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BLANK Bottle, Manon des Sources Elgin 2010
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
The vineyard for this wine is owned by a doctor of Pieter's acquaintance. As part of the contract for the grapes, Pieter makes a couple of barrels of wine every year for the physician's personal consumption. It turns out that he wasn't drinking his way through all of this, so Pieter has re-acquired some parcels of the wine. Sporting a label drawn by Pieter's daughter, Alexa, this is from the 2010 vintage and has aged extremely gracefully. Made from a majority of Riesling with small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this is very intense and complex showing exotic fruit, petrol, and floral notes. A richer textural component from the Sauvignon and Semillon bolsters the fine Riesling structure and acidity to create compelling tension.
Blankbottle are a range of wines in constant flux with names and varietals changing from year to year depending on what interesting batches critically-acclaimed South African winemaker Pieter H. Walser finds on his explorations through South Africa vineyards. Pieter explains when he first established the basic premise of the concept. 'In 2004, a lady came to my house to buy wine. She asked for anything but Shiraz. 'I don't drink Shiraz' were her exact words. I poured her a glass of wine. She loved it and bought 3 cases. It was a straight Shiraz. It's a fact. We do judge the book by its cover.' And so was born the idea of a range of wines that has no limitations when it comes to style, vintage, area or grape varieties.Walser's operation is unusual because he owns no vineyards and rarely makes the same wine twice. He works only with small batches, buying grapes from around 60 vineyards on other people's soil all over the Western Cape. The whole harvest takes about 100 days to complete. 'People say,How can you harvest 58 vineyards? But I have 28 different varieties in my cellar. At the start of the year I only look at Wellington, where the grapes ripen first. Then Swartland, and as I pick the first in Swartland, I start to look at Darling, then Elgin, and so on, ending with the cabernet in Ceres Plateau.The labels carry an enigmatic title, a picture, hand crafted by Walser, and little else. The maker's policy is to say nothing about the grapes or the proportions in the blend. And he takes a casual approach to more than just the label. Indeed, Walser suggests that the plan behind his technique for making his sought-after products is simply not to think too much about it. As an experimental winemaker, he changes direction every year, buying in grapes and blending them in different ways to make a natural wine. His maverick approach extends to him using bottles of different shapes bottling, for example, a Shiraz in a Riesling bottle. (You can however find the details of the blend on the QR code on the bottle!)