Alheit Cartology 2014 Front Label
Alheit Cartology 2014 Front Label

Alheit Cartology 2014

  • RP94
750ML / 0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

An Exploration of Cape Heritage. Concept: (meaning the study of maps) is a vinous exploration of Cape heritage. It is intended to be a picture of the Cape, seen through the lens of her mature vineyards, in a given vintage. Therefore, the cuveé is composed of rare and extraordinary parcels of mature dryland bushvines. Naturally, the varieties used are also heritage varieties, namely Chenin blanc and Semillon. They have been planted in the Cape for centuries. Cartology 2014 is our favorite so far. The wine is very alive and vibrant. Obviously it’s just a baby, but so far has a nose of lime, fennel and quince. The palate taught, very fine and balanced, with excellent structure and a persistent finish.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2014 Cartology Bush Vines is Chris Alheit's fourth release since it blazed onto the South African scene. It comes from the same vineyards as previous vintages. Chris said this is completely unfined and unfiltered with a very healthy pH. The nose has a sense of confidence about it, racing out of the blocks with orange zest, honeysuckle, jasmine and a touch of loganberry. The palate is lightly honeyed on the entry, beautifully balanced with a fine line of acidity, gently building in the mouth towards a complex, absorbing finish of lychee, white pepper and fennel. What a fantastic wine, but then again, that's were Chris Alheit has set the bar.

Chris Alheit has become the name to drop in recent years for anyone wishing to demonstrate that they have the pulse of the South African wine scene. He has come a long way since I first bumped into him on my first trip to the country at Crystallum, when Peter-Allan Finlayson introduced me to his friend, busy working the barrels. I asked Chris to give me an update on how he is developing. Nothing stands still for long with Chris, a winemaker with high ambitions and expectations. Already, he has proven that he will not shirk from withdrawing labels if they do not meet his standards. His response to my questions were so detailed and informative that I have simply replicated them below, which you can read whilst trying to find what have rapidly become some of the most sought after wines in South Africa...

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Alheit

Alheit

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Alheit, South Africa
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Chris & Suzaan Alheit are a husband and wife team. They have traveled and worked harvest together in California’s Napa Valley, Western Australia, St Emilion, the Clare Valley & the Mosel River. Their love for adventure overseas has led them to New Zealand, Languedoc, Rousillon, Provence, the Northern & Southern Rhone & the Cyclades in Greece. They have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the great wines of Europe, a place they consider to be the heartland of truly fine wine. They strive, in their winemaking, to apply lessons learnt in Europe to what they do in the Cape. Alheit is based on Hemelrand, a beautiful mountain farm situated high on the Hemel & Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay. This rugged piece of fynbos covered land belongs to Hans & Mary Anne Evenhuis. Complete with stone buildings, Hemelrand is planted to an olive grove, lavender fields and a very exciting young vineyard. The Alheit’s aim is to make wines that have a fine form and are not bulky. The result is finely crafted wines that have ample power, but no excess weight – something akin to a gymnast, rather than a sumo wrestle. The Alheit’s are absolute minimalist in their winemaking approach. Grapes are whole bunch pressed. No enzymes, sulphur or yeast are used. The grapes undergo natural fermentation in old barrels with absolutely no new oak used. The first sulphur is applied in winter. The wines are not racked and they stay on the lees for ten months. They do not fine and filtration is used only if absolutely needed. The wine is held for seven months prior to release.
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With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.

Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.

South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.

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With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

EPC31824_2014 Item# 158228

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