Spier has spent the last two years developing a unique duo of wines that pay homage to the benefits of growing grapes along the coast. The aptly titled Seaward range is comprised of a sophisticated, lightly-wooded Chardonnay and a layered, spicy Shiraz. These wines are a carefully considered, succinct addition to the historic Stellenbosch wine farm’s cellar, which is renowned globally for accoladed wines like their Spier 21 Gables to the everyday, eminently quaffable Signature Collection.
Seaward wines are truly differentiated by their terroir, both within South Africa and globally. The Cape is one of the few wine growing regions in the world where two different ocean currents converge. Moreover, its coastal vineyards are distinct from those located inland, because the surrounding mountain ranges act as a natural barrier to those very cooling sea breezes that give ocean-facing grapes their unique character – a character that reflects resolutely in Spier’s new Seaward Chardonnay and Shiraz.
The Spier winemakers, under Cellar Master Frans Smit, make their selections from a narrow band up to 25 km from the icy Atlantic seaboard and influenced by the temperate waters of False Bay.
“These vines grow in some of the oldest soils in the world, comprising decomposed granite and weathered shale. The water retention is excellent due to their high clay content, which enables us to farm these dryland (without irrigation), giving them an intensity of flavour,” Smit says.
At the height of summer, the confluence of the cooling ocean breezes and cooler soils allows the vines to thrive in optimal conditions for gradual ripening. The vines grow relatively disease-free, and minimal intervention is needed to produce a crop of outstanding quality flavour intensity, year after year. Because ocean-facing grapes have thicker skins and are generally smaller in size than their inland counterparts, they tend to yield less fruit – these factors make it a considerable commitment on Spier’s part to invest in making wines solely with these grapes. Yet the benefits are clearly evident in the resulting wines.
“There is a purity of fruit in these wines, with great concentration, balance and finesse,” Smit says. “The common thread is a saline minerality, given the proximity to the ocean. We’re really excited about sharing the fruits of our labour with wine lovers.”
About the wines
The Spier Seaward Chardonnay 2018: Made with grapes sourced from the Tygerberg Hills, this lightly-wooded wine has aromas of ruby grapefruit, mango, citrus with undertones of raw almonds. The creamy palate offers fresh citrus and nectarine notes with well-integrated vanilla on the finish. Enjoy with pork chops, roast chicken, creamy mushroom pasta – and, of course, seafood.
The Spier Seaward Shiraz 2017: High-quality Shiraz grapes were selected from Darling, Durbanville and the southern side of Stellenbosch for this wine. Having matured for 14 months in a mixture of first, second and third fill oak barrels, the Shiraz has beautifully layered aromas of mulberry, violets and plum supported by infused allspice. The palate has richness with good length and smooth tannins. Enjoy with your favourite cut of grilled red meat and root vegetables or a vegetarian moussaka.
The Seaward range will be exclusively available from the Spier wine shop from May onwards, and in stores from July 2019.