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Stark-Condé • Stellenbosch • José Conde

Stark-Condé Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Starke-Condé Sauvignon Blanc

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The grapes for this wine are from two separate vineyards near the Palmiet River in Elgin. They are both cool sites that produce fully ripe grapes at a relatively low sugar level and with excellent natural acidity. The wine is 10% barrel fermented, but only in older, 3rd and 4th fill barrels; no new oak was used. The barrel fermentation components were done with its indigenous yeasts.
After primary fermentation, the wine was left on its primarily lees and given occasional battonage for 7 months. The idea was to build richness and minerality on the palate to balance the fine natural acidity. Unusually for a South African white wine, the grapes came in with such a high natural acidity that we did malolactic fermentation on half of the wines to help reduce the acidity.
While the resultant wine may have lost some of its overt fermentation aromas, it has an added complexity and texture on the palate and a strong minerality.

Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Starke-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon

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The grapes for this wine are from 4 different cabernet vineyards and our best merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot vineyards, all at a mix of different elevations. Although all are on the decomposed granite soils typical of the hillsides in Jonkershoek, the soil textures vary quite a lot and that, together with the differences in elevations and clones, gives a variety of different flavour profiles to the grapes. The merlot and cabernet franc grapes were picked in late February, the malbec early March, and the cabernet sauvignon grapes and the Petit Verdot were harvested in mid-March. The grapes were picked into small lug boxes and cooled overnight to about 14 degrees before being hand-sorted and crushed into small open-top fermentation vats. After being cold-soaked for a couple of days, the musts were inoculated with commercial yeasts. A range of yeast was used, several domestic and an imported Bordeaux yeast. About 20% also underwent fermentation with the natural yeasts. The fermentations were hand punched-down every 4 hours for the first half of fermentation and every 6-8 hours until dry. At dryness, the wine was basket-pressed and racked to barrel for malo-lactic fermentation and barrel maturation. Only 300l French oak was used, of which about 35% were new. Bottled with a light filtration after 22 months barrel maturation.

2013 was an excellent Cabernet vintage producing wines with bright red fruits and excellent acidity and with a very nice balance between power and elegance. The wines have remained tight despite nearly 2 years in barrel and I believe it will be a vintage with good aging potential. Continuing a trend of the past couple of years, we are using all the Bordeaux blending varieties in this wine with a relatively high proportion of Petit Verdot which I find work’s well in our area and adds an intriguing perfumed note.

Stark-Condé Elgin Pinot Noir 2014

Starke-Condé Elgin Pinot Noir

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The grapes for this wine are a blend of three different vineyards located in close proximity near the Palmiet River in Elgin. The vineyards are all planted to a mix of Dijon clones.
All of the grapes were hand picked into small lug boxes and then cooled overnight before being carefully sorted and then crushed into small open tanks. The must was then cold-soaked for two days. About 5% of the wine was whole bunch fermented. Hand punch-downs were done throughout. After primary fermentation, the wine was basket-pressed and then racked to barrel for the malo-lactic fermentation and subsequent barrel maturation. Only French oak was used, primarily 2nd, 3rd and 4th-fill and a touch (about 10%) of new oak.
This wine has the classic strawberry and cherry fruit you expect from a pinot with a touch of peppery Asian spice that is typical of Elgin. Very pretty mouthfeel with fine polished tannins. From the beginning our goal has been to produce an elegant style of Pinot, not a big, heavy, oaky-dominated style — a more feminine style, with all the positives of that connotation.

Stark-Condé Rowey Pinot Noir 2013

Starke-Condé Rowey Pinot NoirPostcard Series

The grapes for this wine are from a unique vineyard block located on the Rowey farm in Elgin. This small block of vines, less than a hectare, sits on a very exposed hill that gets its fair share of the Southeasterly winds. The vines are small with low vigour and small leaves and produce very compact, tight bunches of intense fruit.
All of the grapes were hand picked into small lug boxes and then cooled overnight before being carefully sorted and then crushed into small open tanks. The must was then cold-soaked for two days. One third of the wine was fermented using its natural yeasts and a small part (about 5%) of the wine was whole-bunch fermented. Hand punch-downs were done throughout. After primary fermentation, the wine was basket-pressed and then racked to barrel for the malo-lactic fermentation and subsequent barrel maturation. Only French oak was used, about 30% new and the balance 2nd and 3rd fill. After 11 months maturation, the wine was bottled with a light filtration.

