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Alheit writes a new chapter in the Cape’s sweet wine history books

Chris and Suzaan Alheit’s first attempt was unsuccessful (it’s a challenge drying grapes outside in the Hemel-en-Aarde!) and their second something quite remarkeable. It may very well be the one and only time the Alheits get to work with this Cape heritage vineyard. Never made available outside of their own members list, until now. Today we share with you an offer on the 2019 Lost & Found – a straw wine produced from a very old, single vineyard of Hanepoot.

Dear Reader,

Arguably not for everyone, but there is little doubt that the category of sweet wine is a very important one in South Africa’s winegrowing history. It is etched in our country’s viticultural history books. Chris and Suzaan Alheit have written a new chapter with their Lost & Found and, just like inside a book, the wine inside this bottle possesses a story that you, your children and even their children will be able to enjoy at a given moment in the future.

The wine is a straw wine, produced from a very old vineyard of Hanepoot (Muscat d’ Alexandrie) planted in circa 1882 on a farm called Gevonden, which is not far from Rawsonville where the cliffs of Du Toitskloof open into the Breedekloof. This vineyard is believed to be the oldest commercially productive vineyard in South Africa.

These Hanepoot vines were planted by one Jaconus Hendrik Stofberg De Wet right after the First Boer War and well before the Second Boer War. Chris and Suzaan were introduced to the vineyard by none other than Rosa Kruger who took them to see Neels Boonzaaier in late 2010. The Alheit’s first attempt at a straw wine was a disaster. Fast-forward to 2017 when they were given a second chance by Janus Boonzaaier who had taken over at the family farm. The Alheit’s were finally able to produce a wine from the 2019 vintage.

“…one sniff of the rich, ripe, potent aromatics reveals an enchanting bouquet of freshly boiled marmalade jam, green mango preserve, barley sugar, sweet herbs, wet straw and dried apricots. Give the dense, glycerol wine another slow swirl in a big Zalto Bordeaux bowl and it shifts gears again to offer yet more pithy orange peel nuances and seductive notes of quince jelly, pressed grapes and burnt caramel. Like some of South Africa’s other truly great sweet wines, the aromatics are so complex and seductive that you almost forget to sip the wine! Incredibly viscous and fleshy on the palate with a round glycerol opulence, there is no suggestion at any point that this wine is going to be overly sweet and clawing with its 450 g/l RS. In fact the sweetness is kept smartly in check by a searing acidity that scythes through the caramel and barley sugar laden fruit layers with samurai sword precision. The finish is gloriously mouth coating, hedonistic and persistent with just the most subtle sappy, pithy, bitter orange peel vermouth twang. An incredible vinous expression that represents an unbelievable journey of not only all those who have farmed this block over the decades, but also of the vines themself. A fine wine that will undoubtedly endure and out live most us who are tasting it now. Some of the most desirable decadence available in a bottle.”
98+ points, Greg Sherwood MW (Wine Safari) 
14 November 2022

The grapes were harvested by hand having reached full ripeness by mid-March and they were then spread out over wooden racks and on shade cloth. The grapes dried outside for a full two weeks. Once raisened, the grapes were pressed over five days, yielding a viscous sugar concentration. This pressed juice was left to ferment for more than a year in stainless steel. The wine reached 7% alcohol and a residual sugar of around 450 grams per litre.

Having originally only released the wine to their private members list, Chris and Suzaan agreed to make a very limited number of bottles available to Great Domaines. While the farm finishes applying the last few labels and packaging the remaining cases for us, we will be taking orders on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 2019 Lost & Found is bottled in 375ml bottles and packaged in cases of three half-bottles each.

This is a wine that belongs in every wine lover’s collection.

Alheit Vineyards
Lost & Found 2019

R 1,040 per half-bottle

Very limited availability