Alex Milner of Natte Valleij bicycles as far as his legs will carry him across the Cape to find old, abandoned Cinsault vineyards that he can claim as his own to craft into… well… let us see what he has crafted this Natte Valleij Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021 into.
The Natte Valleij Coastal Cinsault 2021 (his ‘fighting’ brand) was an undoubted success at Elitistreview Court. The Editor and I were quite animated in how much we enjoyed it. After that bottle we had a lovely kip with only the best of dreams Beta-Blockers can induce. We have been looking forward to trying one of his single vineyards (labelled with the regions they are grown in) ever since.
Maybe it is worth commenting that Natte Valleij wines are currently the coolest things on the planet for those with a penchant for Saffer Wine. So, The Editor and I feel a bit lucky that, out of the 800 bottles of the Natte Valleij Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021 made, we managed to secure one to dissect with careful analysis.
One last thing, before we hit the wine. This vineyard was planted in 1972, which quite rightly makes it an ‘old vines’ wine. What I want to say about this is, especially with the end of November approaching, if had it been planted in 1973 it would, of course, been described as a sprightly, youthful, barely middle-aged vineyard that looks as attractive as someone who might possibly be called Davy probably is… but there is no reason to worry about becoming 50, or so I am told!
Decant that vital fluid and get your mouth around the juices!
Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021, Natte Valleij
I normally cannot be bothered to comment on the colour of wine because it tells us very little. However, the garnet, translucent hue of Natte Nalleij Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021 looks absolutely delightful. If one were to be as silly as to make predictions based on colour, one might expect this to a low tannin, lightly extracted wine. We will see.
Ah, this is a lovely nose, cranberry and raspberry fruit, with the suggestion of cherry as well, given extra complexity by its floral tones and rich, earthy characteristics.
“Good fruit, floral with earthiness”, may remind some of a classic Morey-Saint-Denis villages descriptor-set and there is something of that style to this nose. It is very clearly different, but aspect is similar.
What is incredibly pleasing, is that this wine is only 11.5%. None of these aromas are ‘turbo charged’ by alcohol, the intensity and pleasure are all ‘naturally aspirated’, with their pure deliciousness and focus not relying on excessive ripeness or heavy, cloying alcohol. Yummy yummy!
I should note a tiny degree of discord in the Elitistreview Team view. The Editor thinks Natte Valleij Stellenbosch could do with being a half or one degree more alcoholic. I think the pure expression of aromas completely at ease with belonging to a highly winsome wine are fine just as they are and need no enhancement. Since this is my site, I am right (unless he edits this paragraph out).
The palate is undoubtedly delicious and, for such a light wine, enhanced by a complex and highly intricate structure.
Natte Valleij Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021 has such lovely fruit on the entry, raspberries and redcurrants, again with a hint of cherry. There is a distinct note of rose petal too, but the light freshness of it keeps it from turning into a more cloying Turkish Delight characteristic.
Then this fruit grows as one swirls it around one’s mouth, as do the tannins and a sirenic spicy character. There is no way this wine has seen a load of new oak, and I am thankful for that, rather this is a characteristic of the grape and where is is grown.
The Natte Valleij Stellenbosch Cinsault 2021 ends up giving the somatesthsia of a highly structured wine, with great tannic grip (even if far from the most strident tannins the world has ever seen), enlived by fresh, fulgurating acidity all supporting the gentle, but very present fruit. The finish just goes on and on with that spicy grip and delicious fruit persisting.
My lovely, lovely friend Ricard, who adores Natte Valleij wines, insists the single vineyards will age gloriously. I am not so convinced, but they have what they need, where they need it, so perhaps they will (you would definitely be better off ageing Ian Naudé’s Werfdans 2017). But why? Why would you age this? This is so superlatively enchanting now, what more do you need to ask of it? It is fine, it is complete, it is ripe for a enthusiastic plucking, so I would go for it if I were you. What a good time you will have!
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