Monday, November 23, 2009

2007 Riebeek Cellars Chenin Blanc 82 Points

Fragrant, zesty, guava, lime and melon, lively freshness and delicate summer fruit, juicy and elegant, now until 2011

2006 Stellenbosch Hills Chenin Blanc 68 Points

Very discreet nose of lime and guava, green herbs, fruit fading, acidity out of balance, lean structure, now until 2010

2005 Rhebokskloof Rhebok Paarl Chenin Blanc 69 Points

Deep gold, dried straws and baked apples, flabby, no fruit or structure, lean and watery. Now until 2010

2002 Uitkyk Cabernet / Shiraz Simonsberg 75+ Points

Minty, eucalyptus oil, hints of oak and sun bake grape. Soft texture, light, lean and lacking structure, fruit fading, minty, earthy flavours follows through, very dry tannins. Now until 2010.

2003 Buitenverwachting Meifort Constantia 79+ Points

Fragrant vanilla, cedar and hints of old leather with lead pencil minerality comes to the fore, old world elegance, complex, refreshing acidity, light spicy warming aftertaste. Now until 2010.

2004 Waterford Estate CWG Bordeaux Blend, Stellenbosch 82 Points

Complex currants, meaty and gamey, juicy with fresh acidity, polished tannins, elegant and refined food wine,but somehow misses the aura and X Factor of other CWG wines, now until 2012

2006 Creation Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot Walker Bay 83+ Points

Very ripe currant, cassis and hint of mint, charry oak character and dried vanilla pod, flavours follow through, though oak overpowering for such delicate fruit, might integrate with the rich, ripe juicy extracted structure, minty finish. From 2009 until 2015

2002 Muratie Estate Ansela Van de Caab 80 Points

Complex red currant, tar, hints of smoke and new wood vanillin, colour holding well for a 2002, delicate, earthy, with some greenness, lovely uncomplicated food wine at home. Now until 2011

2006 Iona Elgin Syrah 81+ Points

Fine example of young vine Syrah / Shiraz, with dash of Mourvedre, good powerful style for complexity and overt personality, splash of Viognier, lends a floral note, without being vulgar, in overpowering the delicate and fragrant red berry fruit, floral seductiveness and white pepper spiciness, Rhône profile, showing good restraint, fresh and lively, good dryness, minuscule production.
From 2011 until 2014

NV Cabriere Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose 82+ Points

NV Cabriere Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose
Delicate note of summery red berry fruit, not overly complex, good freshness and light bodied, for uncomplicated drinking at home, a touch light for pairings with fine cuisine, need more substance, now until 2012

2005 Rustenberg John X Merriman Simonsberg Stellenbosch 81 Points

Herbal, “ripe” pyrazine, ripe blackcurrant with earthy notes of lead pencil and cedar wood, fragrant oak, dry tannin, savoury edge, now until 2015

2007 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 85 Points

Ripe apples, citrus quite fragrant, interesting complex nose of mild toast and light floral note, atypical Chenin aromas from a Cape perspective but very interesting, complex, mouth filling, fresh, crisp and good fruit concentration, toast, creamy texture, excellent integration of oak, long fresh finish, clean buttery structure. Now until 2013

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 Two Oceans Western Cape Pinot Noir 85 Points

A good initiation to South African Pinot Noir

Last week I came across what could arguably be the cheapest Pinot Noir in the world, the 2009 Two Oceans Western Cape Pinot Noir at R 29 (USD 4), a bottle retail at Makro and Checkers , new addition to the range of everyday drinking wine from this highly commercial label, made by Distell.

It is a fine effort to be applauded, not only for the price but for the sheer drinking style of this wine, with upfront boiled beetroot character, dark cherry and earthy note with hints of minty fynbos character, which let me presume a portion of the fruit might be from Elim wards in the Southern Cape as Pinot Noir from that area have that canny dried minty character, not distracting at all in subtle doses….. overall it shows Pinot Character at R 29, could you believe it?

The only slight downside is the colour of the wine, touch too dark for Pinot Noir, so wondering what else could have been added to beefed up the red pigment!

Could it be the old South African trick of a soupcon of Shiraz / Syrah!.......

Nevertheless tick all the right box in other areas with good fresh acidity, little or no wood at all, though a touch of charry note after 15 hours left opened in the bottle, good fruit expression.

What more do one want for that price? At least it’s far better than most Shiraz / Syrah or the dreadful Merlot invading the market at present….

It’s a must try for something different around the table and for sure over delivers in quality compares to other Two Oceans wines, it would be great to see it on more wine lists as it will help a long way with educating patrons about what is inside a bottle that’s count rather than the label, and a 2009 Decanter Silver medal, further confirms my rating and judgement.

Well done to the Two Oceans team, let’s see if consistency will now be maintain! With future vintages.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2006 Towerkop Chenin Blanc 72 Points

2006 Towerkop Chenin Blanc 72
Discreet, faint hints of apples, light and lean, simple structure, low concentration, green character.

2006 Napier Wellington Greenstone Chenin Blanc 70 Points

2006 Napier Wellington Greenstone 70 Points
Austere, bottle age character, dried straw, lacking fruit, very green unripe, lean and acidic, tart raw green pea, now until 2010

2006 Rijk's Private Cellar Barrel Fermented Coastal Region Chenin Blanc 82 Points

2006 Rijk’s Private Cellar Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 82
Discreet whiff of New oak, green apples and limes, crisp clean, steely freshness, juicy hints of creamy vanilla yogurt, now until 2011

2006 Laibach Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 69 Points

2006 Laibach Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 69 Points
Austere, thin diluted structure, lacking fruit and complexities, unripe green apples aftertaste.

2006 Jean Daneel Directors Signature Western Cape Blend Chenin Blanc 85+ Points

Ripe pineapples, apricots, barley and sweet vanillin character, hint of smoke, complex, ripe pineapples follows through juicy citrus and hints of marzipan. Crisp, complex broad but elegant mouthfeel, very well made, complex food wine.
Now until 2012+

2006 Blue Cove Robertson Chenin Blanc 71 Points

Hints of dry straw and caramel, overshadowing green apples fruit and acidity, shy fruit and lean, now until 2010

2006 Flagstone Cellar Hand Swartland Chenin Blanc 87 Points

2006 Flagstone Cellar Hand Swartland Chenin Blanc 87 Points
Ripe apples, guava, tropical fruit, crisp and lively with a very good steelyness, melon. Lovely concentrated structure, minerals, peach aftertaste.
Now until 2011.
Another Bruce Jack tour de force, however considering the near wrold class quality, it break my heart to see the wine was on offer at R 12 (1.20 Sterling Pound) at Mooiberg in Stellenbosch, one of the best unwooded old vine Chenin Blanc I have come across...................

2005 Raats Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 73+ Points

2005 Raats Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 73+ Points
Discreet, austere, unreveilling, shy fruit, crisp, dry. Granny Smith freshness on palate, uncomplex, on the green side.

So many restaurateurs and some Sommeliers friends in South Africa raved about the Raats Chenin Blanc, either the unwooded or lightly wooded version, however after 6 years in South Africa I can honestly say it does not sell on a wine lists.

I've had the priviledge to known Bruwer Raats as part of the Rodwell House tasting club,great personality and friend, but I am afraid to say his Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are extremely hard sell on a wine lists in South Africa, it has achieved high score through Wine Spectator over the last 4 years, but the impact through the South African clientele has been pretty dismal,hence the difficulty to even moved 12 bottles over 12 month........

2006 Ken Forrester Stellenbosch Chenin blanc 72+ Points

Terpene aromas, almost like a 2 year old hot climate Riesling, before the Golden delicious apples come to the fore, hints of hay, with baked apples texture, touch flabby, simple aftertaste. Now until 2010

Considering that the Ken Forrester and Martin Meinert duo, can produce a world class Chenin Blanc by means of their FMC, which I considered as the best of the Southern hemisphere and can give Domaine Huet a run for their demi sec Vouvray, this is the complete extreme and opposite, in one word disappointing, it is good for down the road bistro and for everyday home drinking, it over delivers from it's price point but a no no for 4 and 5 stars grading hotels listings, even by the glass.......

2008 Sir Lambert Sauvignon Blanc 91 Points

Fragrant gooseberries, intense, complex salty minerality, juicy and chewy a far cry from the simple and unappealing 2007, 6 months lees contact have resulted in a sound mid palate, very good expression of a moderate climate Sauvignon Blanc.
From a vineyard compose of sand and limestone soil at a stone throw from the Atlantic ocean (3km) in Lambert’s bay on the West Coast 200 km north of Cape Town, to date this is the only wine certified Wine of Origin Lambert's Bay and definitely add value to a list in terms of showcasing the amazing diversity of South African terroir.
Now until 2013

2005 Engelbrecht Els Stellenbosch 81 Points

Compressed coffee, toasty, earthy, burning alcohol, complex minty note, sweet high glycerine and oily, Bordeaux style blends with some shiraz, now until 2014.
Very New World in style with huge wacking of new oak and high alcohol, show wine by excellence but very challenging to pair with delicate cuisine, but could be a good winter companion by the fire place................

