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Thorne & Daughters - 'Menagerie' - Grenache Blanc & Grenache Gris - Stellenbosch, ZA - 2020
Thorne & Daughters - 'Menagerie' - Grenache Blanc & Grenache Gris - Stellenbosch, ZA - 2020
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Load image into Gallery viewer, Thorne & Daughters - 'Menagerie' - Grenache Blanc & Grenache Gris - Stellenbosch, ZA - 2020

Thorne & Daughters - 'Menagerie' - Grenache Blanc & Grenache Gris - Stellenbosch, ZA - 2020

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Menagerie means “a strange or diverse collection of people or things.” John and Tasha Seccombe decided to create this new label as a space in which to experiment and work with new vineyards, varietals, and techniques. All of this is important in their quest for more refined and authentic expressions of the wonderful terroirs of the Western Cape in which they work. Menagerie is a blend of two vineyards; the first is the organically grown Grenache blanc vineyard in Stellenbosch on decomposed granite soils, and the second is the Grenache gris from richer clay soils on the lower slopes of the Voor Paardeberg mountain on the boarder of the Swartland. The 2020 vintage was very much a dry, yet relatively cool growing season, with average yields overall. They luckily avoided any heat waves which are pretty standard in South Africa in January and February, leaving them a lot of time to decide when to pick the grapes at optimal ripeness. The Seccombe’s style overall is to pick early, based mostly on taste with an eye on style of the wine that they’re aiming for. They never look for a big alcohol expression (nor a low one for that matter) and prefer subtle wines that show ripeness, while being restrained and elegant. Menagerie checks all the boxes.

Initially they had hoped to co-ferment these two parcels of wine, but the harvesting dates were about two weeks apart, so they opted to ferment the two wines separately. In both cases, they destemmed the grapes into large vats where they spent four days of cool maceration without alcoholic fermentation to better bring out the color, flavor and texture of these two shades of the Grenache grape. The juice was then pressed off in old Vaslin basket press and settled overnight to decant the heavier solids in the juice before being taken to old oak barrels for fermentation. No SO2, enzymes or inoculations were used, relying instead on fruit and cellar hygiene to ensure that our wines don’t require any chemical interventions at this stage. Before bottling, a small dosage of sulfur was added to ensure freshness.

Thorne and Daughters Wines was started in 2012 by John and Tasha Seccombe to produce authentic wines in the beautiful Western Cape where they have made their home. It has been a long journey that has taken them around the world and back to where they first met. The couple shares a mutual love for the Cape, and they want to taste its air and sunshine in their wines. To produce their wines, John and Tasha have drawn on the great history of wine growing in the Cape, putting together old vineyard parcels with new grape varieties and making wines with old school simplicity and modern edge. Their approach to winemaking is simple and gentle, with the aim of making wines that tell a story, not wines that shout and bang a drum. The project was always focused primarily on white wines, with which John has a magical touch.
Winemaking is sensitive and pretty natural, and where necessary he’ll do a bit of skin contact. “For me, Clairette and Semillon have the right soft tannins that work well with skin fermentation,” he says. But the key is good vineyard sources. The main wine is Rocking Horse, which is now around 1,000 cases a year, and the other lines are 100-350 cases. “As we find vineyards that we can work with we open up new ideas,” says John. Many of those new ideas are coming to fruition already with a second label Pinot Noir called Copper Pot, a red blend called Wanderer’s Heart and now a Sauvignon Blanc from a truly extreme vineyard in the Skurfberg.
There may not be a more thoughtful and precise winemaker than John. His ability to dial in a consistent profile across his range, while reflecting the site and grape variety using native yeasts for everything is truly special. There is a soulful bliss in the Thorne & Daughters wines that really shows in the range of whites with outstanding texture melding with perfect acidity.
-Vine Street Imports

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