91pts Neal Martin, Vinous
The 2016 Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc, which was in 500-liter barrels and one concrete egg for nine months, has a lovely, quite complex bouquet of melted wax, crushed stone and grilled walnut scents; hints of gooseberry develop with time. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, delivering a satisfying citric attack with plenty of salinity on the brisk finish. Excellent.
Neal Martin, Vinous:
Every year I have promised winemaker and proprietor Samantha O’Keefe to visit her property out in the middle of nowhere – otherwise known as Greyton. Well, this year I am finally able to meet Samantha at the property where we combine the tasting with Peter-Allan Finlayson of Crystallum and John Seccombe of Thorne & Daughters. I must say, it is impressive what Samantha has achieved. Emigrating from her native California with her husband and young children, her relationship did not survive the transfer, but she doubled down and constructed the home, built the winery, planted vineyards where nobody had ventured before, brought up the kids and damn well made one of South Africa’s finest wines. I visit her new winery, built against a stunning mountainous backdrop, a very functional “box-like” building that foregoes aesthetics for a facility that gives her plenty of space in which to work. The results can be tasted in the wine. The latest releases are exemplary, especially the Estate Reserve Chardonnay that is, dare I say, almost Corton-Charlemagne-like in style, a fabulous Syrah from both Elgin and Greyton fruit and a spine-tingling 2017 Estate Reserve Syrah that exudes potential. Is there nothing Samantha cannot do?
Californian Samantha O'Keefe has found paradise and the perfect terroir. Tucked into the foothills of a dramatic mountain range at the bottom of Africa, Lismore Estate vineyards was born alongside her nascent family. A passionate vision, combined with vines planted at 300 metres, which are chilled by winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, produces classic, cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly hand crafted.
The Overberg region is rapidly earning a reputation for premium, cool climate grapes. Lismore's 12.5 hectare vineyard is planted at 300 metres above sea level, in the foothills of the Sonderend Mountain Range. The soils are made up of deep, decomposed shale. The aspect which faces away from the afternoon sun, combined with a generally low mean February temperature, allows an extended ripening period that can result in a harvest three to four weeks later than traditional wine growing regions in South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc is a variety that expresses a very distinct and specific sense of place or ""terroir". The distinct minerality of this Sauvignon Blanc is a clear indication of the cool climate in which it is grown.
The wine was made in an oxidative style. The must was barrel-fermented in older 300 litre barrels to bring forward richness and additional complexity. The wine was given extended less contact with occasional bâtonnage, to contribute further to the rounder mouth feel and creaminess of this elegantly textured wine. The wine was aged for 11 months.