tidal wave of mediocrity. Now a new generation of winemakers is hunting out those precious parcels of gnarled old vines – they produce more intensely flavoured grapes – and making wine that everyone is talking about.

It all started in the late Nineties when Charles Back, already the owner of an estate in Paarl, bought a small farm near Malmesbury, put in a winemaker called Eben Sadie, and began making wines under the Spice Route label but operating independently since 2001.  

While Carla Kretzel and her family have been there at Lammersoek since 1995, now more and more people have made their way to Swartland, among them the revolution’s other key figures: Adi Badenhorst, previously the winemaker at Rustenberg; Chris Mullineux and his Californian wife Andrea; and Marc Kent, of Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek (you might already know his Chocolate Block and Porcupine Ridge wines), who has a new project called Porcelain Mountain. 

The winemaking founders of the Swartland Independent believe in minimal intervention in both the vineyard and winery, minimal new oak and the use of a limted number of grape varietals considered best suited to the area. All of this is focused on producing wines that are a true expression of their origin.


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Elim, meaning place of God,  is located close to Cape Agulhas where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the most southern tip of Africa. It is a small and relatively new wine area with a very cool climate. Situated 20 kilometers from Agulhas - the southern most tip of Africa and where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, vines were first planted here over 100 years ago for altar wine but this gradually ceased until viticulture was resumed in 1997.

Apart from the cooling effect of the maritime location, the winds play a big role here and keeps growth in check allowing the vines to concentrate their efforts on packing flavour from the soil into its grapes. It is especially suited to Sauvignon Blanc where some stunning examples are made and is the most widely grown varietal with Semillon and Shiraz showing promise.

The picturesque village of Elim, a Moravian missionary settlement founded in 1824 is itself  a national monument.




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Elgin, which is about an hours drive from Cape Town across Sir Lowry's Pass is considered one of the coolest wine growing areas in the Cape. This is partly due to its higher altitude and it is also close to the sea. However, the same 'table cloth' of cloud that frequently covers Table Mountain can also cover the Elgin vineyards cooling them further. The result here from the slower ripening grapes is considerable depth of flavours with minerality and an overall balance and elegance. Several vineyards are based here while others wineries, based in warmer Stellenbosch, are planting now in this cooler climate.


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ga-12Stellenbosch is probably the most famous and widely know wine area in the Cape. It was founded in 1769 by Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Cape and he called it after himself - Stel's forest.

The historical town , which features some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture, boasts a winemaking tradition which stretches back to the end of the 17th-century. The mountainous terrain, good rainfall, deep well-drained soils and diversity of terroirs make this a sought-after viticultural area. The rapidly increasing number of wine estates and producers (in excess of 160) includes some of the most famous names in Cape wine. The district, with its mix of historic estates and contemporary wineries, produces excellent examples of almost all the noble grape varieties and is known for the quality of its blended reds.

Stellenbosch is also the educational and research centre of the winelands. Stellenbosch University is the only university in South Africa which offers a degree in viticulture and oenology, and it has many of the country’s most successful winemakers as alumni. The Elsenburg School of Agriculture is also near Stellenbosch, as is the Nietvoorbij Institute of Viticulture and Oenology. This organisation has one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world and, at its experimental farms (situated in several winegrowing districts), important research into new varietals, clones and rootstocks is undertaken.

The intensively farmed Stellenbosch district has been divided up into several smaller viticultural pockets including Banghoek, Bottelary, Devon Valley, Helderberg, Jonkershoek Valley, Papegaaiberg, Polkadraai Hills and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch.

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