Old Road Reaches New Heights in Tim Atkin South African Report

Top image: Andrew Puttick, Old Road cellarmaster

The Old Road Wine Co. in Franschhoek’s top-scoring wine in the annual South African Report by Tim Atkin MW underscores the strong showing of Chenin Blanc in this year’s much-awaited authoritative precis by one of the world’s most respected critics. Old Road Wine Co.’s Stone Trail Chenin Blanc 2018 scored 93pts, one of four wines from this popular cellar to achieve scores of 90pt-plus. 

The other strong showings in the range were from the Pepper Wind Syrah 2017 (91pt), Elgin Pinot Noir (91pt) and the lifestyle-orientated Butcher and Cleaver Blend (90pt.)

In this year’s report, Atkin referred to Chenin Blanc as South Africa’s “stand-out” grape, with this category being one of the most competitive in the wines he scrutinized in order to make his evaluation.

According to Ryan Puttick, cellarmaster of Old Road Co., the 93pt rating for the winery’s Stone Trail Chenin Blanc 2018 is a tremendous achievement seeing as this variety was obviously a super-star category in Atkin’s 2020 report. “If one looks at the Chenin Blanc wines that achieved top-ratings, it is clear that terroir-driven wines from unique sites are the ones that stand-out, despite the fact that this variety is South Africa’s most widely grown white grape,” says Puttick.

ORW Stone Trail Chenin Blanc 2018 Style 700x934 Old Road Reaches New Heights in Tim Atkin South African Report

“Old Road Co.’s Stone Trail is made to celebrate these sought-after features, the grapes being sourced from a single vineyard, 36 years of age and grown on a site which is a tribute to the viticulture heritage of the Franschhoek Valley.”

The Stone Trail bush-vine vineyard is situated on the rugged slopes of the Franschhoek Valley, some 380m above sea-level. “Yields are miniscule, but the concentration of flavours offered by an old vine growing in such hardy terrain truly leads to something special. We are honoured that the vision we had of making a complex Chenin Blanc expressing Franschhoek terroir has achieved such solid recognition from one of the world’s renowned wine critics,” says Puttick.

ORW Pepper Wind Syrah 2017 2 700x935 Old Road Reaches New Heights in Tim Atkin South African Report

In the same report, Old Road’s Pepper Wine Syrah 2017 achieved a 91pt rating in a red wine category that was, like Chenin Blanc, extremely competitive with Atkin’s Red Wine of the Year being made from Syrah.

“Like the Stone Trail Chenin Blanc, it is all about place of origin when it comes to the Pepper Wind Syrah,” says Puttick. “The grapes for the Pepper Wind Syrah grow on the top-slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains’ eastern face. The name derives from the observations of viticulturists who have noted a consistent South Easterly wind blowing through the vineyard. This has an obvious cooling effect on the grapes throughout the growing season and is instrumental in the development of the pepper-like aromas in this unique wine.

Puttick says that the Tim Atkin Report has become one of the leading guides to South African wines. “It gives wine buyers world-wide, from both the trade and the general public, a guide to the exciting developments in the Cape winelands as well as detailed appraisals of a vast number of wines from all the country’s regions. As a Franschhoek-based winery, Old Road Co. is pleased to be among our region’s other producers that have garnered acclaim for our area in this year’s report. Old Road Co. was established to recognise the winemaking and grape-growing legacy of Franschhoek, and along with the region’s other quality producers, this is certainly being achieved.”