Empire Strikes Back BLANKbottle 2020

Empire Strikes Back BLANKbottle 2020

South Africa
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Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend

75cl * Vegan * 13.5% ABV * Stellenbosch, South Africa

Unsurprisingly, Pieter Hauptfleisch Walser's BLANKbottle labels don't give much away. You won't find a grape variety or an indication of style mentioned - he does this in order that the wine is judged on its own merits. Sometimes he makes up to 30 different wines per year, many of which are one-offs and never repeated. But this eclectic approach has gained him a cult following and we're lucky to stock a handful of his wines.

A reference to the fact that Pieter feels Stellenbosch has been overlooked following the Swartland Revolution of wine. The label represents the historical Swartland revolution with its star, and the stripes of the traditional, conservative neat and tidy Empire of Stellenbosch.

This is a blend from a selection of vineyards - Chenin blanc from the granite Firgrove hills, Chardonnay from the Helderberg's deep rich soils, 2 blocks of Verdelho from the Helderberg foothills and Rousanne and Marsanne from the Blaauwklippen road. Lots of fruit sweetness and ripeness, seemingly a little more traditional, but has that slightly wild element to it that defines BLANKbottle wines.

Whole bunch pressed, Amphora (big concrete eggs) or old French oak, spontaneous fermentation, stays on gross lees for 10 months, blend then bottled! Simple winemaking.

In Pieter's own words:

"The image of South African wines has changed dramatically over the past 10 years and the Swartland played a huge part in this. Their wines, especially the Rhône-style white blends are top notch. They are fun, young, energetic and unique and started to gain international fame. Stellenbosch, however (where I studied winemaking), is the original EMPIRE of South African wine. Like most of us, I like to support the underdog, and in the case of white blends, the Empire became exactly that. So I created a white blend based on similar varieties - a combination that could give some of the Swartland white blends a go. The empire is therefore now striking back at the Swartland."