Tim Atkin MW - SA report 2022
“The Stony River is a Bordeaux-style red blend that uses grapes from across the Western Cape. Merlot-based with 15% each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a bold assertive, full-bodied style with cassis, cut grass and blueberry fruit, notes of wood smoke, and five-spice and a coffee bean undertone”
DRINK 2022 – 2027
R255 – R1,530
Cab. Sav 15%
Cab. Franc 15%
Bordeaux Styled Blend
- Full Body
- Fruit Intensity
All about this wine
This elegant Bordeaux-styled wine is made with hand-selected grapes from carefully selected blocks in the Breedekloof, Robertson and Stellenbosch regions. The right bank of Bordeaux is known for producing Merlot-driven blends along with other cultivars in support. And so it is with this wine delivering a beautiful dark, complex and silky wine that is made from Merlot (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (15%).
The hand-picked and sorted grapes were held at a cool temperature for several days, in order to extract colour and taste, before being allowed to warm up and ferment with alternate daily punch-downs and pump-overs. The wine was further left on the skins post-primary fermentation before being carefully pressed for maturation, after which malolactic fermentation continued.
The wine was matured on a carefully selected blend of toasted and untoasted French Oak for 12 months, using 34% new oak designed to retain the freshness of fruit but enhance the typical tastes of this style of blend.
This unfiltered wine is a wine of great finesse and complexity with the Merlot offering up a luscious blueberry and chocolate hit to start with, but with the Cab Franc bringing floral as well as almost spicy aromatics out. The Cab Sav rounds things off by building a structure with fine, silky tannins. It is well supported by undertones of coconut and mocha courtesy of the beautiful French Oak.
Dark purple in colour, typical of a right-bank Bordeaux-styled wine, it is a luscious fruit-driven wine with great mid-palate and mouthfeel. It is big and serious enough to stand up to most foods but soft enough to enjoy on its own or with just a selection of great cheeses.
Whilst it is already drinking very nicely, it will benefit from a few years laying down, and can be cellared for 7-10 years./tab]
Once hand-harvested and sorted to remove all the leaves, the grapes were held in a cold room for 7 days to bring the core temperatures down to around 3’c. Following this, the grapes were lightly crushed and de-stemmed into the fermenter where they were further held at cold temperature and under a carbon dioxide blanket for another 4 days, to improve colour and flavour extraction before inoculating with yeast and kicking off the primary or alcoholic fermentation. This was also temperature controlled to ensure lower temperatures were achieved. All of the grapes in this wine are co-fermented, which means unlike other blends which are usually made individually and then blended at the end, prior to bottling, Thorngrove blends ferment and mature together. We believe this delivers better integration and a more harmonious, rounded and luscious wine.
This was completed in around 8 days at which time we again sealed the fermenter and held the must on lees for an additional 4-5 days before using the old fashioned basket press to extract the juices and into the maturation stage on 34% new French Oak, a specially selected mix of toasted and untoasted oak that allows us to support the fruit with just the right balance that delivers a balanced wine with body and finesse.
The wine was matured at a stable temperature whilst the secondary, or malolactic fermentation continued and we carefully assessed it after 11 months of letting Mother Nature do her thing, with the wine flavours and aromas mingling with the Oak until we decided to bottle the wine after 12 months on the wood. This was done meticulously and carefully but with no filtration other than a very basic physical filter to keep out any naughty pips. No finings or stabilisation techniques were used prior to bottling and along with the practically zero filtration, we believe this allows the fullest flavours to shine through, just as Mother nature intended.
COLOUR: Shining throughout but still very dark. The wine is intensely purple coloured and as a result of the dominant Merlot takes on a beautiful violet hue that will stay like that for several years, eventually shifting into a caramel colour.
SMELL: This wine is dominated by the blue fruits one associates with Merlot, but then there’s some freshness in there from the Cab. Franc which lends more raspberry flavours to it and of course the Cab. Sav shores up the background with its usual smoky and leathery finesse. Like all Thorngrove wines, we like the fruit to shine out and the aromas to be bright and clean on the nose. This Bordeaux style blend has some great complexity on the nose that follows through to the palate and you may also pick up the lightest hints of mocha & coconut from the mix of French Oak we use.
TASTE: This wine is simply voluptuous, with the same fruits and complexity on the palate that was on the nose. Blueberry, chocolate and cigars are present but with sumptuous baking spice warmth in balance, underpinned by a waft of mocha oak and soft acidity, with a nice grip.
The wine is a delicious full-bodied one with medium-full silky fine tannins and acidity, which when combined with our fruit-forward style make this a soft and luscious wine but with enough grip to hold its own on your dining table as well as sit quietly in your cellar for the next 10 years if you can wait that long.
Thorngrove Stony River can handle well-flavoured dishes such as Asian 5-spiced pork belly, a lasagne and of course, a rare fillet with a fresh green peppercorn sauce. It will also play nicely with simpler fare such as a stone-baked pizza, or Greek lamb. It is a versatile food partner thanks to its balance of fruit, acidity and lingering complexity.
Given the finesse of this wine, I think a pairing with similarly fine cheeses, such as 6 month aged Gruyere, a milder blue such as St Agur, or a softer cheese such as Port Salut will have you bringing out the rest of your stash…
Stony River – Bordeaux Blend