Tin Soldier 2017

Semillon gris

Tasting Notes

Tin Soldier is a skin-fermented wine made from Semillon gris, which is almost unique to South Africa, and a vestige of a time when Semillon was the grape on which the South African wine industry was built. The vineyard has been established from a sélection massale of Semillon gris cuttings taken from an adjacent vineyard of Semillon that was planted in 1964.

The colour of the wine is unusual, having taken some bright copper tones from about a week’s fermentation on skins. The nose is soft with spice, subtle red fruit, citrus peel and marzipan notes. On the palate there is bay leaf, peach skin, rose hip, greengage and warm spices, all highlighted by the wine’s fine structure. Compared to previous incarnations of this wine, we have dialled the ripeness up a notch, making for a more complete and “grown-up” wine.

The interplay between savoury and sweet is a key point of interest in Tin Soldier, and makes for a subtle and engaging wine. It is dry and delicate, while at the same time showing a core of richness and depth. This wine is bottled with no fining or filtration so a natural sediment will occur in the bottle.

Nuts & Bolts

Semillon gris – Swartland (5 years old) – alluvial soils

WO Swartland
Alcohol – 12.74%; Residual sugar – 1.7 g/L; Total acidity – 5.8 g/L; pH 3.5

About The Wine

If we go back 100 years, Semillon was responsible for probably 95% of the wine made in this country. Tim James’ research on the variety suggests that the red mutation may at one time have been even more common than the white. I’m really fascinated by the idea of the kind of wines that would have been made in the old days using these mixed vineyards, and this led me to the idea of fermenting the grapes on their skins for a few days.

The one thing we wanted to avoid here, was making a ‘gimmick’ wine. In the run up to our first harvest of this wine, we were still considering what our approach might be to this unique varietal. While sampling the vineyard and tasting the grapes, we  hit on the idea of fermenting it on skins to bring out the wonderful skin tannins and hopefully extract some of that wonderful colour. The extraction is managed very carefully to retain a delicacy in the wine, while bringing out a lot of complexity.

It is truly a wine we love.

All of our wines take their names from archetypal childrens’ toys, and Tin Soldier takes its name from Semillon’s status as the old footsoldier of the South African industry. Much like the old toy soldiers buried in the garden, Semillon has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former glory days in the Cape.