Saturday, September 27, 2008

CHEVIOT SYRAH 2004 - 85+ Points

For more information on Cheviot Syrah, please go to or alternatively contact Jaap Scholten @ or Elmari Swart @

CHEVIOT SYRAH 2004 - 85+ Points

Cheviot Syrah 2004 – 2006

The Cheviot Winery was started by Elmari Swart (MSc Oenology) and Jaap Scholten, over a bottle of sparkling Australian Shiraz, while living in an apartment on Cheviot Place, Green Point, South Africa.

Their search for a good Cape Rhone-style Syrah tempted then into starting their own garagiste winery.

2004 was their maiden vintage, with only 1 ton of grapes pressed.

In one word a stunning Syrah, if you can get your hand on it do not think twice…… there were only 612 bottles made….

From 2005 the annual harvest had since increased to two tons, producing roughly 1200 bottles per vintage.

Elmari and Jaap winemaking philosophy is based on Quality, Purity and Authenticity.

The quality is ensured by personal attention to detail, from the vineyard right through to the final bottled and packaged product.

In true Garagiste term everything is done by hand - tasting the grapes for the final harvest decision; open-tub fermentation; manual basket press - tasting of the juice, no use of hydraulics and pressure gauges; bottling by hand, even corking, labelling, and packing by hand.

Due to the small volume of grapes, terroir indeed plays a major part in the final wine.

Wine-making aspects is kept as constant as possible, thereby only letting the harvest and weather of a specific vintage to play a role in the outcome of the wine.

The oak regime are very subtle with 25% new French oak, 25% second fill French, 25% second fill American, and 25% first or second fill Hungarian oak for maturation.

2004 Cheviot Syrah 85+ Points

"Complex, gamey, earthy, minty, hints of dry rosemary, elegant and delicate, lovely fruit / acid / oak / alc integration, juicy, spicy peppery finish. Now until 2013"

The Cheviot Syrah 2004 beautifully expresses the small but concentrated crop of grapes harvested from the warm growing conditions of that vintage.Sourced from the prestigious Simonsberg area of Stellenbosch.

The vineyards are planted on medium vigour, well drained, granitic soils and managed to retain a healthy balance between grape production and growth and the crop was reduced by green-harvesting.

The fruit was harvested on the basis of analysis, taste and vine physiology. .

All damaged or unripe grapes were removed at harvest thereafter hand sorted - individual berries were selected and crushed into 500L open top fermenters. Approximately 10% of the berries remained whole. Selected yeast cultures were added and fermentation was successfully completed at 25-27°C.

The cap was punched down (pigeage) three times daily to ensure gentle extraction. Once fermentation was completed, the wine was pressed using a traditional wooden basket press and run directly to barrels (225L).
Malolactic fermentation was completed in the oak to ensure integration of the wood and fruit flavours. One Bordeaux style barrel and one American oak barrel (both second fill) were used for maturation. The wine received a racking once malolactic fermentation was successfully completed and another 3 months later.After maturation of 14 months, the wine was bottled without any fining or filtration and the minimum amount of sulphur was used to prevent oxidation.
The Cheviot Syrah 2004 85+ Points
is deep, dark purple-ruby in colour, typical of a young wine. The nose presents pronounced red berry fruit with a bouquet of fynbos perfume, complex, gamey, earthy, minty, hints of dry rosemary, elegant and delicate, lovely fruit / acid / oak / alc integration, juicy, spicy peppery finish.The palate has layers of generous ripe fruit and structured tannins, flowing into in a delicious, velvety aftertaste. Now until 2013
Chemical analysisMaiden Vintage 2004 total production: 612 bottles Alcohol 13.35 % v/v pH 3.7 g/l Total Acidity 5.7 g/l The Cheviot Syrah 2004 was released on August the 1st 2006.
2005 Cheviot Syrah 83+ Points
2005 grapes was selected from only 4 rows grown on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains, so no Simonsberg grapes this time "Sweet vanillin from the American Oak and red berry compote, delicate, refined, complex, elegant almost a claret style of Syrah, subtle earthy character. Now until 2013"
2006 Cheviot Syrah 80+ Points
"Complex red berries / spicy melange, hints of paprika dustiness, complex mouth feel, "Ribena", cassis syrup like richness, with lovely freshness, ripe needs time for acid to integrate. Now until 2013".
Tasted & rated by Miguel Chan

