The Great Cape Escape: Peter-Allan Finlayson on Gabrielskloof and Crystallum

The Great Cape Escape: Peter-Allan Finlayson on Gabrielskloof and Crystallum
With a winemaking tradition dating back to the 17th century and a diversity of terroir rivaling any of its northern hemisphere counterparts, it should come as no surprise that South Africa is producing some of the most compelling wines in the world.

Yet, with the country’s troubled history of Apartheid leading to the proliferation of massive cooperatives, the category has often had to rely on more boutique importers to champion the smaller, honest producers and thus many American wine drinkers remain unfamiliar with the quality of winemaking found in South Africa. However, thanks to a growing number of sommeliers and wine buyers with an appreciation for this country’s wine industry, we’re finally seeing a shift…

So, joined by some of the Rainbow Nation’s most exciting producers, both established and up-and-coming, we invite you to explore all that South Africa has to offer through our debut national tour, The Great Cape Escape, beginning this Monday in New York City. With five stops across the country, it should be a lekker time.

To kick off this exciting event series, we sat down with Peter-Allan Finlayson, son of the legendary winemaker Peter Finlayson of Hamilton Russell Vineyards and an accomplished winemaker in his own right thanks to his work at Gabrielskloof and Crystallum, to discuss all things South African wine. Enjoy!


TO START, COULD YOU GIVE US A LITTLE INTRODUCTION TO THE HEMEL-EN-AARDE AND THE BOT RIVER, AND SPECIFICALLY YOUR TWO BRANDS GABRIELSKLOOF & CRYSTALLUM? 


HOW IS THE TERROIR OF THESE TWO REGIONS SIMILAR/DIFFERENT AND HOW IS THIS REVEALED IN THE WINE? 


HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED GABRIELSKLOOF SINCE YOU JOINED IN 2014? 


YOU ALSO MENTIONED THE LANDSCAPE SERIES. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THESE WINES? 


THE LABELS ARE BEAUTIFUL AND AN HOMAGE TO THE NATURE SURROUNDING GABRIELSKLOOF. WHAT EFFORTS ARE YOU TAKING TO PRESERVE THIS NATURAL LANSDCSAPE AND COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE? 


DOES GABRIELSKLOOF & CRYSTALLUM INTERACT WITH YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES? 


SOUTH AFRICAN WINE IS STILL RELATIVELY UNFAMILIAR TO MANY AMERICAN DRINKERS. WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SOUTH AFRICAN WINE AND WHAT ARE THEY MISSING IF THEY’RE NOT DRINKING IT? 

THE WINES

Wine and Spirit Label 1

Sauvignon Blanc, Gabrielskloof

  • Wild fermented
  • Fermented and aged in stainless steel
  • Left on its lees for seven months before bottling

 

Wine and Spirit Label 2

Chenin Blanc, Gabrielskloof

  • Naturally fermented
  • Minimal intervention
  • 85% old barrels, with the remainder undergoing fermentation in steel tanks

 

Wine and Spirit Label 3

Rose ‘Rosebud’, Gabrielskloof

  • Mostly Syrah (94%) with a dash of Viognier
  • Whole bunch pressed
  • Fermented and aged separately in tanks before blending and bottling

 

Wine and Spirit Label 4

The Blend, Gabrielskloof

  • 57% Cab Sauv, 29% Cab Franc, 8% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot
  • All the fruit was hand-picked carefully and bunches were destemmed and transferred to fermentation tanks using a gravity system allowing whole berry fermentation
  • Naturally fermented
  • Maturation for 18 months in older French barrique

 

Wine and Spirit Label 5

Syrah, ‘Whole Bunch’, Gabrielskloof

  • 100% Syrah
  • Hand-picked, whole-bunch (carbonic) fermented for 10 days
  • Pressed, racked off lees and aged in stainless steel for 8 months

 

Wine and Spirit Label 7

Chardonnay, ‘The Agnes’, Crystallum

  • 100% Chardonnay
  • Sourced from select vineyards in the Hemel-en-Aarde and Overberg regions
  • Produced using the traditional method of transferring the whole grape clusters straight from harvesting into the press and running the juice off into a settling tank
  • Fermented and aged in 228, 500-litre French oak barrels as well as in foudres
  • Naturally fermented in barrel, where it remains for 9 months before bottling
  • No SO2 or enzymes are added prior to fermentation

 

Wine and Spirit Label 8

Pinot Noir, ‘Peter Max’, Crystallum

  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Naturally fermented
  • 50% whole bunch
  • Aged 12 months in French oak

Previous Post

September 1, 2022
Many consider Raventós i Blanc to be one of the finest, if not the finest, producer of sparkling wine in Spain—and beyond. It’s always a pleasure to sit down and catch up with twenty-first (!) generation proprietor Pepe Raventós, especially...

Next Post

September 15, 2022
The ongoing 2022 harvest in France is turning into a remarkable story. After three consecutive years of mother nature throwing every possible challenge at our growers (in the form of frost, hail, drought and more), a generally frost-free 2022 Spring...