Overgaauw Sylvaner 2016 Tasting Notes
Varietal: 100% Sylvaner
Sylvaner in general: Originally from Germany (where it is known as Silvaner), it became famous in the early 20th century when it was Germany's most planted varietal before the discovery of the early ripening and higher production attributes of Műller Thurgau. Wine from this grape has a naturally high acid level but no real longevity. It's still popular in Nahe, Rheinhessen and Rheinpfalz where Riesling struggles to ripen - Sylvaner ripens 2 weeks earlier than Riesling. Excellent late harvest style wines are made in these regions. Sylvaner is also grown in other European countries such as France (Alsace), Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Russia.
Sylvaner at Overgaauw: David Snr planted the first Sylvaner at Overgaauw in the 1960s (currently 1 ha). It was bottled in 1971 when most of the local producers were bottling Steen (Chenin Blanc) and Riesling (Cruchen Blanc). The Overgaauw Sylvaner is the only Sylvaner produced in South Africa. It's made in small quantities and has a loyal following due to its flavour spectrum and uniqueness. German tourists enjoy tasting ‘their' varietal in SA and comment that you can “taste the sunshine in the wine”. Restaurants often list it as a unique varietal on their wine lists and are pleasantly surprised at its versatility as a food wine. Contrary to the Sylvaners of Germany, this wine shows great ageing potential. At a 1996 vertical tasting that kicked off with 1971 and moved up to 1996, the best wine was the 23-year-old 1973! Braam van Velden says: “I don't know what makes this wine age so well, but believe me it lasts!” Through ageing, complex characters develop and the wine becomes as David Biggs put it “astonishing”.
- Vineyard location: Stellenbosch Kloof, 200m above sea level, south facing, 15km from False Bay
- Moderate climate: Winter ave temp - 13ºC (min 7ºC, max 17ºC), Summer ave temp - 21.5ºC (min 20.5ºC, max 30.5ºC)
- Soil: Deep Hutton and Clovelly (decomposed granite)
- Age of vines: 23 years
- Trellising: 4-wire hedge system with moveable wires
- Pruning: Cordon system with 2 bud spurs, ensuring low yield
- Harvest date: February 2015
- Yield per hectare: 8 tons
- Sugar at harvesting: 23ºB
- Length of fermentation: 21 days in stainless steel at average 14ºC
- Alcohol: 13.5% vol
- Total acid: 6.1 g/l
- pH: 3.4
- RS: 2.7 g/l
David Van Velden's comments: First produced in 1971, our Sylvaner is still unique in South Africa. This wine is refreshing and medium-bodied with aromas of pear, apricot, white-fleshed peach and small traces of floral and spice notes. The fruit follows through onto the palate with a pleasingly crisp, lingering finish. This is a wine that can be enjoyed on any occasion. It also has amazing ageing potential.
Food suggestions: Salmon with a subtly spiced sauce, delicate Thai curry, calamari steak, mussel soup, very mild curried butternut soup, spaghetti with a sole and a cream sauce, vegetarian or seafood quiche.