Pieter Walser started Blank Bottle in Somerset West, South Africa, around 15 years ago. The way he looks and talks about wines is special, he tells stories and wants people to approach wine without prejudice. The story that follows him everywhere is when he started, a woman approached him for some wine, "anything but Syrah". Obviously Pieter being Pieter gave her some unlabeled Syrah, she loved it, She filled her car with the bottles and left happy.
Pieter and Butlers Wine Cellar have a great relationship, Pieter has been making some limited run releases with labels designed especially for Henry & Cassie for the past 2 years now. Most of Pieters wines are a one off, sometimes because he only gets the option to buy the fruit once, sometimes because the vines are getting ripped up.
All of the Labels are designed by Pieter himself or sometimes friends and family.
The Stories are all Pieters.
It Is What It Is 2016
Whos that bloke on the label? Its Henry Butler of course! The label inspired by an Instagram post of Henry holding a machine gun with nail varnish on. We had to get the gun removed so Pieter flipped the image on itself, still displaying the pink nails.
This is the result of our first project with Pieter Walser, it is a wine unique to us with our own label. This was the first of our own label and bottlings with Pieter.
This is a combination of three different grape varieties. Tempranillo from Stellenbosch, Nebbiolo from Goudini, Breede River and Carignan from Tulbach, I know, a combination much used nowhere.
The wine is made as naturally as possible, adding the least amount of sulphur possible, and is aged in old oak for 18 months.
The owner of the Tempranillo vineyard, doesn't appear to need to earn from it, and on the spur of the moment decided to rip it all up. This was the first time anyone has experimented with Tempranillo in the blend from this area, and it now cannot happen again hence 'It is what it is’
Soft, light cream, dark berry fruit, soft tannins. A wonderful wine.
This wine was created for Henry and Cassie. The gothic figure dominates the label, this was made with Cassie in mind. This was also the first time Pieter made a wine that was 100% Pinotage. Pieter found a small parcel of Pinotage vines from his local farmer friend but found that Pinotage is the first red grape to ripen. Unfortunately, its early sweetness attract birds from the mountain and they feast on the grapes. In the past, the farmer had therefore been forced to pick the 37-year old vineyard early, with low sugar, before the birds came. That meant that the grapes were not ripe yet and could only be used for the making of rosé. To prevent the bird-fest, Pieter then purchased some bird nets and the farmer covered the little bush vines with it - it worked.
This is 100% Pinotage, aged in oak for a year. This wine will convert you to Pinotage, it is so drinkable. It is packed full of vibrant berry fruits, it is velvety smooth, with a long, fine finish.
Wolf Alaser 2017
Wine that’s aged in barrel constantly loses a little bit of volume due to the wood absorbing wine as well as evaporation. We call this the “The Angel’s Share”. In order to prevent the barrel from having a huge headspace and subsequently getting exposure to oxygen, Pieter constantly needs to fill the barrels. Every month he selects a topping barrel. Pieter then fill all barrels with the selected topping barrel’s wine, often not using the whole barrel. The leftover wine then goes back into a tank. So as you can see, this barrel has a life of its own and in 2017 this topping barrel was accidentally filled with wine of outstanding quality, unfortunately for Pieter he had no idea what was in the barrel at the time. It was this wine!!! 100% Syrah.
Pieter decided to bottle it as a one-off cuvée of Syrah made with minimal intervention in very small amounts. Only 280 bottles were made and we have a lot of them.
The label was designed by his son, who created Wolf Alaser as his graffiti tag. He was inspired by the artist Banksy. The label features his pet rabbit and he earns pocket money from every bottle sold.
This is a superb wine, bright ripe red fruits, clean and fresh, moorish and delicious!
Helter Skelter NV (2018/17)
This white wine has carried on the West Pier theme on it's label. It is called Helter Skelter, and has been bottled to celebrate 40 years of the Butlers Wine Cellar. As well as a nod to the iconic seafront ride Helter Skelter, it refers to the sometimes chaotic, topsy turvy, but never boring life at Butlers.
Technically a NV due to him harvesting early in 2017 and late in 2018, he did this to change the normal style for South African Viognier and create a balanced wine. Viognier is usually over extracted, rich and often sweet. The first half was picked early with high acidity and low sugar, then the second half was picked at a normal harvest date. Then aged in small french barrels separately 2017 for 1 year and 2018 for 2 years. It's a lot of technical information to get your head around but the wine tastes great.
We love this wine, it has some of the peachy characteristics you might expect from this grape variety, but it also has texture, and elegance, with some fresh acidity running through it. It isn't as super rich as you might expect, it is more refined than that, a great drinker. Low sulphur.
Old bush vine Chenin Blanc from a single vineyard, the fruit comes from a farmer in the Swartland on the border of Darling. The farmer seemed very traditional to Pieter, he lived in the middle of nowhere. Then a few years ago Pieter was sat in his kitchen having a cup of tea when the farmer started telling Pieter about him and his wife going in to Cape Town to go to all night raves. This was his outlet, his way of blowing off steam. This really hit Pieter and he says "In our modern day lives, stress is a reality and so many friends of mine struggle to get an outlet. And here we have a farmer, a traditional guy in the middle of nowhere with a passion/an outlet - his way of coping with life."
Rounded fruit with lots of tropical and stoned fruits, great acidity helps keep this wine fresh, it's also very food friendly due to the lovely texture.
By November 2015, I had mostly made up my mind about my new wines destined for bottling in January 2016 - a process that takes months to complete. At that stage I had 21 white wine components sitting in barrel that was ready for bottling - some as single varietal wines and some in blends. It all changed when I met a guy on a plane called Mark Drummond.
One thing led to another and ultimately to the wine called Limbic and Orbitofrontal Cortex. In short we made a blend by tapping into my subconscious reactions to the various white wine components I had in the cellar at the time. To counter that wine, we also made the best blend according to my conscious mind.
Now these wines obviously messed up my planning for the January 2016 bottling completely - taking out some of the vital components of other planned wines. This gave birth to an OFFSPRING, the child of Dad Orbitofrontal Cortex and Mom Limbic (not the leftovers all thrown together - if I feel that a component doesn’t quite measure up, it gets demoted to a leftover tank which I sell as bulk wine). This OFFSPRING was thoughtfully blended - Sémillon from Elgin, Chenin blanc from Wellington and Verdelho from the Voor Paardeberg.
All the components were made separately. As the grapes came into the winery, it was pressed and the juice went straight to tank. It received no additions and from there went straight to older french oak barrels, underwent spontaneous fermentation, stayed in barrel for one year, received a small amount of sulphur, got blended and finally bottled. This unplanned wine scored 94 points out of 100 in the recent Tim Atkin report on South African wine. So the wine turned out really nicely.
Discounted Price 10% off - £128.25