Thorne & Daughters was started in 2013 by John and Tasha Seccombe with the aim of producing authentic wines from the Western Cape. It is widely acknowledged to be one of the forerunners of the ‘New Wave’ wine movement in South Africa. Thorne & Daughters is mainly focused on producing Cape white blends, from 15 different growers in Bot River, Stellenbosch, Voor Paardeberg, Swartland, Citrusdal, Franschhoek and Overberg. Fruit sourcing has relied on a network of close winemaking friends and knocking on doors to gather the various parcels with which they work. John and Tasha did not want to be limited geographically, so the net was cast wide and has been driven by “a happy synergy of people, place, soil and vines”.
The grapes for the Rocking Horse were sourced from a number of very carefully selected growers around the Western Cape. The Roussane and the Chardonnay come from younger vines, with an average age of 13 years planted in Stellenbosch and Paardeberg on a combination of clay and decomposed granite. Semillon Blanc from Franschhoek, Clairette Blanche from Stellenbosch and Chenin Blanc from Paardeberg add depth and textural complexity to this blended Cape white as they are sourced from old vines estimated to be approximately 40 years old.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed in an old Vaslin press, which ensures an oxidative pressing, with no treatments or additions. The juice was then racked off the heavy solids and transferred to old French oak barrels ranging in size from 225 litres to 600 litres. Fermentation occurred naturally in barrel and the wines were then allowed to undergo spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Sulphur dioxide was first added in August following the vintage when the wines had time to settle. The Rocking Horse spent 10 months on its fine lees after fermentation, prior to blending and bottling.
The 2019 vintage, like 2018, was characterised by warm and dry conditions with the Cape drought still very much in force. The challenge was to pick the grapes early enough to retain good levels of natural acidity combined with sufficient fruit ripeness. John and Tasha monitored the ripeness levels of the grapes assiduously in the run up to harvest to ensure that they were picked at the perfect moment. Picking for the grapes for the ‘Rocking Horse’ began on 23rd January with the Paardeberg Chenin Blanc and finished on 12th February with the Roussanne from Stellenbosch.