HAVE I TURNED A PERSONAL (WINE) CORNER?

In my over five decades of tasting and drinking wine, my wine pleasures have changed.  given me enjoyment.

I started my wine journey as a white wine only person, evolved to a white or red wine drinker and then to being a red only drinker. None of these evolvements were intellectually driven, my preferences have changed of their own accord over time.

In recent years, I have happily tasted across the wine spectrum. But, if asked, I call myself a red wine drinker and add that I don’t drink white wine….

At the recently held Cape Wine 2018, I briefly discussed this with Chris Mullineux. I said that in grammatical terms I found white wine a full stop, whereas for me reds were a comma.

“Maybe you find whites aggressive?” he offered. Eureka! Until I find a better descriptor, aggressive is it.

Having said that, I was delighted to taste three ‘non-aggressive’ wines at this year’s Cape Wine: Andrea Mullineux’s Mullineux Old Vines White, Adi Badenhorst’s AA Badenhorst White and Abrie Bruwer’s Springfield Estate Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc. They definitely had non-aggressive in common, but were very individual wines, worthy of a glass or two rather than merely a taste.

 

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As the names suggests, the Mullineux Old Vines White has old vines (Chenin) at its core, with small parcels of Mediterranean varieties. I love the detail in Andrea’s wines, and the Old Vine White was no exception.

 

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Before I first tasted AA Badenhorst White, I was gobsmacked to find that it was a blend of 10 varietals: Chenin Blanc, Rousanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Gris, Clairette Blanche, Semillon and Palomino. It really is a tremendous wine and the sum of its many parts make for a delicious whole.

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From the moment Abrie asked me if I had as a child picked up a stone on the beach and licked it, I’ve loved drinking Springfield Life from Stone and its gorgeous flintiness in particular.

Have I turned that corner? Not yet, but at least I have the above three wines populating my ‘happy to drink anytime I can’ list!

The search continues…

 

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A HAPPY RETURN TO IDIOM

Two years ago I attended the opening of Idiom’s impressive tasting room and restaurant, on the outskirts of Somerset West, near Sir Lowry’s Pass. It was a lovely introduction to the Bottega Family and to their wines.

So I happily accepted a recent invitation for a return visit.

The Idiom building affords an unforgettably breath-taking view and I found seeing the view for a second time as impressive as the first.

I enjoyed tasting across the Idiom range and three of their wines in particular tickled my fancy: the Idiom Viognier, Idiom Barbera and their Imperium White Gold Viognier.

As I get to taste more and more viognier, I am really getting to appreciate the grape.

 

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The Idiom Viognier 2015 (much was lovely, with stone fruit and a hint of something spice on the nose and very smooth on the palate. I would have happily converted the taste to a glass or two.

 

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I really enjoy Italian varietals, so I was tempted to try the Idiom Barbera 2013 before tasting their whites…but I didn’t. The nose offers dark stone fruit and an almost fruit-cakey palate. A really delicious wine, particularly for those wanting something a little out of the ordinary.

 

 

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The Idiom Imperium White Gold Viognier was quite a surprise, it is a dessert wine that I would happily drink before or after a meal. Aromatic and delicious. I think they only produce a limited quantity of it, worth the drive there to get some!

Idiom also have two dining options, contemporary dining in their restaurant and authentic pizzas in their pizzeria.

It is well worth a visit.

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SOMETHING NEW AND DELICIOUS FROM LABORIE

It has been some time since I last tasted wine from Laborie, so I was delighted to be able to remedy this.

The wine was a newie from them, their first Rosé.

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Made in the style of Provence, the Rosé is a blend of shiraz, mourvèdre and cinsaut, with a touch of cabernet sauvignon as well.

The wine is a lovely salmon pink in colour. Its nose is a lovely mix of strawberries and melon, for me the smell of summer. On the palate I picked up some citrus and a pleasing minerality too.

It drank beautifully and begged to be enjoyed outdoors, I obliged!

Time for me to seek out more of the Laborie range…….

 

The Laborie Rosé 2018 retails at about R95 a bottle

 

 

 

 

LOCAL BUBBLIES SET TO BLOSSOM INTERNATIONALLY

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Domaine des Dieux, the boutique wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus, was crowned as South Africa’s best Cap Classique exponent at this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

The Domaine des Dieux Claudia Brut MCC 2012, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, won the category for Best Brut Blend as well as Best Producer having achieved the highest score of all the 127 wines entered into this year’s rendition of the 17th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

Simonsig Estate from Stellenbosch dominated the competition’s Rosé Category with the Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 (no added sulphur).

In the category for Best Blanc de Blancs, Colmant Brut Chardonnay (non-vintage) from Franschhoek took top honours. And in the Museum Class for wines eight years and older, House of JC le Roux came out tops with its classic Pongracz Desiderius 2009.

Chair of the judging panel, Heidi Duminy says that Cap Classique is poised to explode on the international scene …..if this year’s Amorim Cap Classique Challenge winners are anything to go by – BOOM BOOM!!

