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Latest 2021 releases from Lismore Estate

Sam O'Keefe's 2021 vintage from Lismore Estate is now available for sale, offered pre-landing, arriving in the UK between now and spring 2023.  This is the first vintage to be made in her new winery (in fact, it was built around her and her team as the wines were made) so the news that this was an excellent harvest is very welcome!

In just a few years, Sam has progressed from a newcomer to the ranks of South Africa's top winemakers, to being one of its defining voices.  The background to this rise was twenty years of hard work, but the catalyst has been her response to the terrible fire which destroyed her winery, which we have written about elsewhere.  This is the third excellent vintage to be released since the fire, proving the spectacular success of her 2018s was no fluke.

Sam ruefully describes herself as becoming known as "that South African Viognier lady", having practically defined a new, savoury style with her Age of Grace and Reserve Viogniers.  Last year, she added mastery of Chenin Blanc to her achievements, with a 'cool' style of wine, made in small quantities and very hard to get hold of.  These will be drinking soon after they land and we have limited availability, so do take our advice and try them.  The 2021 Reserve Chardonnay offers a masterclass in complexity and power, but will benefit from a little time in bottle to reach its full potential. 

We also offer here the 2020 Syrah, a unique wine made after the December 2019 fire, with grapes donated by top producers in Constantia, Elgin, Stellenbosch and the Swartland. 

Read more about Sam's extraordinary journey to becoming one of South Africa's best winemakers in the profile below.

Offered in bond, landing in the UK between now and Spring 2023.


Lismore Estate, Greyton, SA

Producer Profile

Lismore Estate, Greyton, SA

Owner and Winemaker Samantha O'Keefe was a TV executive in LA and a single mother of two, with no winemaking experience.  She bought a remote mountain in South Africa in the early 2000s and planted a vineyard.  In 2019, Neal Martin tasted the wines and ranked them with the greatest in the world.  The story already read like a script for a TV drama, but then, just before Christmas 2019, we learnt that her home and winery had been destroyed in a devastating wildfire, which she and her staff narrowly escaped with their lives.   

'TV drama' comparisons do not do justice to what is likely to have been a traumatic experience for Sam.  A crowdfunding site was set up and other SA wineries lent barrels to make her 2020 vintage.  Happily, most of the vines have escaped damage and Sam's 2018 vintage was already in bottle, stored in cellars away from the winery.   

Self-taught as a winemaker, in a short space of time, Samantha created wines to vie with the very best in the world.  Neal Martin compares the Reserve Chardonnay to Corton-Charlemagne, whilst on Julia Harding MW describes the Hermitage-like Syrah as 'mouth-wateringly good'.   

For Martin these are among a new breed of wines "born in climactic knife-edge, dry-farmed vineyards, often from ancient vines, and with minimal intervention by talented and frequently young winemakers in the opening chapters of long careers."  

WHITE 2021 Lismore Estate - Age of Grace' Viognier 75cl £105 per case of 6 Lismore Estate
Age of Grace' Viognier
2021 / / 75cl
£105 per case of 6
Tasting Notes“The 2021 Viognier The Age of Grace comes from Sutherland and bot River, whole bunch pressed with 11 months on the lees using 15% concrete eggs. With pretty white peach and Mirabelle scents on the nose, this takes time to blossom but it never fully lets go. The palace is medium-bodied with a generous dried apricot, mango and spice-box entry, nothing blowsy here with a very focused, almost understated finish. Excellent. 2023-2036. 93+ points." Neal Martin, Vinous------"Sam O'Keefe gets the grapes for this stylish, commercially significant Viognier from Elgin and Bot River, rather than her home base in Greyton. Fermented in 5% new barrels and concrete eggs, it's a suitably graceful, subtle Viognier, with aniseed, pear and apricot skin flavours and tangy supporting acidity. 2022-2027. 92 points." Tim Atkin MW
WHITE 2021 Lismore Estate - Chenin Blanc 75cl £115 per case of 6 Lismore Estate
Chenin Blanc
2021 / / 75cl
£115 per case of 6
Tasting Notes“Sam O'Keefe was given the fruit from this Stanford vineyard in 2020 after the fire at Lismore but liked it so much that she's made it a permanent feature of her range. Fermented in 20% new oak, it's perfumed and stony, with jasmine aromas, some struck match reduction and a tangy, low alcohol finish. 2022-2027. 94 points." Tim Atkin MW------“The 2021 Chenin Blanc comes from fruit that Samanth O’Keefe brought in after the wildfire. It is whole bunch pressed, oxidatively handled and sees 15% new oak. Yellow plum, egg whites and a touch of candle wax unfurls on the nose, very well defined. The palate is well defined with a fine bead of acidity, an elegant “cool” Chenin with a sleep and focused finish. Wonderful. 2022-2036. 92 points." Neal Martin, Vinous
WHITE 2021 Lismore Estate - Reserve Chardonnay 75cl £190 per case of 6 Lismore Estate
Reserve Chardonnay
2021 / / 75cl
£190 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"The 2021 Chardonnay Estate Reserve is 100% from Greyton matured for 11 months in 500-litre barrels, 40% new. It has a wonderful bouquet with honeydew melon, apricot blossom and light crushed stone scents that percolate through with time. The palate is very well balanced with tropical hints of passion fruit and guava, but the acidity keeps everything on a tight course, very minerally on the finish. Top class. 94 points." Neal Martin, Aug '22
WHITE 2021 Lismore Estate - Reserve Syrah 75cl £280 per case of 6 Lismore Estate
Reserve Syrah
2021 / / 75cl
£280 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"The Reserve Syrah vines are dry-farmed, and planted in heavy, decomposed shale soils. One of the coolest climates in South Africa, with extreme diurnal temperature shifts, the climate in Greyton produces Syrah with a distinct sense of place, elegant but structured with fresh acidity. The Reserve Syrah was fermented with 50% whole bunches in a 5000-litre wooden fermenter, with gentle pigeage throughout, allowing for a long extraction period. The wine was left for a 30-day extended maceration on the skins and then pressed in a traditional basket press, before maturation in 500 litre French oak barrels for 10 months (35% new)." Producers notes. ""I'm very happy with 12% alcohol," says Samantha O'Keefe of the small quantities of this late-picked Syrah from Greyton's distinctly cool climate. Featuring 50% whole bunches, it's a taut, refreshing, intensely peppery, sage and oregano-scented style with cranberry and pomegranate fruit, spicy, savoury tannins, deftly handled 32% new wood and a pithy finish. Drink 2024-30. 95 points" Tim Atkin
WHITE 2021 Lismore Estate - Reserve Viognier 75cl £195 per case of 6 Lismore Estate
Reserve Viognier
2021 / / 75cl
£195 per case of 6
Tasting Notes“The 2021 Viognier Estate Reserve comes from vines on grey white shale (new plantings from 2016 were destroyed in the wildfire), so there is just 18-hectares that “soldiered on”. It has a backward nose with lime flower and light waxy scents. This feels very contained, then discrete menthol aromas surface. The palate is rounded in texture with dried apricot and touches of yellow plum; the 2021 is packed full of flavour with a slightly spiced, lemongrass-tinged finish. Superb. 2023-2042. 94 points." Neal Martin (Vinous)------“Made with fruit from vines that mercifully survived the fire of December 2019, this is a wine that will put a smile on the face of anyone who loves the Lismore style. Comfortably the best Viognier in South Africa, it has jasmine and honeysuckle aromas and a palate of quince, pear and tangerine. Subtle, ethereal stuff that ought to frighten a few producers in Condrieu. 2023-2028. 96 points." Tim Atkin MW

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