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Thorne & Daughters


‘Tin Soldier’

Sémillon   |   Swartland - South Africa


If one goes back 100 years, the reality is that Sémillon was responsible for probably 95% of the wine made in South Africa. Research suggests that the red mutation may at one time have been even more common than the white. John is extremely fascinated by the idea of the kind of wines that would have been made in the old days using these mixed vineyards, and this led him to the idea of fermenting the grapes on their skins for a few days. The block has been established from a sélection massale of Sémillon Gris cuttings from the Kweperfontein block, planted in 1964. ‘Tin Soldier’, like all of Thorne & Daughters’ wines take its name from children’s’ toys and this references Sémillon’s status as the old foot soldier of the South African industry.

The fruit is handpicked and destemmed, 60% gently pressed directly to barrel and the remainder fermented on skins with gentle foot stomping to break up some of the skins. Fermentation occurs naturally. After three days the skin fermented portion is pressed off using only the free run juice and blended with the barrel fermenting portion. The extraction is managed very carefully to retain a delicacy in the wine, while bringing out a lot of complexity. Following nine months in wood with regular topping and just a small amount of sulfur dioxide being added post ML, the wine is racked to tank to settle and bottled without fining or filtration.


  • Grapes: 100% Sémillon Gris
  • Vineyard: Waterval Vineyard (Upper Blocks) - cuttings from the Red Sémillon off of Kweperfontein - farmed by Franzika Wickens
  • Vine Age: 7-years-old
  • Soil Type: Decomposed granite intermixed with clay
  • Viticulture: Practicing Organic
  • Fermentation: Native – 60% whole-bunch pressed directly to barrel - 40% whole-bunch fermented in stainless-steel then pressed to barrel
  • Skin Contact: 3 days – whole-bunch fermented portion
  • Aging: 9 months in neutral French barrique
  • pH: 3.26
  • Total Acidity: 5.6 g/L
  • Total SO2: 50 ppm
  • Total Production: 100 cases

Tasting Note

The interplay between savoury and sweet is a key point of interest in Tin Soldier, and makes for a subtle and engaging wine. On the nose there is oyster shell, peach kernel and buttered toast. The palate is finely structured, with fresh acidity and full flavors of cape gooseberries, sesame seeds and Oolong tea. It is dry and delicate, while at the same time showing a core of richness and depth.

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