South Africa is a country of old family wineries hundreds of years old and new boutique wineries only a decade or two old. An excellent example of the latter is Mike Kreft’s Belfield Estate, a boutique family winery located in Elgin, a windswept, high seaside plateau with a long growing season. As we noted in Report # 30 The Wines of South Africa, fruit ripens late in Elgin, often two months after Stellenbosch.
In 2000 Mike (pictured here) bought a 5.5 hectare plot, planted a 2.5 hectare vineyard, and then produced his first vintage in 2005. His wines are all from estate grown fruit. Since the vineyard is small, Mike personally oversees the meticulous canopy management, which results in high quality, evenly ripened fruit.
Since Elgin is a cool area, it’s possible to get by with very little irrigation. Water is applied only after véraison during heat spikes that might overly stress the vines. While Mike picks a couple of weeks later than most vineyards in the valley, his alcohol levels are low, and the fruit is phenolically ripe. Fermentation is done in open-top fermenters with 5-7 days of cold soaking. After fermentation, the wine is racked to 225 lt French oak barrels (30% new) where it stays for about 11 months.
Unfortunately, the Belfield wines are not yet imported to the US, but Mike delivered his just-released 2009 vintage wines to us care of Wine Concepts in the Newlands, Cape Town, where we tasted them in January. Mike discusses the new vintage in a YouTube video. The wines are sold in the UK by Naked Wines and Cellarmarque.
Belfield 2009 Magnifica Elgin 91
This is an aromatic, richly flavored Cabernet Sauvignon showing delicious crème de cassis fruit with notes of dark chocolate, tobacco leaf and cedar. The tannins on this elegant wine are still a bit tight but finely grained, and the 2009 vintage provides copious, sweet fruit. Give this wine a couple more years in bottle. Better than the less accommodating 2008 vintage, which didn’t show the balance and richness of fruit of the 2009.
Belfield 2009 Aristata Elgin 90
This predominantly (76%) Merlot blend shows a rich, ripe nose of cedar and rich dark red fruit. This continues on the well-balanced palate with ripe fruit, vanilla and cigar box notes. The Aristata is richly textured but still very young. It’s more appealing than the 2007 vintage. Matured in barrique for 11 months.
Belfield 2009 Shiraz Elgin 90+
Gobs of fresh blackberry with cocoa and cassis notes show on the enticing nose of this very young, flavorful wine. The palate is fleshy and smooth with restrained sweetness and a liqueur like flavor intensity. A little more time in bottle should help to soften the still firm tannins. Delicious.