Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scaali Winery - Voor Paaderberg, S. Africa

On April 10, 2008, I had the absolute pleasure to visit with Tania and Willie de Waal at their farm in Voor Paaderberg ward of the Paarl District in S. Africa.

The region is quiet and serene (at least when we were there) with just rolling fields of crops and vineyards.

Willie is one in a long line of farmers and grape-growers to work this land. With Tania's help they began to bottle their own wine about 15 years ago (1993) and have grown slowly ever since. They are farming bio-D and seem to be relatively self sufficient in many ways. With a growing family, it sure seemed to be quite a healthy life - I did ask to be adopted. Denied.

Below is a montage of photos that I took during our visit that evening.

I tasted through the current offerings from Scali (see notes below), and the one thing that I must say about the wines in general is that as a collection they represent one of the most complete set of wines I tasted on the whole trip. Each wine (there are only three) was singular, yet was complimented by its associate. It is perhaps difficult to understand, but as I tasted through these wines I was struck by the fact that you really should have them together. Each wine was part of a puzzle that allowed you to see a bit of the Paaderberg ward as well as a part of Willie and Tania. Of course the wines on their own are great, but as a unit they were something else. I was trying to figure out how I could get me some...

There are two basic soil types in this area: decomposed granite and decomposed shale. The granite has achieved advanced stages of decomposition yet has retained a lot of its nutrients, so there is a good amount of minerality for the vines to work with.

The Wines:

Scali Blanc, 2006

70/25/5 - CB/Ch/Vg - 4500 b's produced

One year in older French; fermented on the skins in open-top fermenters and then finished in barrel. The wine showed exotic aromas with a long, palate coating feel. Quite extraordinary. Give this a bit of air (like 2-3 days) and it just opens wonderfully.

Scali Pinotage, 2005

4500 b's produced

Whoever said all Pinotage smells like a burning-wet-donkey never had any Scali...this one smells like crushed velvet with earthy sweetfruits and wood spices; the textue is med-dry through the finish with a good amount of plum and dark cherries; med-long with some wood tannins and a bit of grip. Overall, quite elegant and long - not your everyday Pinotage.

The Pinotage is done at about 4 tons / ha, maximum. They limit the crop size and prune like crazy so that they are basically getting one bunch per shoot. Limiting their irrigation also contributes to the intense quality of this varietal. There is a 30 day cuvaison with 2 rackings, then one year in barrel followed by two in the bottle.

Scali Syrah, 2004

7000 b's produced - only 250 for the US, though

Sweet sappy fruit on the nose with resin and over-ripe raspberries/blackberries, summer fields, cinnamon and lavender; silky smooth with big fruits on the palate yet quite a restrained style; dusty tannins (with dry leaves and a chalky grip) create a fleshy feel on the finish. Good wine.

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