Frontier Fine Wines are delighted to be stocking a new range of South African wines from acclaimed Stellenbosch estate Quoin Rock, who relaunched their range of premium wines in 2018, six years after the Gaiduk family purchased the 200-hectare farm on the western slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains.
“This region is known as the Napa Valley of South Africa. If you want to create the very best red wine, this is the place to be,” says Denis Gaiduk, Managing Director of Quoin Rock.
When the Gaiduk family took ownership of the estate in 2012 “We could see the enormous potential on the property, all the basics were there,” explains viticulturist Nico Walters, who set to work on three years of intensive rehabilitation across the farm which involved rejuvenating neglected vineyards, uprooting poorly performing blocks, and replanting 11 hectares of vine to introduce new clones and cultivars to the farm. Today, 36 hectares of vineyard are spread across the 200-hectare property, allowing plenty of room for future expansion.
Walters also looks after an additional 11 hectares of vineyards on Boskloof farm, Quoin Rock’s sister-property in the Elim district on the windswept Agulhas Plain. Here the cool climate and extreme coastal terroir create memorable Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with grapes high in acidity and minerality offering the perfect foil to the fruit-forward vineyards of Stellenbosch.
With premium grapes arriving from two unique vineyard sites, it’s no surprise that Quoin Rock winemaker Jacques Maree likes to take a hands-off approach in the cellar. “We want to be as true to our terroir as possible. We have a particular style of wine that we want to produce, but that process begins in the vineyard. It’s about respecting the terroir and what the vineyards give us,” says Maree.
Along with a dedication to rejuvenating the farm’s unique vineyards, Quoin Rock has seen major investment in updating to the latest cellar technology. Quoin Rock’s modern cellar facilities allow Maree enormous freedom to experiment, with individual vineyard blocks harvested at optimal ripeness and each vinified separately to provide a complex palate of blending components. While the new technology ultimately makes the winemaking process easier, “in the end it’s all about improving the quality of the wines,” says Maree.
That certainly shows in the flagship release, the Quoin Rock Red Blend 2015. A three-way Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot (15%), it’s a fruit-forward wine with firm tannins, and a luscious combination of dark berries, leather, cassis and cranberry notes.
There’s similar intensity in the Quoin Rock Shiraz 2015, with fruit sourced from its Stellenbosch vineyards. “It’s a layered wine,” says Maree. “There are plenty of dark fruits, but it still has some white pepper spice and floral jasmine notes. On the palate it’s a bold wine without being flabby. The acidity cuts neatly through the density of the wine, giving a lengthy finish.”
While this corner of the Simonsberg is notable for producing world-class red wines, Quoin Rock’s unique terroir ensures its white varietals are equally superb. The Quoin Rock Chardonnay 2017 is crafted from a blend of vineyards, marrying the riper tropical flavours of Stellenbosch fruit with the citrus and lime character of the Elim vineyards. The Elim grapes are fermented in egg shaped concrete and wooden vessels to preserve freshness, followed by 10 months of maturation in barrel before blending and bottling. The result? “A fresh style of Chardonnay that still has good body. There’s a creamy mid-palate, but with good acidity,” says Maree. “I like to bottle my white wines a little earlier to capture the fresh fruit components.”
For the Quoin Rock White Blend 2017, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (85%) and Semillon (15%), Maree and Walters work with fruit from both Stellenbosch and Elim to create a layered, complex white wine in the Bordeaux tradition. The Sauvignon Blanc is predominantly sourced from Stellenbosch vineyards planted high on the property, the altitude ensuring a cooling ocean effect. To add further complexity a small component of Sauvignon Blanc from Elim is included in the blend, introducing acidity and minerality to the tropical notes of the Stellenbosch fruit.
An enticing addition to the portfolio is the inclusion of a dessert wine; the Quoin Rock Vine-Dried Sauvignon Blanc 2017. Unlike a Noble Late Harvest, which requires the spontaneous formation of noble rot, Quoin Rock’s skilled viticultural team work carefully in the vineyards to produce a sweet wine high in acidity and intense in flavour. This is achieved by crimping the vine stems in the last weeks of harvest. By stemming the flow of water and nutrients to the grapes, “you hit the pause button on the grape’s development,” explains Walters. But with the grape still exposed to the sun and winds of Stellenbosch in the hot harvest season, the bunches begin to shrivel and dry out, intensifying the flavours and sugars in the grape. After careful vinification the result is a sweet wine in perfect balance, the high acidity off-setting the sweetness and intensity of tropical fruit notes. Made in the style of iconic French cellar Château d’Yquem, “I suggest that it is served ice cold,” says Maree. “That helps the acidity cut through the viscosity of the sugar.”
Alongside the flagship Quoin Rock portfolio is the premium Namysto range, a pair of more accessible wines made for earlier enjoyment. Namysto means ‘necklace’ in Ukrainian, and the label artwork highlights the cultural link between Africa and the Ukraine, the home country of the Gaiduk family. “The Namysto wines are made in a different style to our Quoin Rock range,” explains Maree. “We have really focused on the drinkability of the wine, working towards ripe and juicy fruit notes with softer tannin structures.”
The Namysto Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 blend is a fine example of this approach, blending the structure and tannin of Cabernet Sauvignon with the fruit forward character of Shiraz.
Awarded a Gold Medal at the 2019 International Wine Challenge, the Namysto Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon 2017 does the same for the Bordeaux cultivars of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, with a perfect balance of vibrant tropical fruit and freshness.
Last, but certainly not least, is the launch of the Quoin Rock Méthode Cap Classique 2013. A classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the current release spent a remarkable 52 months in bottle, maturing on the lees, resulting in a memorable bubbly of crisp minerality on the nose, and a palate brimming with green apple, honey-oats and lime. The perfect wine to celebrate the rebirth of Quoin Rock!