2006 Graham Beck Western Cape Blend Brut Rosé 84 Points

This blend of 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay was pressed together, shows a coppery, sunset hue, with notes of ripe strawberries, cherries, hints of toast brioche crust and yeasty element.
Very fine tiny bubbles, delicate with lovely freshness, not overly complex as in previous vintages, could this be the result of early degorgement, due to high sales demand? Nevertheless has some charm, will drink well until 2012

2004 Uitkyk Carlonet Simonsberg Stellenbosch 80 Points

Lovely red berries and good Cabernet Sauvignon fruit definition, intermingle with fragrant oak, savoury dark cherries, polished tannin well integrated, but a tad short on aftertaste, now until 2011

2006 Herold Outeniqua Merlot 82+ Points

Ripe plums, dark cherries, lead pencil and cedar wood complexities and dusty oak character, delicate fruit, but lacking a bit of body, as well as a tad too much oak, hence shadowing delicate fruit and Merlot pulp, slight unripe character.
With a little less extraction and may be older wood could wellturn out to be a beaufiful Merlot, with the benefit of vine ageing, it is to be followed, Now until 2011.

2007 Steenberg Vineyards Constantia Semillon 86+ Points

Ripe white peach, hints of vanilla, apricot and smoke. Peppery, complex crisp structure, almost oily, long minerally juicy finish. A huge step above the 2004, 2005,2006, as it is cleaner, with better defined fruit expression and purity, excellent structure for cellaring.
Vinified by Ruth Penfolds, certainly a feminine touch here, would be interesting to see if this style will be followed and maintain,as Ruth is not part of the winemaking team anymore.
Now until 2012

Koelenbosch 2008 Chenin Blanc Houtverrouderd 77 Points

Simple varietal definition, more dry white wine than Chenin Blanc fruitiness, one dimensional, now until 2012
Stellenbosch grown Chenin Blanc

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2005 Riebeek Cellars A Few Good Man Swartland Chardonnay 80+ Points

2005 Riebeek Cellars A Few Good Man Swartland Chardonnay 80+ Points
Peach, apricot, hints of honey, complex sun ripened yellow fruit, hints of botrytis, creamy broad mouth feels, delicate texture, juicy. Now until 2010

2006 Meerendal Estate Durbanville Chardonnay 78+ Points

2006 Meerendal Estate Durbanville Chardonnay 78+ Points
Dusty, fragrant oak, vanilla, toast and hints of tangerine, soft acidity, follows through, fairly complex, burnt lime aftertaste. Now until 2010

2006 Du Preez Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 75+ Points

2006 Du Preez Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 75+ Points
Lime, pineapple and dusty oak character, fairly short finish, uncomplex. Now until 2010

2006 Mountain Oaks Slanghoek Chardonnay 75 Points

2006 Mountain oaks Slanghoek Chardonnay 75 Points
Ripe pineapples, barley and sugar candy, flavours follow through, sweet, lacking freshness and complexity. Now until 2010

2005 La Chimere Franschhoek Chardonnay 78+ Points

2005 La Chimere Franschhoek Chardonnay 78+
Ripe citrus, orange blossom, hints of barley and toasted rice crispies, leesy, fairly complex creamy mouth feels, dry orange, delicate aftertaste, but not enough natural acidity to warrant higher rating, Now until 2010.

2007 Tukulu Organically produced Groenekloof Chardonnay 83 Points

2007 Tukulu Organically produced Groenekloof Chardonnay 83 Points
Ripe summer peach, barley and orange zest, crisp, lovely fruit structure, citrus peel freshness, delicate oak structure, pleasant drinking. Now until 2011

2006 Alvi's Drift Barrel Fermented Worcester Chardonnay 76 Points

2006 Alvi’s Drift Barrel Fermented Worcester Chardonnay 76 Points
Toasty, dusty rice crispies and breadcrumbs, lime, pineapples and hints of creamy vanilla yogurt, thin, un complex aftertaste. Now until 2010

2005 Joubert Tradauw Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 72+ Points

2005 Joubert Tradauw Barrel Fermented Tradouw Chardonnay 72+ Points
Dusty oak vanillin, shadowing fruit, oaky style both on aromatics and palate structure, dusty wood, unbalanced.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2007 Kloovenburg Swartland Chardonnay 77 Points

2007 Kloovenburg Swartland Chardonnay 77 Points
Orange blossom, ripe citrus, grapefruit oil, delicate hint of wood, juicy sweet fruit structure, over the top oaking, hints of white toast and grapefruit jam, lacking structure and complexity, if only that could have been of the unwooded version above, this would be fantastic.

2005 Deetlefs Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 73 Points

2005 Deetlefs Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 73 Points
Discreet nose of lime confit, hints of orange and 3rd fill oak, oxidative character. Crisp, dry, light texture, lacking structure and complexity, fruit fading. Now until 2010.

2005 Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay 75+ Points

2005 Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay 75+ Points
Citrus, toast, hints of barley, sweet toasty oak, juicy, rounded structure, creamy and complex palate, but not too clean, Old wood influence evident Now until 2010

2006 Jason Hill Rawsonville Chardonnay 74 Points

2006 Jason’s Hill Rawsonville Chardonnay 74 Points
Dry barley and straw, cat’s pee, thin watery, lacking freshness and complexity. Drink now until 2010.

2006 La Couronne Franschhoek wooded Chardonnay 74+ Points

2006 La Couronne Franschhoek Wooded Chardonnay 74+ Points
Fragrant, peach, lime, apricot and lemon juice. Crisp, dry, not as complex as nose suggest, fruit fading, watery texture. Now until 2010

2006 Koelfontein Ceres Chardonnay 82+ Points

2006 Koelfontein Chardonnay Ceres 82+ Points Last week I reveiwed the 2007 (85 Points) here is the missing puzzle after the stunning 2005, somehow the 2006 was the ugly duck.........the sun burnt fruit, was truly the negative factor, and the toastiness touch over bearing, masking the delicate fruit, however the candied citrus layers was fairly complex.
Juicy palate, ripe citrus, toasty oak and barley.
Delicate, fresh, lively structure, light bodied.
With some care in the vineyard, has potential to turn into a very fine minerally driven chardonnay………now until 2012

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2006 Ormonde Darling Chardonnay 85 Points

2006 Ormonde Darling Chardonnay 85 Points
Complex nose of lime, orange zest and grapefruit flowers, crisp, broad mouth feel, still integrating, needs time, balanced fruit and oak, fine minerally finish, delicate and refined texture. From 2008+ until 2013

2006 Eagles Cliff Worcester Chardonnay 72 Points

2006 Eagles Cliff Worcester Chardonnay 72 Points
Citrus, peach and apricot aromas, but very deceptive palate, thin, dilute and lean. Now until 2010

2006 Rupert Rothschild Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 80+ Points

2006 Rupert & Rothschild Baroness Nadine Western Cape Chardonnay 80+ Points

Ripe citrus, green melon, hints of toasted barley, fat textured, oily, but some how lacking concentration, juicy lime delicacy and striking effect of previous vintages, otherwise good balance between fruit, oak and acid, the only disturbing factor are the dry straw character, reminiscent of stress fruit and sunburned character. Regarding the very good to excellent 2006 Chardonnay out there, this is above average. Now until 2011
11 July 2008

2004 Buitenverwachting Constantia Merlot 75 Points

2004 Buitenverwachting Constantia Merlot 75 Points
Delicate plum and toffee, complex hints of cigar and dark earth.
Medium bodied, juicy, but mouth feel a tad harsh with unripe tannin and touch too leafy, the aftertaste of ripe red berries compote, create a rather dis jointed feel, now until 2010

2008 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc 72+ Points

Koelenbosch 2008 Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc 72+ Points
Gooseberries, sweet and sour profile, unripe texture, now but may last until 2011

2005 Journey's End Destination Stellenbosch Chardonnay 85 Points

2005 Journey’s End Destination Stellenbosch Chardonnay 85 Points

Ripe lemon, pineapple glace, vanilla, with hints of toast. Rich mouth feels, lanolin richness, clean, fresh with aftertaste of barley, very good length, now until 2016
Very New World / Californian in style, for fans of big oaky Chardonnay
One of the few Cape and Stellenbosch Chardonnay that improve in the bottle, as wellas having a very good cellaring aptitude of up to 10 years from vintage.
Might as well score an extra 2 point with bottle maturity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2006 Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 82+ Points

Waterford Estate Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 82+ Points

Ripe blackcurrant, lead pencil minerality, opulent, with ripe tannins, savoury lots of freshness, has good grip and cabernet austerity, needs time for peppery character to integrate, from 2011 until 2016

2005 Havana Hills Virgin Earth 81 Points

Virgin Earth 2005 81 Points

Bright cherry red, very good clarity, earthy complexity, tar, tobacco, tight ripe tannins, savoury texture, juicy and very well define, but somehow lacks the x factor.
Blend of Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot

The Goose Upper Langkloof Sauvignon Blanc 89 Points

The Goose Upper Langkloof Sauvignon Blanc 2008 89 Points

Intense gooseberries and blackcurrant leaf, fresh, crunchy, with lovely elegance and finesse, flinty.

