All is Not Lost in a Safe Port
ALLESVERLOREN WINE ESTATE
Friday 22 September 2017
Amanda was swapping English with Afrikaans with the ease of a screw cap as she told the attentive guests the history of Allesverloren. The name originates from when settlers returned in 1704 to the farm after a wagon trip in and around Stellenbosch. They found the buildings burned and all destroyed by fire. ‘Allesverloren’ means ‘all is lost’. Fast forward a hundred years to 1806 and the farm is producing the first port. It remains one of the oldest wine producers in the Swartland and one of 5 port producers in South Africa.
Allesverloren has been in the hands of the Malan family for 140 years. The estate has since grown and developed, initially growing wheat only but then turning to make a sweet fortified dessert wine that became the estate’s flagship port. Today, only red grapes are grown in the stony Kasteelberg soils and the vineyards extend to 227 hectares. All but 1 of the 7 cultivars grown are Portuguese varieties, and with some interesting double story pruning. It seemed strange that there is no Portuguese link to the family other than the history of port production.
The Tasting Room is in the original winemaker’s house that is the oldest building on the farm. The view from the elevated stoep outside the Tasting Room towards the Winterhoek Mountains was superb. Inside, there was little room for more than a dozen tasters. I selected wines made with the Portuguese cultivars as these are not frequently grown in South Africa. I avoided the ‘port’ – in inverted commas due to the place of origin naming regulations – because I was driving and the alcohol content is too high.
I began with the Tinta Rosé in elegant gold and white labelled bottle. It was pleasant enough and all that a Rosé should be: pale salmon in colour; with aromas of fresh raspberry and strawberry; crisp and light on the palate. It made a perfect aperitif for the Touriga Naçional after that has been made since 2000. Usually made into port or blended in a Douro Portuguese red wine, I had tasted once as a single variety wine before – at Bergsig near Wolseley. Barrel-aged and matured to match the 2015 vintage, the wine was full of luscious cranberry, cherry, raspberry and currant aromas. Big, dry tannins filled the palate and perhaps a little more than the fruits flavours. It was my favourite wine.
The Tinta Barocca had recently been bottled and so was still young. ‘Sharp on the tongue, chalky on the teeth’ was how Amanda described it. Deeper than and medium-bodied like the Touriga Naçional, it had similar prominent tannins and a high acidity. I liked the prominent cherry, cranberry and light spice flavours.
It seemed strange to end with a Shiraz but Amanda was keen for me to taste. The wine was made in a lighter style, with flavours of pepper spice, dark chocolate, cassis, mulberry and blackberry. Nonetheless, the tannins made up for the apparent lightness, holding onto the palate for a lingering finish.
Allesverloren was a perfect mini-tasting for me. The range of wines was compact yet interesting. There were no tricky decisions to be made. No food to think about or souvenirs to consider. I went to taste the Portuguese cultivar wines and that is what I did. Visit if you are passing and seek something different to taste and explore.
Wines tasted (bought *):
2017 Tinta Rosé (Shiraz, Tinta Barocca, Petit Verdot) – R55
2016 Touriga Naçional – R110 FAVOURITE WINE
2015 Tinta Barocca – R110*
2015 Shiraz – R110