【Exclusive to Madison Wine】Blankbottle

BLANKbottle started 12 years ago with Walser buying wine from other winemakers, blending it and bottling it. Five years ago, he started buying grapes and making the wine himself.

He buys from 58 vineyards in the Western Cape, picking 28 varietals from 68 lots over a period of 100 days (Jan 7 – mid-April) and from this he will produce 30 wines with a total production of 55,000 bottles. The largest output being Moment of Silence (4,000 bottles) and the smallest output being Im Hinterhofkabuff (400 bottles).

The blend changes every year so that none of his wines ever tastes the same. Half of the wines will not make a re-appearance.

“I appeal to the adventurous wine drinker and they buy my wines because they trust me – they give me money to take them on a journey.” —— Pieter Walser

                                   Photo from The Blankbottle Winery

Pieter Walser started his label BLANKbottle because he was “fed up of tasting wines with fancy labels and wanted to create a wine brand that you could judge only on quality, not looks.” 

Pieter produces wines that have no indication of the grape on the bottle, which not only demands complete honesty when it comes to quality, but it allows him the opportunity to introduce once-off limited runs of interesting wines. An honest brand that had no limitations when it came to style, vintage, area or cultivars. Something for someone with an open mind and an adventurous heart. 

“I experiment. If it is a new vineyard I make one barrel and see how it goes,”

Quite apart from the grapes, wine and name, each of Walser’s wines have different, distinctive-shaped bottles and a unique label all handmade with original artwork by Walser out of woodcuts, linocuts and painting.

As for the winemaking itself Walser likes to adopt a non-interventionist approach. The wines are made in old oak barrels and left on the lees with no sulphur or enzymes added. After the winter he adds a small bit of sulphur prior to bottling. “I want my wines to be as naturally made as possible and I like it when grapes challenge consumers, but having said that I don’t want the wine to taste like bacteria. I want the wine to taste great and I want people to taste the vineyard.”

Blankbottle Wines

Searching for L’Estrange 2019

100% Palomino

A whole-bunch, Amphora, bees-waxy Palomino. The cuttings were planted in 1965 on the mountain in Piekenierskloof, 550 meters above sea level. The 54-year old bush-vine vineyard, grown in African soil was made in African pots made from Limpopo clay coated by the beeswax.

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Epileptic Inspiration 2019

100% Semillon 
  • 1/3 Elgin Semillon that fermented and aged in French Oak for 1 & 1/2 years.
  • 1/3 Elgin Semillon that fermented and aged in 330 liter clay amphora.
  • 1/3 Baardseerdersbos Semillon, that fermented and aged in 330 liter clay amphora.

Pieter started having Epilepsy at the age of 30. Then in November 2013, whilst not on medication, he had another huge epileptic fit (the second one ever). So the Dr booked him off driving, surfing, and screens. And this is how he started to design his new labels for the 2013 wines. He could not look at the computer due to the flickering screen. So he started making use of scissors, paint, Lino, pencil and old paper. And the result:  He had a breakthrough in design.

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Orbitofrontal Cortex 2020

Verdelho from 2 different vineyards, Palomino, Weisser Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Chenin blanc from 3 different vineyards, Chardonnay and Viognier The idea behind this wine was (and still is) to select the white components in the winery we like most and to assemble a blend that represents that particular vintage in an honest and pure way. It is not bound to an area or varietal - it is an assembly of interesting things that differs from year to year according to whatever performed well that specific season.

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B-BOS 2020

50% Sauvignon Blanc – 50% Semillon blend.

A straight Cape L'Agulhas, southernmost tip of Africa Semillon... If you translate Baardskeerdersbos into English, it means “Beard-Shavers-Bush”, named after a famous spider that lives in these parts of the country.

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Retirement 2020

75% Cinsault – 25% Syrah 

The 5th vintage of Retirement@65, the 2020 A little higher in alcohol than the 12% 2019. Driven by perfume rather than fruit, fresh and drinkable. With the block of Cinsaut now 69 years of age it ironically comes to life at the age of Retirement… Added to the Cinsaut is a little dash of Shiraz from the same area.

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Pseudonym 2020

100% Cinsault

Pseudonym is made from a small 69-year old little vineyard. It grows in a little valley into the mountain in Darling. Seeing that it is the only food source around, the birds eat the grapes every year. The farmer could never use the valley for something else, so he kept the vineyard. When the grapes eventually ripened, there wouldn’t be much left to harvest. He would then pick the bits and throw it with the other grapes from the farm headed for the big co-operative winery. This was what had happened for 64 years. I asked him if we could cover the whole vineyard with bird nets, I bought the nets and he gave the labour. It was at the age of 65 when, for the first time, a wine was made exclusively from that little vineyard. I make two wines from it. Pseudonym which is 100% the Old vineyard Cinsaut.

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MyKoffer 2020

100% Cinsault

Single vineyard Cinsaut from the Breedekloof.

As we move along in this adventure called life, we're (hopefully) increasingly exposed to fine and fascinating wines. We forget quickly and the days of getting excited when opening a bottle of Tassenberg is long gone. So it was then, that in February 1994 I walked into Western Cape Liquor Store in Stellenbosch and bought my first bottle of TAS for R3.50. In the (student) years to follow, I partook in a lot of Tassenberg drinking (to put it mildly).

In 1997 I completed a month-long harvest stint in the (then) capital city of Tassenberg - Eersterivier Wine Cellar, Stellenbosch. We literally made hundreds of thousands of litres of Tassenberg. This is where the light went on for me and I finally identified the grape which produces my mysterious fresh strawberry component. It was Cinsaut! Ever since then I’d had the dream of producing a Cinsaut that tastes exactly the way I would like to remember TAS. The first straight Cinsaut I bottled was in 2007 - a Wellington Cinsaut as part of the Educational Range. The wine was good but not exactly the style I was after.

Not long thereafter, I received a tip-off from a well-respected winemaker friend about a little Cinsaut vineyard located in the lesser-known Breedekloof Valley. At that stage, the grapes went to a big cooperative winery where it basically disappeared into cheap red blends. So I took the plunge and bought some grapes.

Cinsaut is known as a varietal which produces lots of grapes per hectare. Besides the fact that Cinsaut has huge bunches, it also has massive berries. You therefore have much less skin-versus-juice contact and therefore end up with a lighter coloured (red) wine. I had the grapes ferment in small open-top French oak barrels and aged it in the same barrels for a year before being bottled.

Today, 7 vintages down the line, I’m  releasing the new Mykoffer 2018 - a straight Breedekloof Cinsaut - with cherries and strawberries, it has a feminine elegance to it with a surprisingly intense personality - So with all the emotions connected to a first love, I present “My TASSENBERG”, “My TAS" - BLANKbottle Mykoffer 2018 - a suitcase full of memories.

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