Will develop more pea character over the next 12 / 18 month
Grown on stony shale sandstone, northern slopes, harvested end of march at 23 balling and Total Acid of 11.5 gram, outstanding stuff and freshness.

After following Herold wines the since 2004 and now for the first time tasted The Goose, I am convince that the future of striking South African Sauvignon blanc with New Zealand opulence, will be made in that part of the Cape, provided it does not rain in summer…….

The Goose wine is owned by famous South African Golfer, Retief Goosen.

2004 Marianne Estate Floreal 81 Points

Marianne Estate Floreal 2004 81 Points

Overripe and porty, dry tannins, juicy and spicy, naturally fermented, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, 16 months in new oak, whopping 15.8 alc/vol, now with your richest stews of venison.
Made from Simonberg grown fruit in Stellenbosch, this is a prime example of Bordeaux winemakers trying to emulate New World style, but got everything wrong in terms of hanging time, as this is close to rocket fuel than anything else, the wine was mark up for it's fruit concentration and purity, but forbids higher rating because the alcohol level is totaly out of balance, as well as the over oaking component, which literally kills the enjoyment of what could have been otherwise a fine wine.
enjoy until 2014

2004 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 86+ Points

2004 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 86+ Points

Dark cherry red, lovely aromatics of blackcurrant, blueberries, cassis, lead pencil and earthy notes.

Clean, no apparent greenness, fairly intense, polished ripe tannins, with hints of minty eucalyptus, suggest some water stressed fruit, lead pencil character prominent with earthy notes, elegant mouth feel, subtle complexity, medium to full bodied.
One of the best priced Cabernet Sauvignon, over delivers in quality, excellent value for money.

Why can't more South African Cabernet Sauvignon be like that and over delivers both on quality and value??

Now until 2013

2006 L'Avenir Simonsberg Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 81 Points

2006 L’Avenir Simonsberg Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 81 Points
Shows characteristic of vintage, good cabernet fruit, medium intensity, but somehow lacking the x factor to warrant higher rating, now until 2013

2007 Thelema Sutherland Elgin Chardonnay 85 Points

2007 Thelema Sutherland Chardonnay Elgin 13.5% 85 Points

Fragrant frangipani, ripe yellow peaches, delicate toast (perfect oaking, touch less would even be better) sweet barley, green citrus zest, fairly complex, touch of botrytis ?

Crisp, oily, light bodied, but has mid palate, textured, juicy, more elegant and less buttery than Stellenbosch version, fine delicate balance between, fruit, acid, oak and alcohol, very fine debut, will have more potential as vine ages.

A tad more concentration would have made a much more interesting wine, but I think it’s more of a vintage characteristic than yield ? Will peak around end 2009, thereafter will drink well until 2012.

Could this be the next “Icon” Chardonnay from Elgin ?

In my opinion Paul Cluver Chardonnay (consistent 85+ / 86 and far away from other Elgin Chardonnay, but to date no 87 yet from Elgin) have no close competition, until now… the future of Elgin wooded (subtly) Chardonnay looks great…..keep it up, this is a very good successful style.

11 July 2008

2006 Steenberg Vineyards Constantia Nebbiolo 87 Points

2006 Steenberg Vineyards Nebbiolo Constantia - 14 % 87 Points

Typical Nebbiolo varietal on the nose, almonds, Morello cherries, ripe red fruit hints of dried spear mint and wet earth.
Delicate, ripe tannins, will need +/- 3 years to integrate, but fine if enjoy with food, such as veal in rich tomato gravy based.
Lighter than the 2005, without loosing it’s complexity and seamless structure.
Very well made. Now until 2013+

PS: Minty character in wines, can sometime be perceived as charming, intriguing,depending the taster, but it is important for everyone to know it is the results of water stress vine, rather than an expression of terroir or the influence of bluegum / eucalyptus tree surrounding the vineyards!

A Trio of Brettanomyces, consumer need to be aware of.........

2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Shiraz 59 Points
2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Cape Blend 59 Points
2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 59 Points

This was quite an amazing tasting in a way that the 3 reds above all shows traces of Brettanomyces, although these wines are very good value at less than R 30 per bottle and hence will be the prime target of everyday wine drinkers, pensioners, and bistro's looking for a simple glass of wine with their meal, I still believe it is unfair on the consumers hard earn Rand they have to pay and drink wine with bacterial spoilage.

It's greatly time that South African wines having hints and traces of Brettanomyces should be exposed to the general public and HORECA buyers, because if South Africa want a strong wine drinking nation to emerge over the next 10 - 15 years, wines should be perfectly clean with no spoilage whatsoever, hence a zero tolerance policy towards Brettanomyces should prevail from all sector, very much like the Australian industry did 15 years ago, and they are reaping in the benefit with outstanding consumer support worldwide, it's greatly time that South African wineries plays the honest card and before bottling needs to ensure their wines are 100 % clean, if not please distilled the damn product and keep your wineries clinically clean at all time.

It is also rewarding that quite a few respected local wine publications are adopting a zero tolerance policy against brettanomyces, it's only very good for the future of wine enjoyment and education.

More to come on the subject of Brettanomyces as I have a few more wines tasted, which shows overt mousy and gamey character and quite a few at the high end of prices, in vino veritas.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2004 Le Bohneur Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 74+ Points

2004 Le Bohneur Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 74+ Points
Ripe red fruit, sour cherries, dark chocolate, earthy, meaty marmite character, dry tannins, lacking structure and concentration, now until 2010

2003 Morgenster Estate 91 Points

2003 Morgenster Estate Stellenbosch 91 Points
Complex and fragrant Cabernets varietals, Sauvignon and Franc, well meshed.
Licorice, earth and ripe blackcurrant, crushed rocks minerality, tight unrevealing
on palate at present, but has lots of potential, ripe fruit lurking behind ripe tannin,
still integrating, hints of tar, tobacco and lead pencil. Refinement, elegance
and freshness. Great food wine. Drink from 2010, until 2015

2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Pinotage 76 Points

2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Pinotage 76 Points
Fragrant toast, touch lavender, but lacking fruit concentration, sour cherry acidity and oak chips flavour, highly commercial, now until 2012

Friday, November 13, 2009

The true expression of South African Merlot

The true expression of South African Merlot

Caveat Emptor - Consumer beware

In 2007 / 8 survey there were 6862.7 hectares of Merlot grown in the South Africa, which represent 6.82 % of the total area or 21,011,021 vines, for an average of 3080 vines per hectares, a far cry from it’s 6500 - 10000+ vines average per hectare of Pomerol, and some pocket of St Emilion.

Merlot thrives in a moderate climate, which very few South African Wards, District or Regions can claimed to be, irrespective of all the marketing non sense of cool climate viticulture and the two oceans as a selling point, the growing climatic conditions of the Cape are best describe as being warm to hot in 85% of the cases, with such an abundance of sunshine and heat factor, it’s irrevocal that we are dealing with super ripe fruit, 14.5 % alc+, low acid and unripe tannin.

The other key factor important to Merlot is a well drained soil structure as well as the ability to keep enough moisture during the height of summer month just to give the vine enough refreshment at the most critical time of ensuring the tannin are perfectly ripe without the green harshness a feature of 95% of Merlot in South Africa.

Merlot thrives best in clay and clay derivatives, a rare facet of the Cape terroir, except for the lucky guys in the Overberg District, and a few lonely pocket of the Coastal Region

In it’s home town of Pomerol the average yields rarely exceeds 5 tons per hectare, whereas in South Africa the norm are 6.5 to 10 tons per hectare and to further support my argument why South Africa makes the worst Merlot of the World, is simple, looking at a few relevant statistics, besides the terroir aspect, is the age of the vines, in Pomerol the average age is 35+, whereas in South Africa the average age of the so call virus free material are less than 15 years on average.

Here is a simple equation akin to dressing up a Lamborghini with a 2 CV Citroen and expecting to have the same results output and speed, in another word South African Merlot producers should start by selecting the right site, with the right clones, do not re-invent the wheel by fooling customer that high yields equal great wines and tone down the oak, the fruit structure as we all know from younger vines is not as saturated as one would get from well established vineyards and hence cannot support 18 to 24 month in new French or American oak, even at 50% of the equation.

The prime characteristic of over 95 % South African Merlot, besides all the positive aromatics one may be enthralled, which by the way is the only positive aspect of SA Merlot and relevant with the great Merlot of the world besides Pomerol, is the lack of mid palate further accentuated with high alcohol, over oaking and the absence of lush fruit and the silky, satiny structure one would expect from this feminine grape, more too often it is hard, dull, one dimensional, with a very good dose of green unripe tannin over extraction a rare combination of jammy fruit as well as dilution due to high yields.

Clever or should it be call the right way, lazy winemaking have overcome that aspect by leaving a good 3.5 to 5 gram of residual sugar, to mask that bitterness and voila, fruity Merlot bomb, that’s a disaster with food pairing and at the same token the customer is continuously being fooled on a daily basis into believing that Merlot is soft, juicy and easy drinking.

