SIGNAL HILL WINES



SIGNAL HILL wines are sometimes made in very small and rare batches, and they are not all available worldwide. To give you an idea, Clos d'Oranje is only 600 bottles per vintage, so you will find it in top restaurants in France, in Greece, in South Africa, in Mauritius and in Dubai... but once the allocation for the trade is finished, it is finished.

For 2009 the core of our available range is:

- Eszencia NV (2002) - The best wine ever made in South Africa according to the US trade 96/100

This unique wine has been a unique once off production of a legendary sweet wine. The SIGNAL HILL ESZENCIA is the highest ever rated South African wine on the US market, with 96/100, by Steven Tanzer. The Eszencia made the top 5 of the most interesting wines of the world by Tom Stevenson, and 5 stars in the Platter's. Only 300 bottles of 375ml have been produced of this nectar. Produced following the traditionnal Hungarian methods, this decadent wine will be able to stand the test of time, and with 520 g/l of residual sugar, and 14,5 g/l of acidity, one can save this wine for the next generation... A blend of Furmint and Sauvignon Blanc, the ESZENCIA fermented in 20 litres glass fermenters for 4 years. Filtered only once at the bottling, this wine must be drunk as the Emperors used to drink the Eszencia, on its own, as a jewel to share. Alcohol content is 5,2%. Available by the bottle. No more than 3 bottles per wine lover.


- Clos d'Oranje 2005(sold out)/2006(sold out)/2007/2008/2009 syrah - The most precious red  with Platter's 5 stars for 2006 and 4 stars and a half for the other vintages

The only Cape Town city vineyard is the South African counter part of the Parisian Clos Montmartre that Jean Vincent RIDON vinified for the vintage 2001. This small block, located at the bottom of Table Mountain, on Lincoln road, is the only visible sign of the wine history of Cape Town which started in 1659 when the first wine was produced from grapes grown in the Gardens. 600 bottles were produced from this unique "plot" of UNGRAFTED syrah. The vines, grown according to organic farming practices, are hand harvested at perfect ripeness to protect their unique flavours. This legendary wine is the fruit of a partnership between the Andrag family and the Ridon family. The limited production makes it the most sought after South African red wine. Limited quantities, so no more than 3 bottles will be allocated to each wine lover.


- SYRAH 2005 STELLENBOSCH (sold out)- One of the best terroirs of South Africa, with grapes from Piemond farm on the slopes of the Helderberg. A classic Rhone approach of the winemaking, bold, spicy, deep but rustically refined, and fresh on the palate... the type of syrah that will make you open a second bottle, and that will make you understand that new world wine does not necessarily mean physical, but that it can be spiritual. Hot fermentation, malo in barrels, old French oak, and a little trick: a few barrels of wine fermented with the stems... old style. Drink now for the black fruit and the violet or in 2011-2015 for the white pepper and dry Provence herbs...

- SEMILLON 2011 WESTERN CAPE - Original South African grape, even if it can be found in Bordeaux as part of the blend with the Sauvignon Blanc. This very old vineyard, probably more than 50 years old, produce a very very small crop. Fermented in new oak barrels, it was kept on the lees for more than 3 years to allow a perfect creaminess on the palate. It allowed the new oak to be perfectly integrated as well. This semillon is a Classic with  huge palate weight but a great balance. Perfect for white meats and spicy food. 

- CABERNET FRANC 2006 CONSTANTIA (sold out)- From the farm of Mr Richard Harris, a Loire Style cabernet franc, fresh, leafy, spicy but ripe. Constantia is one of the coolest, and wettest region in South Africa, but early ripening cabernet franc enjoys these conditions so close to what Chinon could offer. In term of ageability, the potential is here... but this is our first release of this constantia terroir, so we can promise a 2015 peak, but may be much later.... Perfect for poultry, and rustic enough to handle spices, a refined elegant example of cabernet franc at its best. No new oak, we are not in Bordeaux here, no need to artificially spice up the wines...

