The tiny wine district of Darling is famous for its wonderful cool climate Sauvingnon Blanc wines, crisp and green, great value for money. Almost as popular is Chenin Blanc, the workhorse of the Swartland. The local read wines are mostly made from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Merlot and Pinotage. You will find however some Cinsault too, in South African terms a historic grape variety. Most of these wines are made for immediate consumption and graciously support the West Coast’s way of life.
Wine growing in this part of the world has a long history. And gladly a few blocks of old vines, some fifty years old or even older, have survived. Among them waterwise bush vine Chenin Blanc and Cinsault, which were declared Certified Heritage Vineyards.
Darling Cellars, a member of the Old Wine Project, is the local front runner in producing high quality wines in miniscule volumes from those vines; unusual, rare and age-worthy wines of unique purity, flavour, structure and concentration. But it’s mostly the new breed of young wine makers, and some not so young ones, from the Swartland and the Western Cape Winelands who have in the last 15 years discovered the potential of old vineyards, including those from Darling.
A product of that development is Oupa Willem from Stellenbosch who has his roots in Darling. Oupa Willem is a 5 star red wine, made from old Darling Cinsault (80%) by Stellenbosch winemaker Ian Naude.
The 2018 vintage epitomises what the Old Wine Project is all about:
Competent and progressive winemaking based on a minimum of intervention in the vineyard and the cellar. The essence of the grapes is not masked by oak. The wine is concentrated, full of flavour, low in alcohol, refined yet intense; bottled poetry. This is certainly not a cheap bottle. It is however good value for a world class wine.
A. Legner / February 2021