Stark-Condé The Field Blend 2014

Starke-Condé The Field BlendThis is our only estate white wine. We have one very challenging block on the farm — the bottom vineyard, just as you drive into our gate — that is quite different than every other block. Because it sits at the bottom of a steep slope as well as being very close to the river, it has a number of different geological influences: there are 11 different soil types in this 2-hectare block! Faced with this difficult situation, we tried to turn it into a positive and decided to plant a mix of varieties that could be picked together to make up one wine. All the grapes were picked together and pressed together and fermented together. In other words, the blend is made up at harvest. 50% was barrel fermented with natural yeasts in a mix of barrels with just a small portion (10%) being new. The balance was fermented in tank. Our thinking was to take two varieties that are rich and aromatic and blend them with two that have good natural acidity to keep the wine fresh. This harvest gave us a bit less Chenin Blanc than in past years. The wine is richer and quite aromatic and with the touch of tannin that you get with Roussanne.

Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Starke-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet SauvignonThe grapes for this wine are from 4 different cabernet vineyards and our best merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot vineyards, all at a mix of different elevations. Although all are on the decomposed granite soils typical of the hillsides in Jonkershoek, the soil textures vary quite a lot and that, together with the differences in elevations and clones, gives a variety of different flavour profiles to the grapes. The merlot and cabernet franc grapes were picked in late February, the malbec early March, and the cabernet sauvignon grapes and the Petit Verdot were harvested in mid-March. The grapes were picked into small lug boxes and cooled overnight to about 14 degrees before being hand-sorted and crushed into small open-top fermentation vats. After being cold-soaked for a couple of days, the musts were inoculated with commercial yeasts. A range of yeast was used, several domestic and an imported Bordeaux yeast. About 20% also underwent fermentation with the natural yeasts. The fermentations were hand punched-down every 4 hours for the first half of fermentation and every 6-8 hours until dry. At dryness, the wine was basket-pressed and racked to barrel for malo-lactic fermentation and barrel maturation. Only 300l French oak was used, of which about 35% were new. Bottled with a light filtration after 22 months barrel maturation.

2013 was an excellent Cabernet vintage producing wines with bright red fruits and excellent acidity and with a very nice balance between power and elegance. The wines have remained tight despite nearly 2 years in barrel and I believe it will be a vintage with good aging potential. Continuing a trend of the past couple of years, we are using all the Bordeaux blending varieties in this wine with a relatively high proportion of Petit Verdot which I find work’s well in our area and adds an intriguing perfumed note.

Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Syrah 2013

Starke-Condé Stellenbosch SyrahThis is a blend from 2 different vineyards at different elevations on our Jonkershoek Valley farm. The higher elevation vineyard has a finely textured decomposed granite soil and tends to produce a more elegant wine with softer tannin, while the lower vineyard is very rocky and gives a denser, fruitier, more tannic wine. The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested in late-February and cooled overnight to 14 degrees C., before being carefully hand-sorted and crushed into small open fermentation vats. The must was cold-soaked for a couple of days before being inoculated with a mix of domestic and imported Rhône yeasts. About 30% of the wine underwent natural fermentation and about 5% was whole-bunch fermented. Regular, vigorous punchdowns were given every 4 hours for the first half of fermentation, then every 8 hours thereafter. At dryness (average 7-10 days), it was basket pressed and racked directly to barrel for malo-lactic fermentation and subsequent barrel maturation. A mix of coopers was used, all French oak, all 300 litre, mostly second-fill (about 25% new). After 22 months barrel maturation, the wine was bottled without fining and with just a very light polishing filtration.

