Whole bunch pressing Chenin Blanc
Human, not corporate, independent wines.
This is where we left you since you heard from us last. It is January 2021 and we are constantly distracted by two questions. Both are about health, survival, persistence:
- Our winemaker, whom we have not heard from recently, is he all right?
- The Safriel House wines not yet released, what has become of them?
Three times we have tried to visit our cellar and people and each time we have been thwarted by the pandemic, lockdowns and logistics. Let us be clear about what is at stake here. The wines are still made absolutely and precisely with the same care as before. Our custodian winemaking team is respectful and careful but for all this time, some decisions about the wines have been left unasked, awaiting our return. We finally need to confront these decisions. And we need to find our winemaker.
We find a routing to our vineyards in the Cape of Good Hope: From Florida, to Baltimore, across to Washington DC, to Toronto, to Qatar and to Cape Town. We stay at a colleague’s farm. It's an idyllic place, the type that impressionist oil paint artists would travel to paint. He is one of the leading exponents of the New Wave wine movement and generous with his knowledge. We make phone calls while helping our friend in his harvest. We find Marius healthy and quietly navigating a local lockdown banning sales and shipments of alcohol.
With trepidation, we taste our wines. They overwhelmed us in quality. The new Cabernet Sauvignon from the high Elgin Mountains, with another year of aging, is one of the best red wines we have ever made, with the depth and power of a great wine. The Chenin Blanc is beautiful, and it makes me so happy to think that we are going to keep making many more vintages of this wine. Upon our return, it is crowned the best South African Chenin on show at the Texsom International Wine show in Texas. The upcoming 2019 Syrah from the Cape South Coast is great; beautiful, seductive, exotic. Only the 2020 Syrah didn't make it. Left to oxidize with insecurely closed barrels during one of the lockdowns when no one could access the winery.
A couple of words with implications about scarcity. As we were unable to be in the cellar in 2020, the volumes we made are small and when the 2020 Syrah oxidized, we may have lost the opportunity to continue working with some vineyards. We may never get back into some of these as demand for such quality is too great and those vineyards have since been "discovered". The owners may absorb our share or give it to someone on the waiting list. We are working with the vineyard owners and have discovered new vineyards for new wines. But for now, we must consider the wines already in the US and those enroute to be scarce and rare.
This wonderful, brilliant year of survival and persistence is thus a natural inflection point for Safriel House. Safriel House will persist into our next vintage, rooted in our Cabernet and Chenin Blanc, and who knows where else?
You may go here to secure these wines of our first era.
All the best,
Lynne and Yair