Pieter Walser has to be one of South Africa’s most intuitive winemakers, and this skill goes hand in hand with just how fascinating of a person he is. Pieter not only makes some of this country’s best wines, but he also spins many a charming yarn. There is a story behind each of his wines and a unique label on the bottle which Pieter has created. This is BLANKbottle Winery, and today we share with you some newly released wines that you simply have to try.
With the winery located in Somerset West, Pieter produces his wines from numerous vineyards across the Western Cape. Some of the vineyards he works with on a lease basis, while others he might simply stumble across and acquire grapes from it on a handshake. Such is the nature of Pieter’s production model, that while some wines have become steady annual releases, others might be one-offs. Furthermore, while there are something like 40 different wines in the BLANKbottle stable, volumes of each wine are relatively small.
Today’s offer focuses on six new releases from BLANKbottle, all from the 2020 vintage. There are others and we invite you to browse what we have in stock on our website and to speak to us if you require any guidance at all.
Under the current lockdown regulations, whatever you order we will only be able to deliver (this includes facilitating collection) your wine once the sale and movement of alcohol is permitted again.
BLANKbottle Winery, “The Spaniard” 2020 | W.O. Swartland | R 310
BLANKbottle Winery, “Boetie” 2020 | W.O. Darling | R 280
BLANKbottle Winery, “1 Click Off” 2020 | W.O. Elgin | R 365
BLANKbottle Winery, “Retirement @ 65” 2020 | W.O. Darling | R 310
BLANKbottle Winery, “Aasvoël” 2020 | W.O. Stellenbosch | R 280
BLANKbottle Winery, “Orbitofrontal Cortex” 2020 | W.O. Western Cape | R 280
*Prices are per bottle and inclusive of VAT
It was during the early days of BLANKbottle that Pieter made a Mourvèdre-based blend from vineyards growing in Wellington. He confesses to not having put too much thought into the name of the wine and simply called it The Spaniard because of Mourvèdre’s history. He used new oak on the blend and it resulted in a lush, fruit-forward wine that was very drinkable. Subsequent releases dried up as Pieter was a bit low on cash to buy new oak barrels. He recently found an Italian cooperage to work with for new oak barrels and marks the return of The Spaniard with the 2020 vintage. For this wine, it is 100% Mourvèdre from a bush vine growing in schist soil in the Riebeek Valley. Just 3 barrels were made (1 x 225L new oak barrel and 2 x 225L older oak barrels). Pieter describes the wine as flirty and very expressive so went with a dumpier bottle shape for ‘stage presence’ and a loud label design.
This wine is somewhat of a sequel to B.O.E.T. which was a Pinotage blend. The label is the same – bearing the face of Boetie Nel who owned this Darling vineyard and who tragically died in a car accident. Pieter says he is moving away from Pinotage that is picked too early so currently has projects in Stellenbosch and the Breedekloof, but he decided he wanted to try something one last time from Boetie’s vineyard. The new owners of the farm here plan to pull up the Pinotage so this wine, as Boetie, is a one-off. Picked early, the grapes from the decomposed granitic soil were destemmed and underwent fermentation over 5 days. The wine shows a wonderful fruity crunch on the palate, but with firm tannins giving it some grip. We tasted it and could not believe it was 100% Pinotage. It is a real pity that this vineyard will be pulled up, but at least Pieter has knocked it out of the park for one final wine.
1 Click Off
This Pinot Noir, produced from a small vineyard situated just over 12 kilometres from Kleinmond, is all about the long game for Pieter. He first came to know this block in 2012 and things didn’t quite work out from the outset – both in terms of what he wanted to achieve in the wine and then the vineyard was sold to someone else and Pieter lost the opportunity to try again. But he kept close tabs on what was going on and eventually got a call from the new owner and they sat down and established a way forward. Fast-forward to 2020, after a few years of hard work in the vineyard, Pieter bottled a wine he believes is almost there. There is significant improvement – as the name suggests things are “1 click off”, whereas previously it was “2 clicks off”. When we tasted this, we were very impressed by the purity of Pinot fruit and balance of the wine. While watching this space for the wine once Pieter is 100% happy with the result, we highly recommend the 2020 1 Click Off. Only one barrel was made so availability is very limited.
Retirement @ 65
This farm actually neighbours the Pinotage vineyard that produces the Boetie. This is not a new wine but it’s a very popular one, so long may Pieter have access to the Cinsault and Syrah that grows here. The sheer drinkability of this wine is off the charts. The elegance and red berry freshness of the Cinsault marries perfectly with the soft spice of the Syrah. Nothing is overdone in this wine. It is balanced and beautifully made. Give us a call if you want to hear the story behind the wine.
The story behind this white wine begins in 2014 when Pieter was offered some Verdelho from a farm in Stellenbosch. The winemaker who normally buys the grapes from this vineyard didn’t need everything it yielded so Pieter happily took the excess. Annual growing cycles vary so this was never going to be a regular arrangement for Pieter. He loves the wine the Verdelho here produces, but had to sit out in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as yields were not big enough. Pieter describes the situation as him feeling like a vulture (“aasvoël” in Afrikaans) waiting for the leftovers after a kill. Yields were better from 2018 and this is the 2020 vintage, of which Pieter has only made 1,850 bottles.
Like the Retirement @ 65, the white blend called Orbitofrontal Cortex is a very firm favourite here at GD. It’s a blend of several varietals as the wine is assembled from barrel selections in the winery, according to Pieter’s conscious mind. Again, for the story behind the wine, give us a call! The 2020 is another fantastic blend and the wine is perfect to drink on its own or with food. There is wonderful acidity here balanced by texture on the palate and notes of stoned fruit and white flowers on the nose.
Account Manager | WSET – Level 3