The worst part is that the emerging african wine market, is being make to believe that Merlot is a smooth red wine and is a great introduction to the enjoyment of wine!

Not all gloom and doom, there are a handful of producers out there waking up to the call and trying their best not to aligned to mediocrity of their comrades and are starting to produced decent Merlot with all the right attributes, simply by investing time and effort in the vineyards and employing a near perfect oak regime as well as subtle extraction, they are Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet, from Elgin by far South Africa’s finest example to date, akin to a very good Pomerol in a ripe year, Hartenberg Estate from Bottelary wards in Stellenbosch, consistently good over the years as well as one of the best secret from a tiny 0.8 hectare plot in Hout Bay, Kling Merlot 2008, other to watch are Hillcrest in Durbanville and Glenwood in Franschhoek, the rest CAVEAT EMPTOR and my advise to any wine drinker, Rand for Rand South Africa makes far better Pinot Noir than Merlot, next time you asked for a bottle of South African Merlot, think twice…….your hard earn rand and small liver deserves better................

The Midlands Merlot Nouveau

Innovative new wine catches on in KZNDurban � An innovative new red wine that caters for the hot KwaZulu-Natal summer and it's associated outdoor lifestyle activities has been met with an enthusiastic response from the provinces wine lovers..

The Midlands Nouveau, made from Merlot grapes grown at the Greytown vineyards of The Stables Wine Estate, is modelled on the distinctive Beaujolais Nouveau wines that are made in France each year, offering wine lovers the first red wines from the year's harvest.

"Our 2009 Merlot lent itself to a light, easy drinking wine," said winemaker Tiny van Niekerk.

"We are continually being asked for wines suitable to the KZN summer conditions, and our Clariet blanc de noir proved to be a very popular wine at braais or at social functions around the pool.

"The Midlands Nouveau, which is a light bodied dry red wine, is intended to be served well chilled, and offers elements of dark fruits, plum, strawberry, cherries ands raspberry notes on the nose and palate.

"I have been bowled over by the response to this first vintage of the Midlands Nouveau," said Van Niekerk. "I was optimistic that it would suit the KZN climate and lifestyle, but based on the response to the experiment it will definitely be a regular feature of ours."

"It's a red wine for white wine lovers, or for those looking for something more substantial than a rose," Van Niekerk added.The wine has struck a chord with wine experts as well.

"Pleasant and gulpable, (it) has potential for a good uncomplicated everyday drinking" enthused well known sommelier Miguel Chan.

At the recent Durban Day concert at the Botanic Gardens wine lovers were given the opportunity to try the new product, and it sold out inside an hour as the hot weather conditions provided an ideal platform for the new wines relevance.

Similarly visitors to The Stables Wine Estate outside Nottingham Road have fallen for the chilled red wine, with the 375ml bottles of the wine proving to be as popular as the conventional sized 750ml bottles.

"The balance of our Merlot we left on the vine to ripen, which will produce a traditional full-bodied red wine that will be barrel matured and released some time in the future," said van Niekerk.

"It is exciting to be able to turn around a red wine in such a short space of time, and to get the overwhelming response that we have had to the Midlands Nouveau.

"The Beaujoulais Nouveau tradition was born in France in 1951, when the government for the first time allowed Beaujolais estates to sell their wines one month ahead of the rest in the county.

At present the annual release of the Beaujoulais Nouveau just after midnight on the third Thursday of November triggers a frenzy worldwide, and roughly 50% of the sixty million bottles produced are exported out of France.

The light, easy drinking red wine is intended for immediate consumption and not for cellar maturation, offering a glimpse into the characteristics that can be expected from the other red wines from that vintage which are generally subject to further wood maturation before being released.

First Group Sommelier for Southern Sun Hotels

Article courtesy of

First group sommelier for Southern Sun

For the first time, Southern Sun has employed a group sommelier to standardise the wines available at the group's hotels and to introduce exceptional wines to the wines currently on offer.

Mauritian-born Miguel Chan has worked in both Mauritius and South Africa and is involved in various publications and committees involved in the wine industry, including the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, Santam Classic Wine Trophy, Wine magazine and Platter South African Wine Guide 2010.

He is also a long-time tasting co-ordinator for the Swiss Airlines International Wine Awards. Certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, he represented South Africa at the world final of the Concours International des Jeunes Sommeliers in Frankfurt in 2007 and writes his own blog for sommeliers.

To rival the best

“We are extremely privileged to have a sommelier of Miguel's experience and calibre working with us towards creating a world-class wine and beverage experience in our hotels. Miguel will work with the teams in the various hotels to ensure that our food and beverage offerings in our hotels rival the best locally and internationally and that our wine lists showcase the diversity and superb quality of South African wines” said Mike Uphof, director of operations for Southern Sun's Deluxe hotels.

“South Africa has the oldest soil structure on earth, a legacy of the pre-historic Gondwana continent, with a diversity of terroir, macro, micro and subterranean climate. My aim will be to introduce and showcase these intriguing nuances to discerning South African and international wine connoisseurs and hotel visitors”, said Chan.

[2 Oct 2009 12:47]

Miguel Chan, Certified Sommelier on Classic FM

Classic fM - 102.7 FM
Classic Business with John Fraser & Miguel Chan, Group Sommelier: Southern Sun, Tony Twine: Econometrix, Jeremy Sampson, Executive Chairman: Interbrand

1949 KWV Port 92 Points

1949 KWV Port 92 Points

Medium clear, mahogany hue with fine sediment in suspension, clean, medium high intensity, tertiary character, with quite a strong spirity whiff when freshly poured, touch oxidative and volatile, but in check, showing age and evolution, complex motes of treacle, raision, caramel, sundried stone fruit, complex, with earthy notes and cinnamon spice.

Much sweeter than modern version Cape fortified style wine, however the acidity was bright, fresh and lively, who whould have guest that at 60 years old! complex texture with a tobacco, cigar ash grip, very good lenght, still drinking very well, perfect with brownies.

Certified as wine of origin Boberg, which is the fortified tringle area of the old days, roughly the production vineyard of Paarl, Wellington and Tulbagh.

This is a living testament that South African fortified style wine can indeed mature very well and KWV is a classsic when it comes to that style, underated and a must try. Well done, sweet wines is one of South Africa's greatest assets. Perfect pairings with a chocolate brownie.
Now util 2020+

Inimitable Miguel Chan

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick Viewwine by the inimitable Miguel Chan. The certified sommelier takes me down to the cellar and chats knowledgeably about some of the rare wines he's ...

2005 Spier Bluegum Merlot 77 Points

Spier Bluegum 2005 Merlot 77 Points
Ripe plums, minty, touch earthy, some tomato leaf character, now until 2012.
Another confirmation of South Africa's inability of producing decent acceptable Merlot of world class appeal, caveat emptor.

2005 Spier Private Collection 77+ Points

Spier Private Collection 2005 Pinotage 77+ Points
Plum, burnt rubber, sour cherry notes, lacking fruit concentration and depth, savoury and earthy farewell, now until 2012

2007 Koelfontein Chardonnay 85 Points

2007 Koelfontein Ceres Chardonnay 85 Points

Tasted last night, not as striking and complex as the 2005 (88+ points), which was very Burgundian, nevertheless it is a good effort with enough substance, could have attained higher rating if the alcohol was not as powerful, 14.3 % alc /vol and slightly disturbing on the aromatics, and the oak could be tone down, 9 months in French oak, which will give a better definition of the fruit concentration.

A mélange of pineapple glace, honey dew melon and caramelised citrus segments.

The palate is fresh with vibrant acidity, leesy complexity and a rather rich and creamy nutty mid palate, good length, this is the only South African Chardonnay certified as Wine of Origin Ceres, a scenic fruit farming valley about 180 km north east of Cape Town on a rather high plateau and sandy soil, spectacular in winter with majestic snowfall, a region also famous for cherry picking between November to January as well as a rainbow trout fly fisherman heaven.

This chardonnay showcase a site and vine harmony, however it’s either due to inexperience winemaking or intentional delay in picking, which is unnecessary and mishandling of oak, it’s definitely a wine to watch as greatness could and can be achieve with more though in the vineyard and less interventionist approach in the cellar.

Drink now until 2014

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spier Private Collection 2005 Shiraz 79+ Points

Spier Private Collection 2005 Shiraz 79+ Points
Toasty, charry sweet fruit, some volatile acidity evident, lean fruit, confected oak character, now until 2013

Spier Private Collection 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 78 Points

Spier Private Collection 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 78 Points
Ripe tomato aromas, too much alcohol overshadowing ripe blackcurrant fruit, earthy, lacking fruit texture, some dry tannins, has the symptom of virused vineyard fruit, now until 2014

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Dear friends,
Just a quick note to re-assure everyone that my blog will be updated soon.
Since relocating to Johannesburg and taking up the new challenge as Sommelier for Southern Sun hotels, it's been rather hectic adjusting to the new life and challenges, however, I have keep the same pace of tasting new products whenever time allows, hence there are over 400 tasting notes I have accumulated in the last 3 months, which I need to share with you, watch this space, thank you for your patience and to the 100's of email I have receive from all over the world, thanks for your support and understanding, it's going to be a bumper edition / post about the latest release South African Wines.