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Klein Constantia Estate Vinotheque Tastings November 2007

Klein Constantia Vinotheque tastings November 2007

Sauvignon Blanc

1986 83 Points
Dusty, peppery, prominent wet earth, structure still holding very well, juicy texture. Amazing for a 21 years old Cape Sauvignon Blanc.

So call wine critic who are adamant that great Cape Sauvignon do not age, will be discredited, they should rather write about beers, eat Boerewors and drink brandy & coke.

2003 83+ Points
Ripe tropical and passion fruit, dusty texture, elegant complex wine.

2005 85+ Points
Beautiful, compact, tense structure, juicy, peppery, freshly squeeze white grapefruit texture, need food to express it’s best.

Blanc de Blanc

1987 84 Points
Lovely peach texture, caramel & mild toast, delicate fruit structure, holding very well, hints of botrytis on the finish. Blend of Chenin Blanc & Sauvignon.

Rhine Riesling

1986 82 Points
Sweet peach, apricot flesh fruit, terpene character very evident, delicate elegant texture, off dry finish.

1998 86 Points
Terpene, delicate white floral notes, a bit shy compare to 1986. Complex structure, candied kumquat, lime, drier than 1986, very complex, delicate & sophisticated


2004 84 Points
Dusty, peppery, white oak vanillin structure / flavours, delicate, will hold very well for another 5 years.


1990 75 Points
Fruit fading, caramel, toffee, maderized character.

1995 77 Points
Fruit fading, leesy character, sweet oak aftertaste.

2003 80+ Points
Lovely sweet ripe fruits, candied lime & lemon, intense structure, long leesy finish.

Pinot Noir

1996 73 Points
Truffles, red currants, typical complex Pinot Noir aromas. Palate deceiving, not as complex as nose suggest, short finish.

2001 87 Points
Restrained, classic Burgundian feel, tight, fresh lovely fruit and natural acidity, morello cherries, delicate structure. Complex. Will last another +/- 4 years. This is the style of Pinot noir that sells at top end fine dining hotel restaurant, internationally, as it is neither overpowering, nor too weak, it has great natural acidity with delicate fruit structure, so will worked in harmony with rich oily fish, duck and mild matured game.
If only South Africa could make more of this style of Pinot Noir.

2004 85+ Points
Riper, denser fruit structure, earthier, tighter, needs time, will be as beautiful if not more complex than the 2001, in +/- 3 years (2010)

Cabernet Sauvignon

1997 81 Points
Minty, dusty, ripe delicate structure, almonds, walnut and richly textured, drink now.


1996 79 Points
Cedar, cassis, old leather, delicate and elegant. Now and over the next 2 years.

1998 81+ Points
Riper sweeter, denser, more concentrated, without loosing it’s elegance, hints of sharpness on finished / aftertaste.

2000 74+ ? Points
Denser, very prominent dry tannins, slight bitterness, will the fruit hold ?

1993 70 Points
Fruit fading, drink now, hints of bitterness, and very dry tannins that will not melt.

Noble Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc

1992 91 Points
Richly textured, smokey, toasty, sun ripened peach, very intense finish.

2002 89+ Points
Richly textured, treacle, Canadian maple syrup, ripe apricot, dried fig and very ripe pears aftertaste.

2005 90 Points
Darker in colour than the 2002 ? Bigger texture, sweeter, cleaner, very ripe and rich apricot aftertaste.

Vin de Constance

1988 88+ Points
Terpene/petrolly, rich, burnt lemon zest character, acidity brings freshness, intense long finish.

