Old Vines in the New World - Boutinot



To kick off #OldVineWeek (13th March- 19th March), we’re looking at some of our oldest vines in the New World.


A bottle of wine is a four-dimensional expression of place – a physical 3D object that also captures 12 months of time. This other dimension in bottle can be ascribed to very old vines; the development of character, personality, over the decades, even a century.

South Africa and Chile have been producing wine for over 300 years, yet still bear the moniker “New World”. Regions like Franschhoek and the Itata Valley have profound histories, whose ancient vines are now, at last, a source of national pride.

It is remarkable that very old vines survive at all, usually because they are forgotten corners of bigger farms, or in some cases are so unrecognisably “vineyards” as we perceive them, being often more an unprepossessing tangle of sticks in a field. Practically these “should” have been dug up years ago for higher yield. But the youth, vigour and character that springs from such ancient plants makes them absolutely essential portraits of place. Not many cultivars specifically survive into such senescence and it is interesting to note those that do.

Semillon in the Hunter Valley was originally taken from rootstock in Franschhoek, by which time the South African plants had already been established for 200 years. Likewise in Chile’s Itata Valley very old Semillon still produces taut, mineral wines of real energy. Cinsault too survives into very old age and makes some pale, youthful wines of huge charisma in South Africa and again the Itata Valley.

A hundred-year time lapse of some of these vines, distilled to a minute of film, would see a blur of activity fogging the relatively slow, agonised dance of the vine itself coming to life, over a timespan of which we have no comprehension. It is very much to be celebrated that these ancient plants, in their lower, stoically consistent yields still have so much to say, deeply rooted in their soils as they are, and the continued gentle cultivation of them and access to their fruit at all remains a real honour for any winemaker today.


This #OldVineWeek we are celebrating some of our oldest vines and as Marketing Manager for the New World I’d like to share my pick of the New World (old) bunch! 




Keith Tulloch Semillon:

Sourced exclusively from Keith’s own 55-year-old unirrigated vines in his Hunter Valley vineyard at Hermitage Road in Pokolbin.. It is this deep and fine alluvial sandiness that makes the vineyard resource so significant – the vines consistently produce the purest and brightest signatures of Hunter Semillon.

The vines have been in the hands of fourth generation winemaker Keith for the past decade. Keith has been guided by his father Dr. Harry Tulloch, an internationally qualified Viticultural research scientist; therefore, he was (and continues today) to be Keith’s mentor in all things vine, and all things grape.

While vines may be old and the experience lengthy, the winery is ahead of its time. Being the first certified Carbon-Neutral winery in the Hunter Valley, KTW’s commitment to the environment means the old vines will be here to stay.




South Africa

Daschbosch Old Vine Hanepoot 

Grapes for this wine come from the Gevonden vineyard which was planted before the 1900’s, the land came into the hands of the De Wet family around the 1700’s. Direct descendants of this family still own the vineyard today, most notably farmer Janus Boonzaaier, the grandson of second generation De Wet’s who originally planted the vineyard.

South Africa only began recording vine age in 1900, so we can only guess the age of the vines for this complex, multi-layered dessert wine.  Being at least 120 years old, these gnarly old vines produce a meagre yield of very small berries. The grapes might be few, but each berry is dense with extraordinary fruit concentration, bearing an enticing perfume for which this Muscat variety is known.



Wildeberg White (SBO501)

The fruit for this wine has settled upon principally 2 older blocks – Landau du Val, planted in 1905 and La Colline, planted in 1936. These days there is something of a bunfight over access to this fruit because younger winemakers recognise the value in the character inherent in these vines. The Landau blocks are almost indistinguishable from the surrounding bush, and it is only really when these frail limbs are laden with glistening berries that they have definition as a vine. Many of the old vines have mutated under the region’s UV into red-leaved plants bearing red-skinned Semillon, that only adds character to the already distinct wines.








Tabali Micas Peumo Carmenère 

The vineyard Peumo vineyard is situated in the Cachapoal valley, a traditional area and one of the best in Chile for producing Carmenère. Planted in 1950, the vines are naturally balanced with very low yields and very concentrated fruit, which result in superbly balanced, high-quality wine.

Carmenère has a complex and elegant nose, with notes of all spice, green pepper and plenty of black currant fruit. Full bodied with smooth tannins and a delicious acidity that is in perfect balance with the concentration of fruit and French oak.








Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre USC004 

Cline’s Oakley vineyards in Contra Costa are likened to a trip to the beach – “The vineyards are like going to the beach, deep sand-soils, and hot afternoons.” The vines are dry-farmed, and roots reach down 25 feet in search of water. These 100-year-old vines produce wines of legendary intensity, character and flavour.

These vines were preserved by owner Fred Cline, who wanted to save his favourite Rhone varietals when he bought the vineyard in 1982, and boy are we glad he did! This wine is produced from two of Cline’s oldest and most historic blocks – The Bridgehead and Big Break Vineyards. These blocks perpetually have fruit that is of stunning concentration which can be reached due to sensitive farming practices, the singular Oakley terroir, and a unique cooling band of air that flows in from the Sacramento Delta. By naturally restricting yields to only 2 to 3 tons per acre, they achieve a sublime expression of the Mourvèdre fruit. These grapes hold dark, dusty berry fruit characteristics that make Ancient Vines Mourvèdre so lustrous