WINNING CAPE BLENDS FOR 2018

The 2018 Perold / Absa Cape Blend winners were announced at the end of last week.

In the rules of the competition, at least 30% of the final blend – but not more than 70% – has to be Pinotage.

We were able to taste all the finalist wines before the announcement. I loved their diversity. I was familiar with all the wineries, but Leipzig Winery was new to me and I really enjoyed their award winning wine.

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The winners are:

KWV Abraham Perold Tributum 2014

WO Coastal: Shiraz, Pinotage, Malbec , Cabernet Sauvignon ,  Petit Sirah

Winemaker Louwritz Louw.

Leipzig Master Blend 2017

WO Western Cape: Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot . Winemaker: Vian Bester.

Lyngrove Platinum Latitude 2016

WO Stellenbosch: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz.

Winemaker: Danie van Tonder .

Pulpit Rock Louisa Reserve 2014

WO Swartland: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot.

Winemaker: Dewald Huisamen .

Wildekrans Cape Blend Barrel Select Reserve 2015

WO Botrivier: Pinotage, Shiraz , Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir .

Winemaker: Braam Gericke

 

A CHERISHED CHILDHOOD MEMORY ON A BOTTLE

Durbanville Hills recently launched their premium collection of wines, the Collectors Reserve.

Since the establishment of Wines of Origin Cape Town last year, I have been waiting for a wine producer to “come out of the blocks” with a concept that fully advantages their Cape Town identity. With the recent launch of their premium range, the Collectors Reserve Durbanville Hills have done just that…… and then some.

To complement each of the wines, they commissioned Cape Town artist, Theo Vorster to create a hand-coloured linocut to pair each wine with a prominent landmark in Cape Town.

The Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve range consists of: The Cape Mist Sauvignon Blanc, The Cape Gardens Chenin Blanc, The Cableway Chardonnay, The Lighthouse Merlot, The Castle of Good Hope Cabernet Sauvignon, The High Noon Shiraz and The Promenade Pinotage. Each sports a striking linocut label by Vorster.

One linocut in particular struck a chord with me, it was The Promenade Pinotage. Depicted on it are penguins strolling along the Sea Point promenade with the Table Mountain range in the background.

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As a child in the middle-to-late 1950s living in Sea Point, I remember occasionally encountering penguins walking along the promenade. Even at that young age, I appreciated these sightings. I have shared this memory with a many a Sea Pointer, the youngsters I asked dismiss that memory as being nonsense. But the older people, after a while undergo a facial expression change and a smile that signals that memory rekindled for them too.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of the Durbanville Hills Collectors Range wines, each of which is affordably priced.

Initially, four varietals in the range (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinotage) will be available at select retail stores and the other three (Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon) available to purchase at Durbanville Hills itself.

Congratulations Durbanville Hills your new range of wines has made this Capetonian happy and proud.

 

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PALETTE/PALATE BOTH APPLY TO BOSMAN FAMILY VINEYARD WINES

As a lover of wine, for me, nothing beats a visit to an estate. But sometimes one has a visit that delivers so much more than the pleasure of a tasting.

From attending wine trade shows, I have met Bosman Family Vineyard’s winemaker, Corlea Fourie and tasted some of her wines. But I recently had a rather special wine-related experience, a visit to their estate in Wellington.

My host for the visit was Neil Buchner, their Brand Consultant.

From the moment I drove through the gates, I was enchanted by the look and the feel of the Bosman Estate, peppered as it is with exquisite Cape Dutch buildings dating back to the early 1700s and thanks to winter rains, lots of lovely greenery.

 

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Neil drove me around the vineyards and the neighbouring community projects supported by Bosman Family Vineyards. I must say I was totally spellbound by what I saw, especially from their Bosman Adama arm.

 

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Bosman Adama graft more than eight million vines – and that makes them the biggest vine nursery in Africa. They grow all Vitis species: Wine grapes, Table grapes, and Raisin grapes and also graft all possible combinations of vines. Currently more than 350 different combinations are grafted every season. Clients choose the rootstocks that best suit their soil types and growing requirements.

It was most impressive to see their grafting shed full of staff working with rootstock, there was a palpable air of pride in what they were doing. This first sighting of rootstock has left added an indelible mark on my appreciation of wine.

 

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After the tour we went to their absolutely exquisite and atmospheric Tasting Room, one of the most impressive I’ve seen anywhere.

I tried to taste those Bosman wines I hadn’t tried before. Of their chenins, I was already familiar with their iconic Optenhorst Chenin Blanc, so I tasted instead the Generation 8 Chenin Blanc. It gave off lovely stone fruit and a crisp aftertaste. It reaffirmed why of whites, I like chenin the most.

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Also special was the Fides Grenache Blanc. An ‘orange’ white wine – orange wines are left to macerate on their skins for longer than usual. It had a citrusy nose with some aromatic gentle spiciness. I’m fairly new to grenache blanc, but I really liked the Fides and think it would do well paired with some full-flavoured dishes. Note to wife of self….let’s try it out.

