Ben Snyman has a curious mind. When this Overhex winemaker tells me of his overseas travels in search of winemaking enlightenment, his passion and commitment is clear, hallmarks of a good winemaker. Then some Chenin Blanc is poured, Ben smoothly changes gears and the story behind the Survivor wine range unfolds …
The inspiration behind the Survivor wine range is based on the robust Nguni breed of cattle, believed to be brought into South Africa by the Khoisan. Their resilience and economic importance notwithstanding, breeding with Nguni bulls became illegal in the late 1800s and extinction once again faced the breed after the harsh climate and diseases first did its best. All this bull, however, was set aside after the 1940s when government established herds for research purposes and the Nguni Cattle Breeders’ Association was established.
Back to the present. Survivor, the Nguni cow that jumped off a moving truck into a Swartland vineyard, did her name justice. She thrived in her new home and inspired a hugely popular and successful brand. And it’s here in the same Swartland vineyard she found her new home, that the grapes for these wines are sourced from. Today Survivor and her offspring still happily roam freely on this land, inspiring yet another innovation, Offspring, a brand comprising two young, fruit-driven blends.
The Survivor range currently comprises six wines, the 2015 Survivor Pinotage, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2016 Chenin Blanc, the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the newly released 2016 Chardonnay and Brut MCC.
The 2016 Survivor Wild Fermented Chardonnay is barrel-fermented and offers oatmeal and lime on the nose, with layers of citrus on the palate and sublime oak integration. The grapes were sourced from a selection of low-yielding (6-7 t/ha) vineyard Chardonnay where the soils are deep red Oakleaf and Hutton. The grapes for the Survivor Méthode Cap Classique Brut 2011 were sourced from low yielding blocks with chalky soils. The wine is rich, complex and show toastiness, citrus, herbs and apple complexity.
With the “survival of the fittest” theme ever in vogue, the Survivor brand surely has the advantage, don’t you think?