I discovered Sijnn Wines at Publik wine bar while in Cape Town for 2 months in 2016. Publik’s one of those places worth visiting or following on Instagram to discover the wines on their list. It was the Sijnn textural, sensual white that grabbed us.
And then I visited Stellenbosch. Of course, as first time visitors we saw the usual wineries, the oldies in beautiful Cape Dutch buildings and the ones with views.
But de Trafford Wines piqued my interest as my granny was a Trafford, an old Catholic English family whose name is attached to a certain football ground in Manchester (and has connections to what was the White Mischief set in Kenya).
Discovering de Trafford
Take a rough road off the beaten track up to the end of Upper Blaauwklippen Valley in Stellenbosch to find this family winery, established in 1983 as an experiment.
Unlike many modern wineries that are monuments to process engineering and shiny stainless steel vessels de Trafford is different. It’s a modest operation of open top fermentation tanks and stacked oak barrels.
In addition to de Trafford wines, we discovered that winemaker David Trafford started making Sijnn in Malgas in 2007 and soon grabbed the attention of Jancis Robinson.
Wine: Sijnn Saignée
Grapes: 34% syrah, 33% mourvèdre and 33% trincadeira
Natural fermentation. Matured in barrels for 9 months.
Price: About R200. Available online.
On that warm spring day, we discovered the Sijnn Saignée, neither red nor rosé but something in between.
The attraction to this blend of three ballsy grapes – in the 2015 34% syrah, 33% mourvèdre and 33% trincadeira (more usually used in Portugal for Port) is that it is served chilled.
There are hints of blackberry and sour notes. Though light, it has a body and texture of a pinot noir, rich and juicy but with a dry slightly tannic finish and the exact colour of garnets.
It’s about the stoney, dry soils and the winemaking technique that stops this becoming a massive red. The grapes are hand-picked and sorted with but a few days on skins before natural fermentation kicks-in. It’s fermented and matured in oak barrels for 9 months before light fining with a natural clay.
No doubt I’ll be returning to several of these two wineries’ other varietals and blends.
Though for now, the saignée is my summer, slightly posh, quaffer of choice.
New to South Africa, I’m exploring the diversity of wine in the country at one bottle a week. English by birth, I’ve spent the last 20 years in Australia writing about food and drink for daily newspapers, glossy magazines and my blog, founded in 2005.
I now live in Johannesburg and am educating myself on all the amazing, new, interesting and avant-garde wines available in this country.
Note: I endeavour to pay for all wines myself and I practice ethical blogging.
Also published on Medium.