South African wines have a rich history that dates back to the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company established a trading post in Cape Town. Wine production started as a way to provide refreshments for the sailors on their long voyages, but it quickly became a thriving industry.
Over the years, South African wines have gained a reputation for being of exceptional quality and Capensis wines, produced by the Jackson family, are no exception.
Capensis, meaning “from the Cape,” is a leader in bringing South Africa to the forefront as a world-class Chardonnay producer. The commitment to Chardonnay comes from the belief that the truly great vineyard sites around the world are revealed by only a few noble grape varieties.
The Jackson family has been involved in winemaking for over four decades. They started in the wine industry in the early 1970s when Barbara Banke and her late husband, Jess Jackson, purchased a vineyard in Lake County, California. Jess Jackson was a lawyer who developed a love for wine while working as a land-use attorney in San Francisco. He soon realized that he wanted to spend his life working in the wine industry, and he and Barbara Banke embarked on a journey that would lead them to become one of the most successful wine families in the world.
In 1983, the Jackson family founded Kendall-Jackson, which became one of the largest and most respected wineries in California. The Jacksons were passionate about producing high-quality wines, and they invested heavily in research and development to ensure that their wines were among the best in the world. They were also committed to sustainability and innovation, and they implemented several ground-breaking initiatives in their vineyards and wineries that helped to reduce their environmental impact.
In the early 2000s, the Jackson family decided to expand their winemaking operations to South Africa. They saw the potential for producing exceptional wines in the country, which had a long history of winemaking but was relatively undiscovered on the global stage. They purchased a vineyard in the Western Cape and started producing Capensis wines.
South Africa’s Western Cape can be called both the oldest wine region of the New World and the newest wine region of the Old World. Capensis skilfully combines these two facets — the oldest and the newest — of Western Cape winemaking. It embodies the unparalleled quality that comes from old, gnarled vines planted in some of the oldest soils in the world, and it represents the young energy of a new generation of winemakers determined to make world-class wines with state-of-the-art techniques.
The Jackson family’s approach to winemaking is rooted in a deep respect for the land and a commitment to sustainability. They use environmentally friendly farming practices and minimize their use of pesticides and other chemicals. They also use renewable energy sources in their vineyards and wineries, and they have implemented several initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
Winemaker, Graham Weerts is a Cape Town native, where he spent his childhood and the early part of his winemaking career. It was almost inevitable that Graham would pursue winemaking. It’s a career that draws upon his agricultural heritage and his love of the outdoors, while also offering creative outlets and an intellectual challenge. To him, no other product that humans make offers the complexities and artistic value of wine. It unites people of all cultures. As Graham likes to say, “few wars were started over a great bottle of wine.”
Graham began his career working harvests in South Africa, later moving from the vineyards into the winery as a cellar hand. His stint as a cellar rat secured him the post of assistant winemaker at Mulderbosch Vineyards, where he assisted with the production of their iconic Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Graham then spent a season working for Chateau de Terrefort-Quancard in Bordeaux. In that time, he earned his degree in viticulture, wine science and pomology from the Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch in 1996.
In 1999, Graham found himself in California’s Sonoma County, working harvest at Vérité. After that season, he returned to South Africa where he worked as a winemaker for a few smaller wineries before joining Bellingham Winery. By 2004, he made his way back to California and worked as winemaker for Stonestreet in Alexander Valley through 2014. In addition to making Capensis, Graham oversees vineyard operations for Jackson Family Wines.
Capensis represents a return to Graham’s South African roots.
Capensis wines have gained a reputation for being among the best Chardonnays in the world. They have won numerous awards and accolades including
- 2015 Capensis Fijnbosch Chardonnay – 95 points Tim Atkin MW
- 2017 Capensis Chardonnay – 94 points Tim Atkin MW
- 2017 Capensis Silene – 96 points, Cathy van Zyl, Platter by Diners Club International 2020 South African Wine Guide
- 2018 Capensis Chardonnay – Top 100 Wines of 2020, James Suckling
- 2019 Capensis Chardonnay – 95 points Tim Atkin MW
- 2019 Capensis ‘Silene’ Chardonnay– 93 points Tim Atkin MW
While it is often compared to Grand cru Chablis, Capensis Chardonnay offers a unique and exceptional expression of the Chardonnay grape that sets it apart from other Chardonnays on the market.
One of the key differences between Capensis Chardonnay and Chablis is the use of oak in the winemaking process. Chablis Chardonnays are typically made with minimal oak aging to allow the pure expression of the grape and terroir to shine through. In contrast, Capensis Chardonnay is aged in a combination of new and older French oak barrels, which can add complexity and richness to the wine. This results in a wine that is both elegant and complex, with layers of flavour and aroma that unfold with each sip.
Another key difference between the two wines is their aging potential. While Chablis Chardonnays are known for their ability to age gracefully for many years, Capensis Chardonnay is designed to be enjoyed in its youth. This is due in part to the winemaking techniques used by the Jackson family, who aim to capture the fresh fruit flavours and vibrant acidity of the grapes at their peak. As a result, Capensis Chardonnay offers a delicious and enjoyable experience that can be savoured right away, without the need for extended aging.
When it comes to flavour and aroma, Capensis Chardonnay offers a unique profile that is sure to please even the most discerning wine lover. The wine is characterized by its bright acidity and refreshing minerality, which are complemented by notes of citrus, stone fruit, and vanilla. The use of oak in the aging process adds a subtle hint of spice and complexity, while the natural flavours and aromas of the Chardonnay grapes are allowed to shine through.
In addition to its exceptional quality and flavour profile, Capensis Chardonnay also offers excellent value for money. While it is a premium wine, it is priced more affordably than many other Chardonnays on the market, making it an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy a high-quality wine without breaking the bank.
Overall, Capensis Chardonnay offers a unique and exceptional expression of the Chardonnay grape that sets it apart from other Chardonnays on the market. With its elegant and complex flavour profile, refreshing acidity, and excellent value for money, it is the perfect choice for anyone looking to experience the best that Chardonnay has to offer. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a delicious meal, Capensis Chardonnay is sure to delight the senses and leave a lasting impression.
Capensis wines and the Jackson family play an important role in the history of South African wines. The family’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, and excellence has helped to elevate South African wines to the global stage, and their Capensis wines are a testament to their dedication to producing wines of exceptional quality. With their passion for winemaking and their deep respect for the land, the Jackson family has become a true icon of the wine industry, and their legacy will continue to inspire future generations of winemakers in South Africa and around the world.