From the next posting I will start posting sub 85 points wines as I now believe the consumer and you Sommeliers friends, need to be aware of and once and for all bad and lazy winemaking practice, couple with wrong site selection and winemaker arrogance and huge ego, need to be exposed, so that going forward we all have better wines in our glass for the simple enjoyment of life.


Miguel Chan
Certified Sommelier
Johannesburg South Africa

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flagstone Winery Fiona Pinot Noir

2006 Flagstone Winery Fiona Pinot Noir 86 Points

One of the most individual and captivating Pinot I have ever tasted from the Cape.

Refined, complex, multilayered, soft and silky tannins, lovely clean pure Pinot fruit, lingering earthy and hints of truffle aftertaste, now until 2012

Unfortunately the 2007 vintage was not as striking and somehow suggest a change in style,

Eagles Nest Shiraz 2005

2005 Eagles Nest Constantia Shiraz 85 Points

Typical moderate climate Shiraz character, ripe blueberries and hints of wet soil, austere initially on the nose, then lead pencil character emerge after a while, along with freshly roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate, medium acidity prominent, but will integrate with time around 2010.

Fruit pack palate, tannins is ripe and rounded, peppery finish.

Lay down now, or enjoy with a rare aged gemsbok or springbok fillet, rubbed with Asian spice and prune and brandy sauce, worth revisiting in mid / end 2009, will drink well until 2013.

Porcupine Ridge blends

Porcupine Ridge Viognier – Grenache Blanc 2007 85 Points

Delicately fragrant, with subtle notes of fleshy white peach, dry straw, nectarines and hints of jasmine, fairly complex aromas.

Well defined acidity lends freshness, slight lanolin oiliness, mid palate well structured, which is so welcoming (it’s one of the major weaknesses of most SA white wines…..) elegant and refined, could be mistaken in a blind tasting with a White Rhône blends from 2003…..has length and savouriness, charming food wine………fine until 2011

Porcupine Ridge Shiraz Viognier 2007 87 Points

Powerful aromas of ripe mulberries, cassis and red fruit medley, intermingle with slight smokiness and paprika dust, complex, ripe fruit follows through, more Rhône than New World in style, drier on palate than nose suggest, with a salty / seaweedy (almost like Nori sheet) complexity, lends intrigue, delicate, fresh, structured and complex aftertaste, well done. Interesting and exciting.

Tasted in May 2008

Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 and Chenin Blanc 2007

2007 Lazanou Organic Wellington Chardonnay 72+ Points

Brilliant, bright, scintillating superb clarity and color for a chardonnay, discreet nose, austere, straw like character, suggesting sun burned and stressed fruit.

Crisp, uncomplex, lacking palate definition and chardonnay fruit, structure and charm, thin, lean, acidity out of balance, now until 2010

2007 Lazanou Organic Wellington Chenin Single Vineyard 80 Points

Ripe citrus peel / zest / oil, sun ripe golden delicious apples aromas, simple uncomplex palate, some ripe fruit character, follows through, but lacking charm and concentration, dusty oak character slightly disturbing, now until 2012+

Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 2006

2006 Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir Western Cape 85+ Points

Quite a pronounce whiff of red berry yoghurt, alcohol slightly burning, might or might not integrate with time, distinct mentholly / clove almost eucalyptus freshness, but not overpowering.

Earthy, typical complex Pinot aromas, tight bracing acidity, will need +/- 4 years to integrate, still in primary fruit phase, delicate texture, clean, some ripe tannins grip along with hints of sweet and sour Morello cherry on the palate, excellent food wine, will definitely get more complex with time. Cellar for +/- 3 years, revisit around 2011+ and drink until 2016+.

Tasted on the 01 / 02 / 2008

Clones : 113, 115, 667, 777,

Oak : 15 % New Oak, Burgundian coopers, 12 months

Origin : Durbanville & Darling

Edgebaston Finlayson Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

2006 Edgebaston Finlayson Family Vineyards Stellenbosch 83 Points

Morello cherry red, with a slight brown / russet rim ?? quite advanced for a 2006.

Dusty, earthy, cedar and lead pencil as initial whiff, blackcurrant, touch ethereal slightly distracting, hints of new wood varnish / polish, some note of ripe red peppers adds interest.

Cabernet austerity evident, tight ripe tannin, still integrating, very tight complex structure, needing +/- 4 years to integrate, however a lingering oil pips bitterness evident, will it integrate ??

Some savoury texture adds complexity, from 2012 until 2015

The Berrio Western Cape Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

2005 The Berrio Western Cape Cabernet Sauvignon 82 Points

Cherry red with a russet rim already for a 2005 ??

Mature, evolved, gamey nose, tertiary earthiness and hints of dark mushroom, too much browning of colour for a 2005.

Savoury, cherry / cassis note, tight tannins, still integrating, medium to full bodied, honest Cabernet, good length and aftertaste.

From now until 2012, if you are not deterred by the brown colour.
Tasted 12 July 2008

Rainbow's End Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

2007 Rainbow’s End Banhoek Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 81+ Points

Cherry red with a slight russet rim.

Fragrant cassis, cedar, blueberry, and raspberry coulis, touch of minty complexity and high alcohol burn ??

Typical Cabernet tightness some walnut greenness, otherwise medium bodied, and elegant, some bitterness in the aftertaste, might integrate with time….now until 2012
Tasted 12 July 2008

Edgebaston The Pepper Pot 2007

2007 Edgebaston The Pepper Pot Stellenbosch 87 Points

Bright cherry red, very good clarity, brilliant, almost like a Pinot Noir colour density.

Earthy, ripe cherry pip like of aromas, complex with subtle note of sweet spices medley. Heady aromas of Kirsch like along with ripe red berries.

Clean aromas, enticing / intellectual, crisp, red fruits character follows through, salty like savouriness, very fresh, fantastic fine food wine, spicy mouth filling texture, can be mislead as a Pinot Noir in a blind tasting.

Madiran like austerity / restrained on the palate, Tannat evident,some hints of bitterness will integrate with time +/- 3 years. Perfect oaking.

Very fine debut of quite an original blend, of 64 % Mourvedre, 30 % Tannat & 6 % Syrah, definitely a concept to watch, I am confident as vine mature, could well attained a 90+ if meticulous winemaking is maintained.

Tasted 18 July 2008

Rainbow's End Complexité 2004

2004 Rainbow's End Complexité Stellenbosch 77+ Points

Old Cape Style, stewed red fruits, rustic. earthy, pronounced acetone character, stewed/baked red fruits followed through, too much acidity, and the fruit is not enough to support the dry bitter tannin finish, too much extraction, now until 2010.

Mount Rozier Merlot Cabernet blend 2004

2004 Mount Rozier Merlot Cabernet Western Cape 76 Points

Pale cherry red with slight russet rim, high alcohol, varnish aromas, meaty, gamey and ripe. Sharp texture, earthy along with sharp acidity, drink now until 2010

Rainbow's End Stellenbosch Merlot 2007

2007 Rainbow’s End Single Vineyard Merlot Banhoek Stellenbosch 80+ Points

Dark cherry red with a bright purple rim, excellent clarity, rarely encountered in a Cape Merlot.

Fragrant, plum touch of earth lends Old World austerity with some notes of fruity aromas more reminiscent of a Chilean Merlot, than Cape……

Some lead pencil minerality, ripe mulberries sweetness, tight acidity quite overpowering, lacking Merlot flesh (It’s more of a Cape Merlot characteristic than bad winemaking) otherwise savoury juicy plum, delicate tannins needs 2 years for integration, some note of salty minerality.

The best attribute about this Merlot was the very positive colour concentration, more Pomerol / St Emillion than New World.

Now until 2014

Mount Rozier Julian Merlot

2004 Mount Rozier Julian Stellenbosch Merlot 78 Points

Brick red with a touch of copper hue, meaty gamey, showing tertiary character along with notes of cigar and tobacco, notes of “Bovril / Marmite”, dark chocolate, earthy, complex, but varnish nose distract, delicate ripe tannins, shows maturation, too evolved for further ageing.
Tasted 12 July 2008

Rose Garden Vineyards Paarl Pinot Noir 2006

2006 Rose Garden Vineyards Paarl Pinot Noir 65 Points

Too dark for Pinot, lacking clarity and brilliance, has a shiraz fragrance and meaty Mourvedre character, sweet, lacking Pinot elegance, herbal aftertaste.
Tasted 01 April 2008

Hoopenburg Pinot Noir 2006

2006 Hoopenburg Pinot Noir 76 Points

Bright, vivid cherry red, sweet boiled beetroot, touch of earthy character and hints of wild mushroom, alcohol slightly disturbing and burning (14.5 alc/vol).

