Ian Naude’s Oupa Willem 2020 is a wine with more of a nod to history than being named after Ian’s grandfather (oupa) Willem, it is also a recreation of a style of wine that belongs to the South African wine scene of the 1950s and 1960s.
Back in those distant days before even I was born, it was common practice to stretch one’s Cabernet production by blending it with the commonly grown Cinsault bush vine fruit.
However, just because they were made to ‘make the noble Cabernet go further’ did not mean they were all lesser wines. The style could produce, as with this recreation, fine wines that took on new dimensions by being blended with different varietals.
Oupa Willem 2020 is a blend of 82% Cinsault, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, spontaneously fermented with 40% of the grapes going into fermenters as whole bunches. The resultant wine clocks in at a surprising 11.5% alcohol.
I realise that is going to instantly turn off the kind of buyer who wants as much alcohol in their wines as possible. They are only happy when they are paralytic from swilling 15.5% Barossa Shiraz/Cabernet blends that have the texture of slightly dilute HP Sauce. We call these people philistines because they just want to get tired and emotional as newts and they have no interest in the scintillating thrills that wallowing in the aesthetics of wine can provide.
Ian Naude carefully tastes his grapes in the vineyard to assess when they will have the maximum flavour and expression of old vines grown in those sites. When they hit that peak of maximum pleasure, he picks – potential alcohol of the grapes be damned. So, Ian feels the grapes that made this wine were at the zenith of their pleasure engorgement, even though they only were ripe enough to make an 11.5% wine. I approve of Ian Naude’s first commitment being to grow and harvest the finest quality grapes to make the finest wine!
Fight that wax off and pop its cork!
Oupa Willem 2020, Ian Naude
The first sniff reveals delicate scents of red fruits suffused with heady aromas of rose petals and hints of exotic spice.
A second sniff shows the red fruit is only part of a continuum of fruit flavours that blend seamlessly from lingonberry to blackcurrant the involute nature of which is enhanced by the rose, spice and the merest suggestion of Cabernet Franc leafiness.
It is a highly engaging nose, thick with fragrance, sweet with fruit, yet not at all powered by alcohol. This is the pure expression of the grapes, and they express that they were picked at the peak of their unequivocal attractiveness.
It is amazing that so much perfume can come at such a low alcohol level, and the nose is all the more beautiful for lacking any heat or burn to it. Oupa Willem 2020 is totally at ease with itself. Confident, charismatic, captivating.
When one tastes the first impression is of light red fruit with good energy and life. It unfolds on one’s palate to deliver rose petal and musk flavours. Very nice!
As you swirl Oupa Willem 2020 around your palate a leafy freshness develops along with darker fruit flavours. Given how light it initially tasted it begins to show a reasonable degree of structure to its tannins, which build and, with the bright acidity, give a vibrant grip to the palate. The tannins seem surprisingly ripe for a 11.5% wine.
The more you taste, the more you are seduced by the fruity, floral flavours that permeate the now distinctly tannic palate. More and more keeps on being revealed by this palate, it is quite the little temptress, and to keep tasting it is to love it with a greater intensity. It is delicious!
There is no shame in drinking this now, but I feel in 5-10 years this will display even more complexity and there will be even more integration between the components that already sing such a sweet song together.
Oupa Willem 2020 is clearly the best one yet; chapeau, Ian!
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