1992 90+ Points
Ripe, richly textured, sun ripened apricot, sweet vanilla, intense long finish.

1996 88+ Points
Intense, ripe peaches, rich mouthfeel, complex raisiny aftertaste.

Constantia Glen New Vintages

Constantia Glen

Established in 2000, perched high up near Constantia Nek this is Constantia Valley latest winery. The first wine was bottle in 2005, a phenomenal Sauvignon Blanc a la Cloudy Bay style followed by an equally impressive 2006, one of the star of the vintages.

Winemaker Karl Lambour, a towering giant, is one of the most meticulous and knowledgeable wine maker I have come across in the Cape, a born perfectionist join the stable in 2006, now overlooking the 29 hectares planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc.

Constantia Glen 120 ton state of the art gravity fed cellar, is one of the most modern in the Cape, offering precision winemaking at all level of production. This is a winery to watch, if meticulous approach is maintain, expect some world class wine in the next 10 years, if not sooner!

Privilege pre-tasting of flagship red following pre blending component tasted from barrel in February. At that time the tannins and structure suggested a style somewhere between the profile of Anwilka, Vilafonté, Morgenster and Anthonij Rupert range, however post blending have created a totally different and complete wine, with a profile for a Bordeaux style never encountered before in the Cape. Exciting, interesting & captivating. The Cape needs more of this style to gain more international respect.

Clear with bright cherry red with slight purple rim. Fragrant, with delicate medley of blackcurrant, very ripe cassis, and lead pencil minerality intermingle with cedar notes, as wine warm up toasty notes of dark chocolate comes through lending a new dimension to the already complex aromas profile, never encountered before in a Cape Bordeaux style blend. Oak very much in balance coaxing subtle notes of dark forest fruit, delicate and subtle with refreshing acidity, very well integrated for a wine that was only blended 2 and half week earlier, already appealing with charm and a sense of sophistication. Perhaps not for the long term by world standard, but very good by Cape standard, this wine will reach it’s full potential at +/- 2013 and will drink well until around 2016+, as vines ages couple by a better understanding of each site and growing condition, expect a more profound product to come from this winery, definitely a winery to watch, Private collectors, Sommeliers.... get your cheque ready for release in January 2009.....

32% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18%Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc & 11% Petit Verdot . 13 month in new French oak, TA 5.3, PH3.6, alc 14.5.

Price: Unknown at time of tasting, expect to pay at least level 3

2 ways to enjoy the Constantia Glen Red Blend:

1- Vine fired roasted lamb loin rubbed with parsley, crushed Szechuan pepper and garlic flakes, served rare served with pommes dauphine, spring vegetables a l’Anglaise and jus corsé enhanced with black truffles shavings.

2- Wild Cape Guinea fowl marinated in red wine and a sprig of fynbos, slowly braised with forest mushrooms, home cured bacon and veal stock and served with herb tagliatelle and fresh tomato compote.

Food suggestions above created by Tomato Catering, for more information please email

2008 Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 83 Points

Discreet varietal note, with gooseberries, touch of tropical fruit medley and hints of elderflower. Lighter structure than 2007, only 12.5% vs 14%, but broader palate lends interest and charm, notes of green lime, guava skin and racy acidity suggest hints of Semillon.......... it’s. Winemaker Karl Lambour was spot on in his harvest bringing in most Sauvignon grapes before the 3 and half day non stop long deluge over the week end of 10th & 11th February that annihilated most Cape Sauvignon of the 2008 vintage.

Irrespective of all the effort, nowhere as close as 2007 or the great 2006, definitely shows characteristic of the 2008 vintage, nevertheless one of the few survivors of 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.

Anticipated integration around December 2008 thereafter should drink well with the possibility of a fatter mid palate due bottle age until +/- 2012.

Price: 2

2 ways to enjoy the Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2008:

1 – Carpaccio of kingklip with herbs dressing and a light dust of baie roses du Cap
2 – Crunchy medley of spring asparagus spears, rocket, cherry tomato and chervil, served with grilled goat cheese medaillon and a Key lime dressing enhanced with Passion fruit pearls.