Palate texture shows green cherry tartness, lacking fleshy fruit and elegance of good Pinot, definitely over acidified, uncomplex, acid dominate and sulphur burn.

Tasted 17 July 2008

Frostline Jack & Knox Swartberg Weisser Riesling 2007

2007 Frostline Jack & Knox Swartberg Weisser Riesling 82+ Points

Austere, reductive, with faint hint of green lime with aeration, green herbs almost pyrazine type of Sauvignon character, and green peas, some floral notes as the wine warm up.

Tight structure, ripe lemon with well defined acidity, some oiliness and mid palate weight, touch of phenolic bitterness, fine well made, but not as striking as in previous vintages. Now until 2012

Tasted 12 July 2008

Grangehurst Rosé 2006

2006 Grangehurst Rosé Stellenbosch 76+ Points

Earthy, white mushroom dust, hints of dried strawberry petal.

Earthy characters follows on the palate, dry, uncomplex, good quaffing, perfect summertime lunch wine.

Fine balance between oxidative and reductive style, now until 2010

Blend of Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet, Chenin and Shiraz.

14 % back blending from 2007 vintage for freshness.

Tasted 17 July 2008

The Berrio Elim Sauvignon Blanc 2007

2007 The Berrio Elim Sauvignon Blanc 81 Points

Talc, green pepper, green lime, ripe and textured, some mid palate complexity intermingle with sea salt minerality, elegant, with racy custard apple like acidity, salty minerality follows through on the aftertaste, will be a great compliment to oysters. Now until 2011.
Tasted 12 July 2008

Edgebaston Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Edgebaston Finlayson Family Vineyards Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 77 Points

Pale straw with a slight geen tinge, shy with Sancerre like austerity, hints of white pepper and green fig.

Crisp, green lime texture, soft acids with honeyed notes on mid palate, delicate texture, but somehow lacking weight and Sauvignon gravity…good pleasant aftertaste, but not lingering.

Could there be a hint of oak in the wine ?? as some faint notes of vanilla and coconut like, perceptible, now until 2010

Tasted 18 July 2008

Rainbow's End Shiraz

Rainbow's End Single Vineyard Shiraz 2005 - Banhoek Stellenbosch 82+ Points

Smoky, toffee, intense, chocolate and ripe red berries medley, complex, earthy, lavender, rose and hints of violets.

Dry tannins, slightly green, has fruit to support for now and next 5 years, delicate, elegant, savoury freshness, slight hard bitter aftertaste, has potential.

A winery to watch.
Tasted November 2007

2006 Rainbow's End Single Vineyard Shiraz Banhoek Stellenbosch 82+ Points

2007 Rainbow’s End Single Vineyard Shiraz Banhoek Stellenbosch 81+ Points
Same beautiful and saturated purple as their 2007 Merlot…….good clarity, dense, complex, fragrant red berry and clean.

Spicy Shiraz aromas, extrovert and ripe, balanced acidity lends freshness and fruit still integrating.

Spicy texture, broad palate but somehow condensed, some sweet fruit, perfect oaking, from 2010 until 2013.

Good vintage reflection.

Tasted 12 July 2008

Wedderwill Shiraz 2004

2004 Wedderwill Shiraz Stellenbosch 74+ Points

Cherry red with good clarity, meaty and gamey structure, shows evolution, delicate profile, but somehow lean and uncomplex, now until 2010
Tasted 12 July 2008

Camberley Shiraz 2007

2007 Camberley, Stellenbosch Shiraz 83 Points

Ripe mulberries, prunes, toast and smoke, hints of black pepper, complex, fragrant, some burning sensation due to high alcohol, tight, lead pencil minerality, earthy, juicy sour plums and some savoury note, a winery to follow if they produce more elegant and less alcohol driven wines.
Have structure and potential to last until 2014
Tasted 02 April 2008

Rhebokskloof Syrah 2006

2006 Rhebokskloof Syrah 85 Points

Deep crimson purple red, slightly cloudy, could do with more clarity and brightness for Syrah.

Typical Shiraz than Syrah nose, opulent, complex, multilayered and inviting aromas of roast, smoke and toast. Ripe and juicy, smooth, elegant, medium intensity, good structure, with savoury notes of dry rosemary and black olives, well made.

Now with decanting or cellared until 2014

Tasted 19 October 2008

Deetlefs Estate and Familie Riesling

Deetlefs Estate and Familie Riesling

2006 Deetlefs Estate Familie Rhine Riesling 87+ Points

Harvested from a single vineyard block of the oldest vine on the estate, grown on extremely pebbly soil.

This Riesling is a statement of what can be made in Breedekloof Wards with its cool climate and extremely poor soil.

Dry style, with flinty, crunchy minerality and very subtle citrus fruit and elderflower, with more precision, this Riesling can be World class, there is a very fine effort behind, whcih should be applauded.
From now until 2014

2007 Deetlefs Estate Weisser Riesling 85 Points

Unknown to most wine fundis, Breedekloof is actually 5 degrees Celsius cooler than the highest Stellenbosch vineyard in summer.

This Mosel style Riesling with a hint of sugar and botrytis, shows superb concentration of fruit and steely acidity, medium bodied, extremely well crafted Riesling. Beautiful food wine and very well priced, from experience of older vintages, Deetlefs Riesling does improved with cellaring and are quite complex at around 6 years from vintage, a very good Riesling off the beaten track tobe discovered.

Paul Cluver Estate Pinot Noir Vertical 1997 - 2006

About Paul Cluver Pinot Noir

I have tasted vertical, but for unexplained reason never rated them, but the following is excerpt from my tasting note book, will start rating with the 2008 vintage.

Paul Cluver Estate Elgin Pinot Noir shows very good colour retention across all vintage, along with one of the best pinot structure as well as longevity, found in the Cape.

Elegance and subtle extraction is a hallmark, ripe tannin, always needing time to integrate, there never a sign o thinness, dilution or greenness and the pinot is never acidified, which is a rare feat in Cape perspective, this is Pinot Noir made with respect and to be enjoyed with fine foods and good sophisticated company.

The following food suggestions will work very well with the Paul Cluver Estate Pinot Noir :

Canard a L’Orange
Coq au vin
Pan fried or grilled yellowtail or tuna
Charcuteries, such as saucisson and aired cured ham
Mild venison such as springbok
Salt and pepper slow roasted duck

1997 – Slightly gamey, typical pinot complexity
1998 – Complex notes of truffles, raspberries, very elegant mouth feels
2000 – Minty and eucalyptus, still tight, but will show all the hallmark of above
2001- Burgundian profile, grainy tannins, very good potential
2002 – Lovely red fruit with dark mushroom and forest floor character
2003 – Showy with toasty element predominate delicate fruit, more New World in style, very good purity.
2004 – Restraint, candied cherry note, good concentration
2006 – Tight structure, only 20% new wood, will be sumptuous by 2012, slow developer.

Delaire Winery

Delaire Red blend 2006 84+ Points

Dark red slight russet rim, fragrant blackcurrant with lead pencil minerality, spicy, complex earthy, toasty and smoky note. Fresh, savoury with dry tannin, touch too extracted, otherwise good balance with spicy warm texture, juicy, mouth filling, had elegance, if the acidity was not as prominent it would have been a fine effort, now until 2015

Blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon – 32% Merlot – 11% Petit Verdot – 9% Shiraz – 4% Cabernet Franc – 1% Malbec

Delaire Chardonnay 2007 83 Points

Bright straw, Chablis like austerity, green pears and lime.

Crisp, intense mouth filling good crunch, very delicate oaking, but touch on the unripe side.
Now until 2014

Delaire Sauvignon Blanc 2008 76+ Points

Fermentation character evident, with bubble gum and banana peel like. Austere and touch subdued with hints of gooseberry and lime.

Light texture, fresh, but somewhat lacking intensity and texture, now until 2012.

The above are well made wine for everyday drinking at home, but not into the mould of listing from a restaurant or fine dining perspective.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Glenelly 2003 & 2004

This 57ha vineyard in Stellenbosch, Simonsberg ward is owned by Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, former owner of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.

This shows the potential of South Africa as a great winemaking nation to be, when investor of that calibre, buys in.

The 2 vintage below are big, juicy, ripe and massively built to last at least 12 years from vintage, the wines are made by Luke O’Cuinneagain, the wines are certified as Wine of Origin Western Cape, because the grapes use are both from Stellenbosch and Cape Agulhas.

2003 Glenelly 87 Points
Deep, concentrated / opaque ruby red with slight purple rim.

Ripe, complex intensity of blackcurrants, tar, smoke, powerful and multidimensional.

Massive structure, tight ripe tannins, savoury opulence, acidity still integrating, spicy with touch bitterness on warming aftertaste, need +/- 3 years to integrate (2012), thereafter will drink until 2017

44% Cabernet Sauvignon – 28% Merlot – 24% Shiraz – 4% Pinotage

2004 Glenelly 87+ Points
Dark red cherry red, with good brilliance.

Initially austere, but with aeration reveal notes of dark red fruit and dark chocolate, earthy complexity, along with softer more massaged ripe tannins than 2003.

