The winemakers collections
Using cultural references, Ross Sleet, Managing Director and Co-owner of Rascallion Wines, has taken inspiration from a number of sources when it comes to creating the marriage of culture and wine.
The Winemakers Collection represents the pinnacle of what Rascallion wishes to achieve in winemaking. Named in homage to Ross Sleets’ Mother, Father, and Grandfather, the wines are evocative, and inspiring, and worthy of the people who inspired them.
My wine background is Europe, not South Africa. I grew up wine wise in Europe and the UK, selling wine in the UK here before returning to South Africa in 2006. Whilst I drank wine growing up in South Africa, at University etc., when it came to creating the wines for Rascallion, my inspiration came from Spain – Albarino and Riojo, Italy – Gavi di Gavi, Soave, Sicilian blends, Southern Italian red blends, Portugal – Alentejo red and white blends, France – Rhone red and white blends. All these wine regions have a commonality which is that they produce wines of character and depth, and are almost all, blends. Single varietal wines are a relatively new phenomenon in Europe, and it would be unthinkable in many wine regions to just produce a single varietal wine, other than when its being made purely for commercial reasons. Another common thread in these wines is that they are all aromatic in character which means that they are very well placed to go with food as in Europe, wine is considered a food stuff. It is not viewed the same as hard liquor.
So when I look to create wines for our portfolio I use blends to deliver the end result of fruit forward, aromatic, yet easy to drink wines. And easy to drink doesn’t mean cheap, it means wines that can be drunk by the glass, bottle, and with food. I pay particular attention to alcohol and pH levels when blending with our consultant winemaker, Rianie Strydom, but mouth feel and drinkability are paramount. So even in our lifestyle range, the With Love from the Cape Collection which are single varietals, the building blocks remain important. We rarely find a parcel of wine that doesn’t need some tweaking to meet my specifications which means that the process continually moves forward as each wine is created to deliver the drinkability that I am after
The Rascal’s late Father came from Devon, a richly coloured and beautiful, green tinged county of England. Along the Northern Coast of this county, exposed rocks from the Paleozoic era were found to contain a huge array of fossils of fish. Hence the Devonian era became known as the Age of Fishes, as it spanned the era between sea dwelling creatures and the emergence of the first species to live on land. The Rascal’s Father emigrated to South Africa in 1969, and his life, spanning two continents is celebrated with this wine, as is his love of wine, geology, and yes, fish!
Cultivar 100% Chenin Blanc
Style Full-bodied with and elegant finish, subtly wooded
Area of Origin Swartland
ABV 13.15% pH: 3.29 RS: 2.2g/lt
This wine shows a mélange of flavours on the nose of lime, floral, oatmeal, and honey. The palate has a soft entry with a creamy texture, and there is good balance between the subtle acidity from the limey notes and the sweetness from the floral notes. The finish is slightly nutty with a hint of minerality.
The vineyards are situated in Joubertskloof which is 10km from Malmesbury on the Southern side of the Paardeberg. These bush vine vineyards are between 35-42 years old, planted on de-composed granite on South-Eastern slopes with a 100-200m elevation. The wine is made from three different vineyards approximately 100m apart.
The grapes were harvested in three different sessions starting at 20,5 Brix and ending at maximum 22 Brix to provide a good spread of flavour and acidity levels. The grapes were chilled overnight and whole bunch pressed. The free run juice was naturally settled overnight and then racked into 5 year old, 300ltr French oak barrels for natural fermentation. No SO2 was added during this whole process. The wine goes through 100% natural malolactic fermentation and stayed on the lees after fermentation until December 2019 when it was bottled.
A Mother’s Journey
Cultivar Shiraz (100%)
Style Northern Rhone style, dark fruit flavours
Area of origin: Stellenbosch
ABV 14.43% pH: 3.58 RS: g/lt
The Shiraz grapes were harvested in mid-March, and then cold soaked for 3 days until natural fermentation commenced. Pump overs occurred twice a day. After fermentation, the wine was pressed back into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation to take place, and then racked off into in 2nd to 4th fill French oak barrels for 18 month’s maturation before bottling.
Named for the Rascal and his sister’s Grandfather and considered to be the original Rascal in the family, Edward Ross (after whom the Rascal was named), had a rich and entertaining life. Choosing to forgo convention in many instances and often not endearing himself to many, nevertheless, he saw service in the South African army and navy in WWII. This wine honours his service and that of many others, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
Cultivar: Shiraz (52%), Cab Sauvignon (34%), Cinsault (7%), Grenache Noir (7%)
Style Full-bodied elegantly wooded wine
Area of origin Western Cape (Stellenbosch and Paarl)
ABV 14.39% pH: 3.61 RS: g/lt
The Shiraz grapes were harvested 2nd week of March at 24,5 Balling, cold soaked for 3 days until natural fermentation kicked and pumped over twice a day. The Cab Sauvignon were harvested on the 23rd March at 25 Balling, cold soaked for 3 days and then inoculated in the open fermenter. Initially pumped over 4 times a day and after first half of fermentation was complete only twice a day. Both varieties were pressed after total of 14 days on skins with malolactic in 40% new barrels and the balance in stainless steel. After racking all the wine were matured in 300L barrels for 18 months. The Cinsault and Grenache from the 2019 vintage were fermented in closed top tanks and pumped over twice a day in order to keep the freshness. Maturation in 4-5th fill barrels for 9 months. Bending was done in June 2019 and wine bottled in November.