I was inspired by Vega Sicilia’s Unico Especial, the multi-vintage blend from Spain’s most iconic winery. I was intrigued by the possibility of using different vintages as building blocks for something special, especially as we soon realized the tremendous concentration we were getting from our Sijnn vineyard and the prolonged barrel ageing potential of our wines. I would never try and copy a wine, but I feel it’s important to be inspired by other wines.
The idea was to pick the best barrel or two from each vintage to try and improve the wine from the one year to the next. Our start was the fabulous 2009 vintage where Touriga Nacional was the star. (Our first C.W.G. Auction wine was a Sijnn Touriga Nacional 2009). In 2010 both the Syrah and the Touriga were pretty special. (Sijnn Red was Jancis Robinson’s Wine of the Week and scored 93 by The Wine Spectator). At this stage we blended the wine into a single 700L barrel. In the meantime I specifically purchased a 900L barrel for the next season’s addition. We seasoned the barrel with some other wine before adding the exceptional 2011 Syrah. (Our first Platter 5 star wines as well as a C.W.G. Auction wine).
We kept the wine in the special 900L barrel for some time checking from time to time if there was anything we could add that might improve the wine. Eventually we bottled the wine and waited a few years for the wine to settle and develop, before thinking of a name and playing around with label ideas.
One of Rita Trafford’s beautiful eco-printed silk scarves looked like our famous pudding stones in the vineyard (although they’re actually leaves) and that was it – inspiration found and label done.
This is a highly personal, handcrafted wine which has taken a lot of thought and effort over quite a few years. We sincerely hope you enjoy every nuance that it has to offer. We recommend sipping slowly over many hours in front of a crackling fire with the odd charcuterie or biltong to nibble on.
Tasting note by Debi van Flymen (Cape Wine Master) April 2018:
Dense ruby with a youthful rim the complex, forthcoming nose bursts forth with damson plums, mulberries and prickly pears giving way to layers of earthiness, fynbos herbal notes, forest floor, cola nut, spice and porcini dust. The nose seamlessly carries through to the palate where it feels as if fresh berries are popping lending a fresh, crisp acidity to the crushed velvet texture before allspice, nutmeg and black olive tapenade notes come through and a brilliant saline quality to finish. The wine evolved in the glass over half an hour developing an earthy Dutch cocoa and pink peppercorn notes. Energetic and explosive on the palate with a long finish, Free Reign First Edition is a beguiling, complex and richly textured wine that will reward judicious cellaring and last 30+ years. 94/100
Officially 51% Syrah, 49% Touriga Nacional. Warning: the 2nd Edition will be totally different!
A total of 1000 bottles produced, plus a few magnums and 3L (for the over enthusiastic)