Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Restrained Creation – wines from Hermanus, South Africa

 Creation's 2015 Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon 

Last evening I was invited to the High Timber, the South African restaurant beside the Thames – close to the Millennium Bridge. Incidentally it is also not far from where it is proposed to build the idiotic and entirely unnecessary 'Garden Bridge' – an expensive eyesore that London certainly does not need. 

Fortunately the purpose of going to High Timber was far more profitable – an opportunity to taste Creation wines from Hermanus in South Africa and to meet Carolyn Martin, Creation's owner with her viticulturist husband Jean-Claude from Switzerland. I also met Dieter Odendaal, who looks after the company's media relations.

The Creation project started in 2002 on virgin ground, excepting a prio shepherd and their sheep, on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge near to Hermanus. The first vines were planted the following year and 2006 was their first vintage.  The vineyards are virus-free. Total production is now 200,000 bottles of Creation and 150,000 for their second label – Whale Pod.

Carolyn explained that being close to the Atlantic Ocean and high up gives them a really cool climate with 12˚C difference between night and day. Day time temperatures during the summer around between 23˚-26˚ with not more than five days over 30˚C. "Ours is a cool climate in a global context," she said.    

On arrival we were served a glass of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion – blend 80% SB to 20% Semillon. Nicely restrained, well balanced precise fruit and acidity without any overt, showy Sauvignon Blanc character. 

This very much set the tone for Creation's wines that Carolyn showed – restraint, very clean precise flavours and well balanced with freshness in the finish. 

Next up was their 2016 Viognier – unwooded, light peach and apricot, not obvious or blowsy, instead restrained precise fruit. Then on to a flagship – The 2015 Art of Chardonnay from a single vineyard site with a delicate melon aromas, quite aromatic with attractive texture with a slight lactic flavour and just a touch of wood. Although this Chardonnay is fermented in 100% new oak the wood influence is certainly not dominant. However, retailing at £50 a bottle I'd go for the substantially cheaper Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion or Viognier.                

 Carolyn Martin with a book on 
Creation showing Jean-Claude at work
Art of Chardonnay presentation box – a duo of bottles
(above and below)

Of the reds I was most impressed with the three Pinot Noirs – estate, reserve and Art of Creation. No surprise really that PN responds well to Creation's cool climate. Of the three I particularly enjoyed both the 2015 and 2013 Reserves with their lovely silky texture allied with power and concentration while their family characteristics of precision and restraint with freshness in the finish. 

I also liked the floral and delicate 2015 Syrah/Grenache – 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. It is interesting that it is possible to grow with success so many different grape varieties here that normally require very different climates: Pinot Noir and Grenache, for example. It was decided, however, that here was too cool for Chenin Blanc, which seems curious if it is possible to ripen Grenache as there is a minimal amount of Grenache planted in the Loire Valley.  

There are plans to plant some Roussanne and Grenache Blanc.  

Wine tourism is very important to Creation employing 60 people on site with a further 30 in the vineyards. Cellar door sales account for 30% and, of these, 50% are to visitors from outside South Africa.

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