2019 City on a Hill Red Blend



André Bruyns started his career as the assistant winemaker to wine-making guru Eben Sadie. There, he participated in a significant number of micro-lot old vine bottlings. The idea being that André and Eben would hunt down old vineyards, many of them planted with grape varieties that are now extinct to the rest of the world, and vinify them into wine. The exciting and dramatic wines of Kokerboom, Palladius, and Columella were some of the results.

I love those wines and think they were a defining moment for Andre and Eben – showing the world just how these old parcels of vines could create magnificent wine. With that as my reflection point, I was seriously excited when I learned that Andre had “graduated” from Sadie and was now making his own wines under the label City on a Hill. This is my first encounter with his wines, and I find it ambitious, focused, linear, and darn delicious.

The City on a Hill Red Blend comes from a single vineyard planted to Syrah, Tinta Barocca and Cinsault, all on granite soils. The farming is biodynamic, and the wines are fermented in old oak and bottled unfiltered. The result is a wine of gravelly red fruits on the nose with savory notes of dried herbs and red aromatics. On the palate the wine is linear, but not lean, with a beautiful vibrancy throughout that comes across as seamless from front to back.

It is a “quite” wine, quite in the sense that it’s not flashy, so served around the table it marries seamlessly with food. But, if studied carefully on its own, it also yields up much intellectual pleasure. The finish is long and lean, but not tersely acidic, leading me to believe that this wine is just at the beginning of a long and glorious journey.

This project of Andre’s is ambitious, and I am excited to be in on some of his first vintages. You should be, too.