Elegant, delicate mouth feels, with notes of ripe cherries, but need time to reveal it’s true potential, this time the acidity is better managed as well as the alcohol. From 2011 until 2017.

57% Shiraz – 33% Cabernet Sauvignon – 10% Merlot

L'Avenir Grand Vin Chenin Blanc 2007

L’Avenir Grand Vin Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard 2007 89+ Points

Clear, pale brilliant gold, medium concentration, the high viscosity concentration is just gorgeous, saturated legs to coat the glass.

Clean, low plus intensity, shy, Old World restraint, with slight oxidative / wild yeast and note of resin and pine needles earthiness, dry straw, very pure and well defined with subtle and delicate note of citrus oil / zest, white peach, ripe red apples, hints of raspberry fruitiness, excellent purity.

Dry, medium plus acidity, medium alcohol, new flavours of delicate French toast and hints of cinnamon spices, saturated mid palate, structured, crunchy, intense lemony freshness, leesy complexity and weight, intermingle with sappy / stalky freshness, in a delicate and very positive elegant way.

Medium plus complexity, long honeyed, with touch of botrytis lanolin richness in aftertaste, good expression of old vine Chenin grown in a warm climate, such as Stellenbosch.

Need +/- 3 years to integrate, start enjoying (for the patient ones) from 2012+ until 2017.

This maiden vintage of a single vineyard ( 2.87 ha) Chenin Blanc is amongst the oldest in Stellenbosch, planted in 1976, showcase the strength and potential of South African Chenin Blanc amongst the finest white wines of the world, a must try under any circumstances, it’s a celebration of Old World elegance, with vibrant New World fruitiness.

L'Avenir Brut Rosé Méthode Cap Classique 2007

L’Avenir Brut Rosé Méthode Cap Classique 2007 85+ Points

Medium clear, pale bright salmon / bronze / russet hue.

Fine tiny bubbles, medium concentration, low plus viscosity, but surprisingly coating and “oily".

Clean, medium intensity, matured yeasty autolysis character coming forth, over the earthy fruitiness, with rather pronounced pink grapefruit skin freshness and hints of young berry.

Very dry, ultra brut style, crisp and lively, the fruit perceived comfirmed on the palate, tight, racy and nervous structure, need time to assimilate, medium plus acidity, medium plus complexity and medium alcohol.

Blend of 50% Pinotage – 40% Chenin Blanc & 10% Chardonnay, second fermentation in bottle, 18 months on lees, maiden vintage, excellently priced compare to other customer favourite and bigger run of the mill brands, drink well now as a great aperitif or with delicate seafood tomato based pasta or smoked salmon, but will gain more complexity if cellar under optimum condition. ery fine debut, hope it will stay that way.
Now until 2014.

The High Road

2006 The High Road Reserve 81 Points

Medium clear, ruby red, slight brown russet rim, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium intensity, powerful, complex notes of blackcurrant, cassis, earthy cigar box, new small French oak evident.

Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus not too ripe tannins, juicy, medium plus alcohol, quite powerful structure, fresh, crisp mouth feels, slight bitterness on finish, a style that will have it’s followers locally.

Might not be ideal for fine dining listing, but will be great the next time you head to your favourite steak house, will complement a wide range of flame grilled meat.

Blend of 62.5% Cabernet Sauvignon – 30% Merlot - 7.5% Cabernet Franc – 100% Stellenbosch grapes – 12 months in 225 French oak

From 2010, until 2016

2006 The High Road Classique 86+ Points

Clear, ruby / garnet red, with slight brown rim.

Medium plus concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, powerful.

Fragrant cassis, currants, hints of raisin, complex.

Dry, flavours follow through, juicy, medium acidity, medium tannins, fresh delicate mouth feels, with lead pencil minerality, will integrated with the dusty earthy core.
Medium plus complexity, massage tannins, subtle, but need +/- 3 years to integrate (2012), will drink well until 2017

Perfect for sophisticated drinking, and to those that only swear by Bordeaux style blend, when dining out for a very special dinner, I wish there could be more South African Bordeaux style of that quality and price on the market.

A very fine and very good value Cape Bordeaux style blend, far better exciting and delivering more drinking complexity and enjoyment, than a lot of supposedly well established Bordeaux style, self assessed cult status, at twice or three times the price. Well done, keep it that way.

Blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon – 32 % Merlot – 6% Cabernet Franc

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pinot Noir from New Zealand and Tasmania

2004 Isabel Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 77+ Points
Riper Marlborough style overt asparagus, have shed some of it’s primary aromatic, good length. Drink now

2004 Seresin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 82+ Points
Discreet, sweet, ripe pepper, hints of quince. Intense ripe citrus mouth feels, well complimented by soft acidity, good integration,, well rounded, juicy profile with hints of caramel on finish, now until 2010
3 % French oak mature – 3 % Semillon, blend of five vineyards

2005 Dog Point Marlborough Pinot Noir 82 Points
Fragrant, toasty, lovely ripe summer berries, hints of farmyard and wet earth, soft delicate flavours and through, acidity slightly on the high side, overpowering delicate fruit and oak integration, nevertheless a fine Pinot, that will drink well until 2012.
3rd vintage, Pinot sourced from a variety of vineyard, some 30 years old on free draining silty clay loams.

2005 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 82 Points
Discreet, more subdued, but typical Pinot, alcohol slightly overpowering, good restraint, earthy, fresh, classy feel, slight bitterness on finish, will the dusty oak character integrate ?? Now until 2012

2001 Mount Edwards Central Otago Pinot Noir 80 Points
Evolved, tertiary phase, sweet, hints of farmyardy character, hung game, ripe red fruit, straw like, meaty, Bovril character, tea leaf scents, now until 2010. Blend of Gibson and Alexandia fruit, ow cropped, basket pressed.

2000 La Strada Marlborough Pinot Noir Clayvin Vineyards 70 Points
Made in association with Fromm winery, single vineyard, unfiltered, showing ripe fruit verging on porty character as well as vegetal note, sharp acidity, touch VA, fruit fading, the overripe character follows through, now until 2010

2000 Voss Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 72+ Points
Sweet and sour cherries, alcohol overpowering, vanilla yogurt character, and sour milk aftertaste, now until 2010
15% new oak, roughly 3 ton per ha, alluvial soil, 30 meters above sea level, 330 mm of rain in growing season.

2000 Rippon Central Otago Pinot Noir 85 Points
Fresh classic feel, game, leather and earthy note, preserved Maraschino cherries, flavours follow through, good balance, fruit holding very well, long complex finish, now until 2011.
Lightly filtered, 35 % new oak, 10 month, 330 meters above sea level on shores of Lake Wanaka, the world most beautiful vineyard setting, Schist based soil, biodynamic farming, 600 ml annual rain

1999 Pipers Brook Tasmania, Australia Pinot Noir 77+ Points
Cool feel red fruit, almost kind of minty freshness, gamey, farmyardy and earthy, bit thin on the palate, acidity overpowering, finishes of note of sour cherries, now until 2010
Pinot Noir from Piper River, wine region on North coast, pioneered close planted VSP in Australia, 12 month in French oak.

2005 Domaine Assmannhausen Rheingau Spatburgunder

2005 Domaine Assmannshausen, Assmannhauser Hollenberg Spatburgunder Trocken, Rheingau 87+ Points

Fragrant raspberries, strawberries and dark cherries. Intense complexities, earthy, multilayered, delicate soft structure, complex mouth feels, silky, typical Pinot Noir charm, complexity and delicacy, ethereal. Now until 2013

Chianti Classico Riserva revisited

2001 Selvapiana Chianti Classico Riserva 83 Points
Gamey, malty, complex dry meat, evolved, dry cherry pip, mentholly freshness, fruit drying out, now until 2013.
Rufina district, single vineyard

2001 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo 78+ Points
Game, truffles, with earthy note, touch thin in structure, fruit fading, short uncomplex finish, but the tannin will keep it drinking until 2011
Same winemaker since 1980, 62 ha, in top Panzano district. Single vineyard, 90 % Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

2001 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva 83 Points
Riper, denser, with complex notes of cherries, hint of toasty character, seamless integration of tannins, long elegant length, now until 2012
Terroir driven sites, very hilly, chalky clay soil with pebble and gravel, +/- 500 metres above sea level, 3000 vines per ha, planted in 64 and 78.