- CINSAULT 2012 Old Vines from DARLING. Only two barrels made from these very old vines of what was the key red grapes of South Africa. Red fruit, strawberry, raspberry, a fresh acidity and only 12% alcohol! Light oaking, sweetness of the gentle extraction, probably a keeper, but it will be drunk before that.  

- GRENACHE NOIR 2014 DURBANVILLE - om the deep soil of this cool climate, Grenache can prove why its nickname is "The Pinot of the South"... soft, velvety, powerful, with cherry and blackcurrant fruit, a perfect food matcher, with no visible harsh tannins... Open tank fermented, classic low oxygen fermentation, with feet crushing and stomping, but no pump over... this is a delicate berry... not cabernet sauvignon... so we must respect the fruit to extract the finesse only... Completely unknown to the South African market, Grenache Noir is perfectly adapted to local conditions... when you know how to handle the fruit. Jean Vincent RIDON's experience in Chateauneuf du Pape and in the Roussillon was definitely an asset to produce this surprisingly elegant wine...  And we still have some 2002 available on some markets, it is drinking beautifully, so this wine will age nicely.

- PETIT VERDOT 2004 SIMONSBERG PAARL - For a long time SIGNAL HILL was the only producer of commercially available petit verdot in South Africa. This wild grape, barely ripening in the Medoc, found its real home in South Africa. But this grape gives a wild wine, loaded with tannins, acidity, power! As a single cultivar it is often difficult to approach, but it will turn a average merlot into a wine... so the trick is to make this wild wine a civilized refined beverage, and the only solution is TIME... our Petit Verdot is aged 40 months in small French oak barrels. This is the reason why we only release the 2004 now. But then it is leather, cigarbox, cedarwood, black Zanzibar pepper, cloves... the refinement of the "elevage" over a long period. Selected for Nederburg Auction, our petit verdot is found on the planet's best tables, from New York to Paris, as it is the perfect food matcher... 1999, 2000 and 2001 vintages are still showing beautiful...

- PINOT NOIR  2010 STELLENBOSCH - Our biodynamic one hectare block of pinot (clone 115-113-777), from Sir Lowry's Pass Village, is planted at high density... with such a small yield... 2005 is powerful and black fruits, 2006 is autumn forest and red fruits... being organic also means as well that each vintage is different, not buffered or levelled, as the old Burgundy was... Only a few hundred bottles are produced every year... mostly available in South Africa only, but as well on the US eastern seaboard and in Illinois... Pinot is the King of Grapes, never perfect, but always making the wine lover dream of this ultimate perfection... a wine with a soul, to share among civilised people...

- GRENACHE BLANC 2005 and 2007 PIEKENIERSKLOOF  - Our signature white... Vive La Difference at its best... This barrel fermented wine is by far the best grenache blanc produced in South Africa, because it is the only one! 4 stars and a half stars in Platters, selected by Tom Stevenson among the top unusual discoveries of the world, on the shelf of Waitrose in the UK, this wine is unique. Bold, fresh, nutty, complex, perfect with fish and poultry but as well pastas and spicy Asian food. Able to match top Chateauneuf du Pape blanc, wines from Cassis or some whites Priorat or Roussillon, this is an invitation to explore... The 2003 is reaching full maturity and the 2004 is drinking beautifully, developing butter, cream, hazelnuts and marzipan flavours... Grenache Blanc can keep and will satisfy the wine lover looking for complexity... this is not a tutti fruity simple wine, you can decant it to drink it at its best... because it is the best, remember?

