“As we move along in this adventure called life, we’re (hopefully) increasingly exposed to fine and fascinating wines. We forget quickly and the days of getting excited when opening a bottle of Tassenberg is long gone. So it was then that in February 1994 I walked into Western Cape Liquor Store in Stellenbosch and bought my first bottle of TAS for R3.50. In the (student) years to follow, I partook in a lot of Tassenberg drinking (to put it mildly).
All that drinking gave me ample opportunity for reflection and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t particularly fond of the whole wine, but there was one flavour component in the wine which I loved. That flavour component reminded me of fresh strawberries – a sweet, green, wholesome sort of freshness.
In 1997 I completed a month-long harvest stint in the (then) capital city of Tassenberg – Eersterivier Wine Cellar, Stellenbosch. We literally made hundreds of thousands of litres of Tassenberg. This is where the light went on for me and I finally identified the grape which produces my mysterious fresh strawberry component. It was Cinsaut! Ever since then I’d had the dream of producing a Cinsaut that tastes exactly the way I would like to remember TAS. The first straight Cinsaut I bottled was in 2007 – a Wellington Cinsaut as part of the Educational Range. The wine was good but not exactly the style I was after.
Not long thereafter, I received a tip-off from a well-respected winemaker friend about a little Cinsaut vineyard located in the lesser-known Breedekloof Valley. At that stage, the grapes went to a big cooperative winery where it basically disappeared into cheap red blends. So I took the plunge and bought some grapes.
Cinsaut is known as a varietal which produces lots of grapes per hectare. Besides the fact that Cinsaut has huge bunches, it also has massive berries. You therefore have much less skin-versus-juice contact and therefore end up with a lighter coloured (red) wine. I had the grapes ferment in small open-top French oak barrels and aged it in the same barrels for 6 months. Thereafter the wine aged for another 6 months in clay amphora.” Winemaker’s notes