Beaumont: Top wines from Bot River, South Africa
Sebastien Beaumont is making some impressive wines from his family farm in Bot River, including Hope Marguerite, a stunning Chenin
Sebastian Beaumont is one of the stars of Bot River, a wine region nestled between Elgin and Hemel-en-Arde.
His mother re-started winemaking at the farm in the early 1990s, and it has gone from strength to strength. Previously, their vineyards had been supplying the Villiersdorp co-op. But by the late 1980s the vineyards were getting older and the yields were going down, and they weren’t being paid any more for the grapes. So they decided to begin making their own wine.
She started with a barrel of Pinotage, and this grew. In 1996 Niels Verburg took over from her as winemaker, and 1997 was the first vintage of Hope Marguerite. Sebastian joined the farm in 1999, and in turn took over winemaking from Niels in 2003 for the 2004 vintage.
Sebastian has received accolades for both his unoaked and oaked expressions of Chenin. I asked him what he’s trying to do with the variety, given its versatility. ‘I’m trying primarily to express our farm and our region,’ he replied. ‘It’s a slightly cooler version of Chenin in terms of climate. I’m looking for freshness and crunchiness in the unwooded version, and I’m looking for texture and a silky feeling on the palate in the Hope Marguerite. My wines are about elegance over power.’ He continues, ‘In South Africa we can easily make big wines. It’s so easy to ripen Chenin in this country, to express the ripe and rich characters. I’m looking for a little bit more restraint and tension.’
Beaumont is a huge believer in Chenin. ‘I think it’s an awesome category for South Africa to work with,’ he says. ‘We still need to define styles: we could be a lot more precise about the styles that we make. We are now at a fine-tuning stage. There is the hype around Chenin as the grape for SA to go out and showcase the world, but with that you still have to be really on it in terms of how you are going to make it.’
Beaumont Chenin Blanc 2017 Bot River, South Africa Zippy and linear with lovely crisp citrus fruit. Some tangerines and lemon, and also a slight saltiness. Lovely precision here. Some ripe apple and herb too. Delicate and fine. 90/100
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2012 Bot River, South Africa Fresh and supple, but with some pear and peach richness. Lovely structure to this wine with a slight hint of fig, nut and toast. Lovely freshness on the finish. This is still quite linear and taut, with some nice Chenin wool character in the background. Nice phenolic grip. 93/100 Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2015 Bot River, South Africa This has beautiful delicacy and complexity, with tangerine, lemon and some melon richness. It’s a really focused wine with lovely transparency and juiciness, yet at the same time it’s complex and expressive. So supple and fine. A really expressive Chenin, with a touch of sweetness on the finish (5 g/l sugar). 94/100
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2017 Bot River, South Africa Fabulous stuff. There’s a nerviness to this wine, which has richness balanced by fresh acidity. Pear, apple, fine spices and a lemony brightness. Great acidity here with some structure. Still primary but with complexity already. This has concentration allied with finesse. Saline finish is delicious and mouthwatering. 95/100
Beaumont New Baby 2016 Bot River, South Africa 12.5% alcohol. White blend first made in 2015. Nicely perfumed on the nose. Fresh, intense palate with lemons, pears and some grapefruit, with a bit of grip and keen acidity, as well as a slight green hint. Such a lovely, bright, focused white that’s beautifully poised. 94/100 Beaumont Dangerfield Syrah 2014 Bot River, South Africa 14.5% alcohol. 30% whole bunch, natural ferment. This has a lovely floral, slightly gravelly chalky nose. The palate has some minty notes underneath lush, fresh, supple berry fruits. Grippy and sleek at the same time with a ripe personality. Seductive. 91/100
Beaumont Dangerfield Syrah 2016 Bot River, South Africa Lovely supple, peppery berry fruits on the nose. Very fine Syrah expression. The palate is bright and focused with a lovely peppery edge and real energy. Perfumed and fresh with generosity but also freshness. Lovely balance here. Juicy and a bit saline on the finish. 93/100
Beaumont Mourvedre 2013 Bot River, South Africa Fresh and quite elegant with a savoury spiciness and fine berry fruits. There are slight notes of tea and herbs and tar, and there’s a freshness on the finish. Slightly salty, too. Very expressive. 92/100
Beaumont Vitruvian 2014 Bot River, South Africa A red blend with Mourvedre, Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Elegant, sweet, supple red berry fruits nose. Fresh, supple, concentrated but light on its feet on the palate, with a bit of grip under the supple red cherry fruit. Really beguiling and well balanced with a juicy quality and well hidden tannins. Finishes very fresh. 94/100
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