- ROSE DE SAIGNEE 2006 CONSTANTIA BLANC DE NOIR (sold out) - Based on our cabernet franc bleeding of the tank, a wine for the friends, uncomplicated, perfect for the braai (BBQ or Barbecue in South Africa) where too many are still drinking lager beers... (really a lack of class... at least if you drink beer, drink decent Belgian beers!). 20% wood to round it, aged on the lees as a white wine for more complexity and depth... Keep in mind SIGNAL HILL is a classic winery, so we do not compete for the most fruity wine, but for the best wine you can enjoy with your meal!!! No social drinking, only responsible sensual pleasure with our meal... Jean Vincent Ridon was one of the first to produce dry rosé in South Africa, since 1998... back then only 3 producers were touching this "sissy wine"... More than 80 producers are now giving DRY rosé wines the position it deserves: on the table in summer! To drink now, but like a good Tavel or Bandol, it will gain spiciness with age, do not be scared to store a couple of bottles, you might have a great surprise in 10 years... "I recently had a 1973 Gigondas rosé ( a very bad vintage...) and this was a good surprise" our cellarmaster and delivery boy claims. (Sold out)

- L'EMPEREUR ROUGE - SWEET NATURAL WINE - UNCERTIFIED - ACTUALLY CABERNET SAUVIGNON FROM PAARL - Once again the South African Wine and Spirit Board displayed its almighty capacities (the same capacity that make them believe that South Africa is a natural producer of grassy sauvignon blanc) in rejecting a wine that has received awards everywhere else ( 4 stars and a half in Platters, twice!). They must be forgiven, as most of the panel members are beer and brandy drinkers; and not necessarily Belgian beers... Overripe sun-drenched cabernet sauvignon from Paarl, as a late harvest... fermented on the skins for 10 days, then pressed and finished in barrels. 85 grams of residual sugar, and the freshness of the Cabernet Sauvignon... a very interesting wine that will offer you a unique experience, even if some journalists compare it with old style Vintage Ports... a good compliment if you think of a 63' Noval or a 77' taylor's... Mostly dedicated to cheese and chocolate desserts, it can be a nice support for a Bobotie or a Peking style duck. To keep... as long as you want. Bottles of 375ml, so you can open 3 of them when 2 normal bottles is too much.

- VIN DE L'EMPEREUR NV SOLERA CONSTANTIA - MUSCAT D'ALEXANDRIE NATURAL SWEET WINE - One new legend of the Cape, produced since 1998. This interpretation of the old Constance wines is made with muscat d'Alexandrie, because our historic team thinks this is the grape that was used to keep the Emperor Napoleon happy when exiled to St Helena. Because Muscat d'Alexandrie is a table grape as well, used in many traditional Cape recipes, it made sense that the far located colony had been favouring the cultivation of multiple use grapes...  but beside our belief that the traditional white Constance sweet wines were based on Hanepoot (local name of muscat d'alexandrie, meaning pot of honey), this grape is the spiciest and most aromatically complex grape of the creation, dubbed as "The Mother of Grapes" because we find its key DNA chain in all the vitis vinifera grapes, red or white. This sweet wine, unfortified, with about 119g/L of residual sugar for 13,5% alcohol has a perfect refreshing balance, offering honey, pineapple, tangerine nose, with a very long finish to handle desserts, cheeses and even hot curries. Made as a blend of different vintages, following the classic SOLERA aging process, this Vin de L'Empereur is displaying perfect balance and maturity to be enjoyed, or matured in a dark cellar.  A classic from SIGNAL HILL winery. 4 Stars and a Half for Platter's 2013

- STRAW WINE 2001 - Unidentified grapes from a very old mixed block on Simonsberg, dating back to the time when grapes where coplanted to reduce the spread of pests and diseases. These hand harvested grapes have been dried in a cool shade on a bed of organic straw, as per the traditional recipes used in the Jura, or in the Hermitage on the Rhone... Extremely sweet, with 278 g/l of residual sugar, the complex spiciness makes this wine unique. Dark colour, fruit of a long fermentation of 24 months in oak, from natural yeast, it reveals honey, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmegs, but as well papaya, pomagranate, and quince multi layered fruit... 91 in Wine Spectator, and Grand Gold at Michelangelo, a magic wine that will complement even the most demanding dessert... iron fist in a velvet, sorry, silk glove.

Soon to be released: 1771, The Heritage wine