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On to some of the reds I tried. The first one was the Generation Shiraz. Medium-bodied, with the spicy tobacconess I enjoy.

 

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After that I tasted, DRUM ROLL…..

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The Twyfeling Cinsault. I’m not going to detail its nose and palate, but let me say just this one thing, it is my favourite wine of 2018. Please if you can, give it a try and let me know what you thought of it.

Recently, there was discussion on social media about the sometimes misspelling of the word palate on wine back labels. Palate is a taste term, palate relates to art.

In the case of the Twyfeling Cinsault, both words apply. Under the creative talents of winemaker Corlea Fourie, this wine is unquestionably a work of art and also adds much colour to the taste-buds as well. I’m going to keep an eye on this wine, it could (and should) start a cinsualt revival in this country.

All in all, I enjoyed everything about my visit and Neil was a charming and “good company’ host. I can’t guarantee Neil if you visit, but you will definitely be hospitably looked after.

 

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PEAKING PINOTAGES HERALDED

I love a good pinotage!

Every year, thanks to the ABSA Top Ten Pinotages, my palate’s bucket list gets refreshed

Congratulations to my  winning friends (and future friends) for 2018, taste you soon:

Allée Bleue Black Series Old Vine Pinotage 2016

Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2015

Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve 2017

Fairview Primo Pinotage 2016

Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage 2016

Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage 2015

Kanonkop Pinotage 2013

Lyngrove Platinum Pinotage 2016

Môreson The Widow Maker Pinotage 2015

Rijk’s Reserve Pinotage 2014

A BREATH OF FRENCH FLAIR

Looking for a red to go with our dinner beef dish, I cast my eyes over my wine collection…my eyes stopped at a rather pretty label with a pink centre – the wine was the Marianne Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

French-owned, Marianne Estate is a boutique wine estate situated off the R44 between Simondium and Stellenbosch.

My wife and I run many trail runs in the area and I had noticed the sign to Marianne but had never visited it nor tasted their wines. So recently on the way back from a run, we popped in for a brief look around.

Tasting wines after an 11Km run is not the most sensible thing to do (believe me, I’ve tried), so taking a bottle home to try was our sober decision…..

So instead of erring, we took home a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

 

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Dark ruby red, its nose was of dark stone fruit with some almost eastern spice as well. To me the pink label suggested some delicacy and the first sip confirmed that. Gentle and silky, and despite its relatively low % alcohol (13.5%) for me, it is full-flavoured and sophisticated. Although it went well with our meat, I much preferred drinking it on its own and slowly….aaah, I liked it!

 

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Phone: 021 875 5040

 

I SNIFFED A LINE-UP OF OAKS AT NEDERBURG

A visit to Nederburg is always a pleasure, but my most recent visit was a rather special one. We were invited to experience The Wood Diaries and to learn how different types of oak interact with cabernet sauvignon.

The tasting and blending experience was hosted by Nederburg’s red wine maker, Samuel Viljoen, in the Manor House, which is home to the Red Table Restaurant..

We were divided up into groups of five and given the task of blending cabernet sauvignons, each matured in a different kind of oak.

Samuel presented us with a line-up of four glass jars – one with pieces of American oak, the next with moderately toasted French Oak, then one with intensely toasted French oak and the fourth with Eastern European oak.

We sniffed then all before deciding on our blend which was moderate French oak dominant with equal portions of French intense and American oak.

The moderate French oak we liked for its mocha and caramel flavour, the intense for its spicy, smoky notes and for the majority of our team, some American oak to add a little sweet vanilla character.

We were delighted with our resulting blend and named it Nederburg Quintet, had our blend been deemed the best, we would have to have renamed it the Famous Five……

After the blending experience we got to taste a wide range of Nederburg’s wines. I may not be blessed with the most learned palate on the planet, but it is amazing how my taste buds lock in the more expensive wines. In this case two in particular:  The Nederburg Ingenuity, a red blend and the Nederburg Ingenuity white blend.

 

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Over the last couple of years, I have developed a liking for wines made from Italian varietals, so the Ingenuity Red Italian blend was right up my street – it’s a blend of sangiovese (49%), barbera (40%) and nebbiolo (11%). It has a gorgeous nose of dark berries and some spice and strong fruity, and spicy on the palate. I like a red wine with muscles and the Ingenuity Italian blend certainly doesn’t just lie there meekly….and its bottle-shape and labelling are very classy.

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The Ingenuity White blend is sauvignon blanc dominated (38%) with chardonnay, semillion, chenin blanc, rousanne, alvarinho, weisser riesling and gewurtztraminer making the rest of the blend. My first sip of it initially revealed the sauvi characteristics and then the softer floral and spicy tones. Because of its taste detail, it should pair very well with a spectrum of meat and poultry dishes.

Two thoughts came to mind on the way home:

There are many fine Nederburg wines I have yet to taste…

The Red Table restaurant beckoned the foodie in me.

Watch this space…

 

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