Friday, 17 of January of 2020

The Infidel 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – FNB Top 10 Winner

Hermit on the Hill The Infidel 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Over the past year, quite a bit has been written about the Hermit on the Hill The Infidel 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.  Jamie Goode ( gave it 93 points and described it as “A brilliant South African Sauvignon.”  In Platter 2014 it was given 4.5 stars by Christian Eedes (, and Miguel Chan gave it 92 points, and described it as:  ”… broad ripe textured with moderate acidity, fresh and crunchy, juicy, spicy white pepper, hints of honeyed nutty mid palate, quite full bodied with moderate plus alcohol of 13.5% abv, long length, perfect now yet will gain further complexity in bottle over the next 5 years, up to 2019+. Must try.”

While we vowed not to enter our wines for competitions, we had little choice when the svengali of South African Sauvignon stated in December 2013:  ”Is this SA’s first “Sauvignon Blanc” – a deeply superficial wine best drunk sighted?” referring to the fact that the above judges had scored the wine sighted, and implying that the judges had either been inappropriately coached, or that there were “commercial relations” between myself and some of the judges, leading them to give the wine a higher score than it deserved. We decided to let these libellous insults pass, and rather entered the wine for two blind tasting opportunities.

In the Classic Wine magazine of January 2014’s blind tasting, the wine received a 4-star rating  and placed in the Top 34 wines out of 192 wines tasted (declaration:  I was a judge on the competition, but my score for the wine would not have made a difference to the rating).

Most recently it was announced that The Infidel 2012 made it into the FNB Top 10 out of 199 entries.  See here for more information on the competition, as well as the full results.

Some facts about the wine:

Total production – 3 029 bottles
Wine of Origin – Stellenbosch
Alcohol – 13.72%
Residual Sugar – 1.9 g/l

Recommended Retail Price:  R120 per bottle

Label Design:  Konrad Rode @ Rodegraphics

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Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2011

Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2011


The White Knight 2011 pays tribute to Sir Lancelot, the bravest of all the knights in King Arthur’s court. While medieval writers concur that Lancelot was a noble and loyal servant to his king, he also had an adulterous affair with King Arthur’s wife, Guinevere. In much the same way, this wine is pure in thought and deed, but does stray from the path slightly due to the main component, Sauvignon Blanc, having an affair with a bit of Semillon. While Sir Lancelot formed part of the grail quest, his veering from the straight-and-narrow path ultimately only allowed him a glimpse of the holy grail, but it did cure his madness. When Lancelot returns to Camelot, he finds that Guinevere had joined a nunnery to atone for her deeds, and Lancelot retires to a hermitage to live out the rest of his life in penitence for his sins of being an adulterer, and becoming a man minded of earthly honours.

Would the White Knight have been a better servant to his king if he did not have an affair with Guinevere?

Would this Sauvignon Blanc have been better if it did not have a fling with a bit of Semillon?

You be the ultimate judge, while we continue on our crusade to find our own holy grail.


A full and fruit-driven white blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon that lingers on the palate.

Wine of Origin: Coastal Region
Origin of Grapes: Darling
Blend: 90% Sauvignon Blanc / 10% Semillon
Alcohol: 13.89% (14% on label)
Total production: 2 500 bottles
Price: R65 per bottle

Background and Description:

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked mid-February 2011 and transported to the Hidden Valley Winery in Stellenbosch, where the bunches were crushed and destalked. The juice was pumped into a stainless steel tank and allowed to settle. After 24 hours the juice was racked to another tank, all the while taking precaution that the juice did not come into contact with oxygen, so as to ensure that the juice remained fresh. The Sauvignon Blanc juice was innoculated with yeast and fermentation allowed to take place at a cool temperature. The Semillon component was naturally fermented in a third-fill oak barrel. After fermentation both the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon were kept on its lees for six months, and the lees stirred regularly to ensure that the wine has a rounded texture and mouthfeel. The two components were blended, filtered, cold stabilised and bottled in September 2011.

Description of the wine: The 2011 White Knight is a dry, yet full-bodied white wine packed with an abundance of fruit on the nose, including peach, citrus, gooseberry and nectarine. On the palate the wine has complex layers of flavour, with a crisp and lengthy finish.

