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The story behind the Misfits

Ken Forrester has a new range of wines which has been an opportunity for a bit of experimentation and the results are two wines called Misfits. On offer is a Pinot Noir from Stellenbosch and a Cinsault from Piekenierskloof, both of which capture something unique.

For many years, the Ken Forrester estate has had a small parcel of Pinot Noir vines, only four rows, which had been dutifully cared for and the fruit sold on to other winemakers. In 2015 Ken decided it was time to get into the experimental mode again and make wine from these few rows of vines. The vines grow on a northerly aspect in Stellenbosch, basking in the long summer days with the occasional Atlantic influence to break the summer beating.

These grapes were hand-harvested, as with all the estate’s wines, destalked and gently crushed to get the juices going. The fruit was fermented in open-top tanks and received twice-daily punch-downs encouraging extraction over 10 days. An old school basket press was used to press and catch the free-run juice in a 300l French oak barrel, second fill to impart a light wood touch. The wine stayed in barrel for 12 months allowing time to gently come together. The result is a remarkable wine with delicate notes of cherry, raspberry and rose petals, with soft integrated tannins. This soft, elegant and balanced wine was a wonderful surprise considering the terroir of these special vines.

The Cinsault’s full name gives in insight into what makes it special: Cinsault Met Sonder Stingels. Stingels are the stalks of the grapes describing that half the grapes were destalked while the other half was fermented with the stalks. The two small experimental batches were fermented separately in open-top tanks, only enough for two barrels. Post-fermentation the batch with stalks had a softness with integrated tannins, where the destalked batch captured a fuller body. The two wines were blended and put into old French barrels, offering the perfect environment to gently harmonise for 9 months. The result is a purple wine, bright and fresh on the nose and palate with red berries of raspberry and a tartness of red currents and cherry.

Both of these unique wines will stand on their own as an aperitif while taking in the sunset, perhaps sharing their stories with friends. However, these stand true to their classical roots of being food wines. The Pinot Noir, with its lighter body and balanced acidity, is ideal for roast duck of pork belly gently seasoned with warm Chinese 5 spice. The Cinsault is traditionally paired with escargot, which the Met Sonder Stingels will effortlessly take in its stride. For something more likely to please the crowds, consider pairing with a rich boeuf bourguignon and fresh crusty bread.

The Misfits range is a showcase of the fun and experimental character that forms the tapestry of Ken Forrester Vineyards.