Kinnegar Wines , Importers of fine selected wines

Importers of fine selected wines

Specialist in South African Wines

Malgas

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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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