This is the second release of Smaug the Magnificent. Like with most great things in life – this wine originated with a really bad experience where the liquor board stopped the sales of the 2011 vintage. Smaug is back and it’s all about showing what age can do to a South African white blend. I bottled this wine in 2017 and have been ageing it ever since. Not great for cash-flow but very promising for the wine! The 2017 vintage is just about to start showing it’s true colours. A super cool, nutty, grippy mineral, yet fresh 3-year old South African white. Made to age for another 5 to 7 years. Only for the adventurous wine drinker. A blend of Roussanne, Chenin blanc, Verdelho and Palomino.
How it all started back in 2011:
At the back of my warehouse, way into the corner, I have what I call The Drinking Stash. This is where you would want to be left unsupervised if there was any specific sold-out BLANKBOTTLE wine you liked. The last 24 bottles of almost every wine I produce go there (except the ones I over-sell by mistake and end up having to buy a bottle back from my agents overseas).
So, in that drinking stash you would for instance find wines like the very first bottling of Moment of Silence (2007). Whenever I drink an older white like that I am blown away by the ability of South African whites to age.
In 2011, I bottled a white wine – a blend of Roussanne, Chenin blanc, Verdelho and Palomino. In South Africa, all wines have to go to the regulatory board/control agency after bottling, where they go through 3 checks. Firstly they check the paper trail to confirm that what’s in the bottle is what you claim it to be. They then analyse the wine for all sorts of much-too-complicated-to-explain stuff and it finally gets tasted by a board of winemakers who then approves or rejects the wine for export.
This specific wine, the 2011 vintage, was initially approved. After a year the approval expired and at that stage I still had at least 500 bottles to sell. I then had to re-submit, which I did, but at that point the wine was rejected by the tasting board. Now, you have the option to appeal, but at the time, I had much more pressing issues on my plate, so I transferred the bin towards my drinking stash to deal with later. As the years went by, I would grab a bottle to drink at home every once in a while, and each time I opened a bottle, I liked it more. November 2016, 5 years after bottling, I showed my UK agents the wine. They loved it and wanted to buy it all. So I took a chance and re-submitted the wine to the board – it was approved! I then urgently needed a label for the wine, I mean, a sale is a sale… My son Luca drew a picture of the dragon of Lord of the Rings, “Smaug the Magnificent”. So I made him an offer: a retainer per bottle I sell in exchange for the use of his sketch. He accepted and I released a 5 year old white blend with super success!
So, in 2017 I decided to make this wine with the objective of ageing it in bottle until it starts to show that nutty, grippy texture the 2011 vintage did. It’s happened and it’s time to release the wine. This wine is meant to age. Drink now or age in your cellar for another 5 to 7 years.