Food suggestions above created by Tomato Catering, for more information please email

Tasted in the presence of Constantia Glen owner Gus C.G.Allen, consultant Dominique Hebrard previous owner of Chateau Cheval Blanc and now owner of Chateau Bellefont-Belcier, a Saint Emillion Grand Cru Classé, Constantia Glen Winemaker Karl Lambour and Marketing Director Jeremy Nel of Luxury Brand.

Tasted on the 30th July 2008 at 1530
Miguel Chan
Certified Sommelier
2007 Young South African Sommelier of the year – Chaine des Rôtisseurs
2007 Finalist, Concours Internationale des Jeunes Sommeliers World Final, Frankfurt Germany.
2008 Certificate of Competence with distinction from the WINE magazine Michael Fridjhon Tasting Academy

Older Vintages......

2007 Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 85+Points

Expressing the vintage, touch lighter than 2006, more gooseberries and green kiwi, leaner, crisper structure, with hints of minerality. Fresh and delicate. 2008 – 2011.
Price: 2

2006 Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 88 Points

From a vineyard high up near Constantia Nek, comes this phenomenal almost like white grapefruit and freshly tucked asparagus tip, lime and lemon grass aromas. Thick, concentrated and oily, this mouth filling Sauvignon is highly recommended, only 8ooo bottles produced. June 2007 until 2013. IWC Gold and 90 points Wine spectator.
Price: 2

2005 vintage 4 star WINE magazine
Not tasted.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2007 Crystallum Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 85 point

One of the most exciting Cape Sauvignon Blanc discoveries of 2008

2007 Crystallum Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 85 point

Boutique wine operation, hand crafted by brothers Andrew and Peter-Allan Finlayson, sons of Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayon fame, the Cape most experience and most consistent pinot noir creator.

Now w ill they lived up to expectation and are they going to be one of the new label / wineries to watch?

Well judging from the maiden release Sauvignon Blanc made by Peter Allan, there Is indeed an element of seriousness in their venture and their maiden vintage 2007 from 100% Walker Bay fruit, of which only 4134 bottle were release, made in the Walker Bay region, so minimal carbon footprint here……

Very fine debut, regarding 2007 challenging Sauvignon vintage across all wards and district. I am convince it would have done more justice to the wine, was it been bottle under screw cap, as I believe the cork have contributed to the slight austerity style of the wine. Now until 2011. Very good expression of the Walker Bay terroir.

Tasting Note
“Asparagus, white pepper and gun flint, subtle aromas not overly expressive or should I say aggressive as a Sauvignon.
Crisp, racy with steely acidity, juicy gooseberries, has mid palate richness, (which is very interesting as 95 % of Cape Sauvignon does not have midpalate texture.......) and complexity, delicate, spritzy texture”.

A must try for anyone who take their Sauvignon Blanc seriously and well respected wine list should not be without as a listing decision.

Tasted in March 2008 – Miguel Chan

6 ways to enjoy the Crystallum Sauvignon Blanc:

1-Great on it’s own as an aperitif

2-Crumbed creamy goat cheese, with fresh green salad, julienne of grilled bell pepper medley, blanch asparagus tip.

3-Grilled Jacopever fillet, on a tartare of avocado and flash fry vine ripened cherry tomato.

4-Cantonese inspired wok stirred fried vegetable such as French beans, carrot, celery, bell pepper, bamboo shoot and spring onion with oyster sauce.

5-Yellowtail Carpaccio rolled in sundried tomato with rocket and celeriac salad drizzle with a light grapefruit dressing and chives.

6 – Grilled freshly caught White Steenbras from Hermanus lagoon, served with a fennel salad seasoned with freshly squeeze green lime and coarse black pepper.

Food suggestions above created by Tomato Catering

To know more about Crystallum wines, please visit their website or contact Peter Allan or Andrew below