Stark-Condé Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Starke-Condé Three Pines Cabernet SauvignonThis wine is based on our best block of cabernet — a higher elevation block with a finely textured decomposed granite soil with a clay sub-soil and a gentle Southwest-facing slope. The wines made from this vineyard (including our single-vineyard syrah) always seem to have good ripeness coupled with good natural acidity and a unique floral note that sets it apart from our other blocks of cabernet. There are five different clones within the block, but I usually focus on just three that have quite different characters: clone 46 which is well structured, but with less forward fruit; clone 27 which varies from vintage, but tends to have a firm tannin; and clone 163 which is quite fruit forward. The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested in mid March. They were picked into small lug boxes and cooled overnight in a refrigerated container to about 14 degrees C., then de-stemmed and carefully hand-sorted and crushed into small open fermentation vats and cold-soaked for 2-3 days until natural fermentation started. The following day they were inoculated with a mix of yeasts, half with a South African strain and the other half with an imported Bordeaux yeast. About 25% of the wine was fermented with natural yeasts. Regular, vigorous punchdowns were given every 4 hours for the first half of fermentation, then every 6-8 hours thereafter. The wine was basket pressed and racked directly to barrel for malo-lactic fermentation and subsequent barrel maturation. A mix of coopers was used, all French oak, all 300 litre, about 70% new and the balance second-fill. The wine was bottled without fining and with only a light polishing filtration after 22 months barrel maturation.

Stark-Condé Three Pines Syrah 2013

Starke-Condé Three Pines SyrahThis is a single-vineyard wine from our highest elevation syrah vineyard, a small block contiguous to our single-vineyard cabernet. The grapes for this wine were hand-harvested in late-February. After being cooled overnight to 14 degrees C., they were carefully hand-sorted and crushed into small open fermentation vats and allowed to cold-soak for several days. A small portion was left whole bunch and also uncrushed. About 50% of the blend was natural fermentation and the balance was split between a domestic yeast and an imported Rhône yeast. Regular, vigorous punchdowns were given every 4-6 hours for the first half of fermentation, then every 6-8 hours thereafter. At dryness (average 8-9 days), the wine was basket pressed and racked directly to barrel for malo-lactic fermentation and subsequent barrel maturation. A mix of coopers was used, all French oak, all 300 litre, mostly second-fill and about 40% new. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered after 22 months barrel maturation.

This was the smallest yielding vintage ever. Winds during flowering produced a small berry set and therefore small bunch size. When we blend we concentrate on the texture — one critic described it as “having the texture of crushed violets”) — and we know that with a few years in the bottle the flavours develop and unfurl.

Stark-Condé Lingen Red (Jonkershoek) 2013

Stark-Condé Lingen RedThis vineyard was planned with the idea of making a single-vineyard blended red. It is a small, 2-hectare enclosed vineyard situated about 200 metres from the Oude Nektar farm (Stark-Condé). The soils, however, are different — vilafonte as opposed to the clovelly and hutton soils on Oude Nektar — and the resultant wines are correspondingly different: softer in structure and with a wild fynbos note.

The grapes for this wine were harvested over a month-long period from mid-February to mid-March. The grapes were cooled overnight before being de-stemmed and hand-sorted. The sorted grapes were then crushed into small, open-top fermentors and cold-soaked for three days before the on-set of fermentation. About half the wine was fermented with its natural yeasts. Fermentation occurred over a period of 7-9 days with manual punchdowns given every 4-6 hours. After fermentation, the wine was basked pressed and racked into 300-l oak barrels, mostly French, but also a touch Hungarian and American, about 35% new. The wine was bottled without fining and with a light polishing filtration after 22 months barrel maturation.

This unique blend has the typical rich fruit and soft, elegant tannins that are the hallmarks of Jonkershoek Valley wines. The relatively high percentage of petit verdot adds an intriguing wild perfumed note to the wine. The 2013 vintage produced very well-balanced wines with soft, fine tannins.

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