Food pairing: Ideal drinking on its own, but also great with summer salads, fresh black figs, runny cheeses like Camembert & Brie, and lighter styled dishes such as seafood and pasta.

Maturation potential: Drinking well now but will reward another year or two of cellaring (ideal drinking from 2012 to 2014).

The Infidel 2010 …

Hermit on the Hill The Infidel Medium

As Secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG) it has been part of my job over the last few years to put together technical seminars for winemakers.  At these seminars we have fantastic speakers (including international presenters) extolling the virtues of reductive winemaking, the role of methoxypyrazine and thiols in the aroma and taste of Sauvignon Blanc, the protection of CO2 when transferrring wine, and many more fascinating subjects that will have all of you sitting on the edge of your seats!

What would happen, I asked myself, if one were to break all the rules and guidelines advocated at these technical seminars (I do have quite a rebellious streak in me!)  If you were to take in the grapes and not put them through the crusher, but rather just put them in barrels with the lids taken off?  Then just lightly break the grapes, but leaving the stems and skins with the grapes in the barrel, allowing the juice to interact freely with oxygen before fermentation and then not adding any commercial yeast, but letting nature take its course and allowing spontaneous fermentation.

Well, it all sounds very risky, and it is, but the final result of this experiment is now available and have received some lovely write-ups from people like Jamie Goode (  Order it direct or contact your nearest wine retailer to order it for you.

Total production of 3 000 bottles and a low alcohol of 12.37% – perfect for summer quaffing and partnering with oysters, seafood and salads.

Another New Arrival … The Sauvignier 2009

Soon to be released, Hermit on the Hill The Sauvignier 2009 is an equal blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.  Bottled under screwcap, and to retail for about R50 a bottle, this will hopefully become a summer quaffer (although, with only 3 000 bottles available, it probably won’t last too long).  Harry Haddon had the following to say after tasting the wine earlier this week:

“The nose was like a floral apricot boiled sweet. In the mouth the wine is whisked along by the zippy Sauvignon which tempers the Viognier, not allowing it to dominate.  … Scrumptious. It made me think of pig-tails: bouncy, carefree, and not bovvered”

Hermit on the Hill The Sauvignier 2009 medium

Hermit on the Hill welcomes The White Knight 2009


The White Knight 2009 is the first white wine from the Hermit on the Hill stable.  It is a wine for people who are bad at arithmetic, with two thirds of the blend Sauvignon Blanc, one third Semillon and the rest Muscat Blanc … OK, the Muscat Blanc is just a dash, about 4%, but it definitely does make a difference.

The wine is crisp and fresh with a full mouthfeel and long finish.  A portion of the Sauvignon Blanc was naturally fermented on the stalks in old oak barrels, definitely not your standard way of treating this fickle grape variety.

We are very proud of this wine and the only negative comment we have had so far is that we should have bottled it in magnums as the wine just disappears too fast from a normal 750ml bottle!

We have had some good reviews, including Cathy Marston including it in her list of Top 10 Unusual Wines under R100 and listings include Wine Concepts Newlands and Kloof Street, Vino Pronto, Caroline’s Waterfront, Societi Bistro and the newly launched Café Nood in Claremont.

Lynne and John Ford of Main Ingredient also listed it as one of their “lesser known vinous gems” in the Sunday Times.

Total production of only 200 cases (x 12) so it’s not going to be around for long … get your order in asap.

Hermit on the Hill the White Knight 2009

Cathy Marston describes The Hermit on the Hill The White Knight 2009 as:  “Spicy and lively with a really fun label, this is as off-the-wall as you can get.”  Who are we to disagree …

Hermit on the Hill

Southern Sauvignon Stars meet Northern Lights

As secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG) I recently had the opportunity to go on a European fling to promote the excellence of South African Sauvignon Blanc.  Check out the story here:

Southern Sauvignon Stars Meet Northern Lights

Durbanville Boutique Wine Association hosts Reds, Whites & Blues

Reds, White & Blues 640 x 350

For more information, visit