100 South African Wines to drink now, Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2020

Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2020

Hillcrest Wine Estate is an aptly named farm on the crest of a hill in the small Durbanville Wine Appellation. Open to the Atlantic Ocean from whence cooling breezes ameliorate summer heat in the vineyards. The Saartjie Cabernet Franc Vineyard, just 1000 vines on a third of a hectare, is planted on a northwest facing slope, the soils of which are well drained Hutton and Oakleaf soils. Once harvested, the grapes come into the cellar where they are destemmed and crushed. A cold soak took place for 2 nights with repeated pump overs to extract both colour and aromas. Once fermented dry, the wine was taken to 225 litre French Oak Barrels. Here the wine lay for 9 months before being prepared for bottling. Interesting to note that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, the result of a vineyard crossing in Bordeaux in the 1600s. This was proved once DNA testing took place in 1996 on the Davis Campus of the University of California.


From a bemedaled Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with natural cork. The label is simple and elegant, clearly saying Saartjie which is the name of a feisty little Jack Russell after whom all the single variety wines on the Estate are named. In the glass, the wine is opaque at the heart which pales out to a crimson ruby at the rim. A quick swirl and the aromatics present themselves, gentle berry whiffs, oak and its spice and vanilla, and Parma violets. Entry meets you with a fine line of acidity, and gentle tannins. These are accompanied by the berries and a grind of black pepper. The characteristic herbaceousness of Cabernet Franc adds interest in the long and gently waning aftertaste. Four and a half stars in the Platter’s Guide, and granted 91 points by Tim Atkin MW, and a gold in the Cabernet Franc Challenge 2023. A worthy winner. While very accessible now, the wine will reward you after a couple of years of cool cellaring.


The Hillcrest Saartjie Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2020 is a wine made for food. It is the perfect Sunday Lunch Roast wine. A tranche of beef with Yorkshire Puddings and real gravy would be a perfect partner. Chef Marc Redman cooks in the Estate’s Restaurant and there is a selection of prime beef cuts on his menu, great with this wine.

Author: Michael Olivier

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