2001 La Masa Chianti Classico Riserva 85+ Points
Ripe cherry, fruit cake, intense and complex earthy note, white almond oil, light bodied, dry soft tannin, now until 2017
Modern style with 10% merlot, 18 month French barrique, 30 new, TA 4.8

2000 Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 88+ Points

Riper denser, hints of eucalyptus, intermingle with sweet fruited earthy character, seamless integration of oak, fruity, fresh acidity, gentle, but complex structure, now until 2017, 90 % Sangiovese, 10% Camailoa

1999 La Masa Chianti Classico Riserva 86+ Points
Restrained, sweet maraschino, cherry with complex minty character, very pure ripe red fruit, delicate Old Chianti style, drier than nose suggest, has grip and elegance, food style by elegance. Now until 2017

1999 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 89 Points

Fantastic clarity and brilliance, very ripe, massively build, sumptuous concentration and delicate extract, ripe structure, with perfect tannic grip, lots of fruit and oak, needs time from 2014 until 2020
11 month oaked, 30% new, 5.8 TA

1998 Querciabella Chianti Classico Riserva 78+ Points
Gamey, with Brett evidence, evolved, ripe cherries, typical Italian red feel, but no more, now until 2010

1997 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 86 Points

Ripe, round and creamy tannins, elegant mouth feels, subtle fruit, fresh and delicate, need food from now until 2017.
Situated in Greve, started in 1974, 250 ha, biodynamic, been in same family for 26 generations, first vintage in 1385.

On the issue of Residual Sugar in Cape wines
if only South African winemakers can make more red in that style, with less Residual sugar, then the marketers can start talking of listing in fine dining……….. why leave residual sugar?

To compensate for wrong site selection, lazy viticultural work and complacent wine making?

Only time will tell, how wine buyers either are going to support this laxism and let the pandemic grow, or send a strong message, in order for wine makers to understand that if they want their wines to show well with fine food, as they are making fine wine, then the sugar needs to go down, who wants to have a chocolate tart or kola tonic cordial with their beef filet………….

Friday, June 19, 2009

2004 Sylvanvale Vineyards Pinotage 76 Points

2004 Sylvanvale Vineyards Pinotage 76 Points
Fairly intense with notes of minty eucalyptus, medium bodied, light structure. Now until 2010.

2004 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Pinotage 81 Points

2004 Koelenbosch Pinotage 81 Points
Quite intense, delicate ripe red berries, good aromatic dimension, medium bodied, well balanced acidity, oak and tannin in harmony, but fruit somehow subdued, which prohibit higher rating. Now until 2010

2004 Stellenbosch Hills Pinotage 81 Points

2004 Stellenbosch Hills Pinotage 81 Points

Fragrant delicate red fruit, hints of coffee and toast. More Pinot than Pinotage, not overly complex, fresh, but somehow lacking intensity and richness on palate. Now until 2010

2003 and 2004 Meerendal Pinotage

2004 Meerendal Estate Durbanville Pinotage 88 Points
Intense ripe red berries, almost minty eucalyptus, complex.

Powerful structure, ripe and round tannins, creamy texture, tight needs time, for rich fruitcake to merge.
Spicy long lasting aftertaste. From now until 2014.

2003 Meerendal Estate Durbanville Pinotage 81 Points
Discreet and less powerful, subtle, but complex, more elegant and refined, slight mintiness and bitterness, peppery, dry finish. Now until 2010

2005 Durbanville Hills Pinotage 86 Points

2005 Durbanville Hills Pinotage 86 Points

Intense ripe mulberries, toasty, fragrant smoke, sweet spices, creamy strawberry yogurt, juicy, complex mouth feel, fresh, well define fruit, ripe and rounded tannins, elegant ripe structure.
Now until 2011

2004 Wamakersvallei Bains Way Pinotage 75 Points

2004 Wamakersvallei Bains Way Pinotage 75 Points
Ripe red fruit, alcohol slightly overpowering, some herbaceous note, spicy, peppery with hard dry tannins, short aftertaste. Now until 2010

2004 Chamonix Franschhoek Pinotage 74 Points

2004 Chamonix Franschhoek Pinotage 74 Points
Typical Pinotage feel, ripe plums, touch burnt rubber and farmyard, lean soft red fruits, old wood evident, peppery and tannic, green tannins evident, will the bitterness integrate ? moderately intense on finish. Now until 2010

2006 Fairview Coastal Region Pinotage 85+ Points

2006 Fairview Coastal Region Pinotage 85+ Points
Complex nose of creamy dark chocolate, smoke and paprika dust, hints of meat jus adds interest, soft delicate bramble fruit, juicy, ripe and soft tannins.
Now until 2013.

2003 Fairview Primo Pinotage 59 Points

2003 Fairview Primo Pinotage 59 Points

Unfortunately another casualty of Brettanomyces, very prominent, did not purchase another bottle for re-taste

2003 Rose Garden Paarl Pinotage 76 Points

2003 Rose Garden Pinotage 76 Points
Typical Pinotage ripe plums with prominent bananas, quite fragrant and flowery, good savouriness, but vegetal structure lingers. Now until 2010

Kleine Draken Paarl Pinotage

2004 Kleine Draken Pinotage 72 Points
Very ripe almost vintage port aromas of ripe red fruits, soft texture, flabby, lacking freshness, lean structure, short aftertaste. Drink now

2003 Kleine Draken Pinotage 69 Points
Fragrant Sencha tea, ripe red fruits, old wood austerity, quite evolved, earthy, vegetal and stalky. Drink now

Simonsig Wine Estate Stellenbosch Pinotage

2004 Simonsig Pinotage 81 Points
Ripe plums, quite intense aromatic, hints of seaweedy and acetone. Soft delicate red fruit follows through, light structure, but everything in harmony, dry spicy aftertaste.
Now until 2010

2003 Simonsig Pinotage 79 Points
Typical pinotage plumy character, hints of acetone like, delicate red fruit, soft texture, savoury, slight bitterness on finish, simple, now until 2010

2004 Stanford Hills Winery Walker Bay Pinotage 86 Points

2004 Stanford Hills Jackson’s Pinotage Walker Bay 86 Points

Brilliant cherry red, subtle nose of ripe plums with hints of coffee, very clean and pure, almost a Burgundian elegance to it.
Spicy, quite rich, clean soft ripe tannins, lots of freshness, well structured, almost a Pinot Noir feel.
There is a trait emerging in Walker Bay Pinotage, they showcase the Pinot side, more feminine, rather than the coarse Cinsaut profile and this is very exciting
Now until 2015.

2003 Kaapzicht Estate Stellenbosch Pinotage 75 Points

2003 Kaapzicht Estate Pinotage 75 Points

Marmite with milk chocolate, complex gaminess, sweet fruit intermingle with American oak, simple, uncomplicated enjoyment, now until 2010

2003 Cloof Darling Pinotage 69 Points

2003 Cloof Darling Pinotage 69 Points

Overipe, porty, sunburnt grape, with herbaceous note, malty nose, same profile follows on palate. Drink now

NV Tulbagh Dry Red Bag in Box 5 lt

NV Tulbagh Dry Red 5 Lt 77 Points

Ripe red fruits, hints of earth and wood. Ripe plums, spicy cherry pip, peppery good balance between delicate fruit acidity and soft tannins, slightly dry bitter finish.

Good everyday quaffing, unpretentious, recommended for those who never had wine before, good way top make their first step, and may the long road from there, make you progress through the wonderful world of wine.

At approximately R11.25, equivalent per bottle, instead of buying beer or other hard liquor, try it with your Braai, or half a glass everyday at dinner time, at least if you do not like it, it will keep your heart healthy, and keep the flu away.

Cheers to more convert wine drinker.

2003 Darling Cellars Onyx Pinotage 80 Points

2003 Onyx Darling Pinotage 80 Points

Fragrant blueberries and cassis jam, chocolate, caramel and complex gamey notes of truffles, leather and white pepper dust! Fresh with notes of cherries, dry tannin and touch herbaceous. Now until 2010

2003 Mountain Oak Slanghoek Pinotage 59 Points

2003 Mountain Oaks Slanghoek Pinotage 59 Points

Unfortunately marred by Brettanomyces character and volatile acidity, did not purchase another bottle, as I believe this could not be an isolated case, as the infection was too much.

2003 Mount Rozier Western Cape Pinotage 84 Points

2003 Rozier Bay Western Cape Pinotage 84 Points

Ripe red plum fruit, earthy with vanilla core, savoury complexity, flavours follow through, complex note of ripe cherries, soft well integrated tannins, well rounded.
Fresh, medium bodied food wine, elegant depth and structure.

Now until 2010

2003 Lanzerac Stellenbosch Pinotage 87 Points

2003 Lanzerac Stellenbosch Pinotage 87 Points

Fragrant Oak, delicate red fruit, vanilla and ripe morello cherries.

Flavours follows through, round tannins, good balance, between fruit / oak / alcohol / acid, fairly intense.
Savoury, begs for food. Medium to full bodied.
Now until 2012

2006 Laibach Vineyards Simonsberg Pinotage 88+ Points

2006 Laibach Vineyards Simonsberg Stellenbosch Pinotage 88+ Points

Intense and fragrant spices, minty, hints of eucalyptus oil and sweet spices complexity, with hints of vanilla and wet earth.

Ripe cassis, mulberries follow through, with delicate prunes, excellent integration of oak and tannins structure, fresh complex, clean and polish. Needs time. Cellar for 2 years and thereafter enjoy until 2015.

Klein Constantia Estate Constantia Shiraz

2000 Klein Constantia Estate Shiraz 78+ Points
Lovely colour with slight russet red. Complex notes of game, wet earth and fragrant sweet spices, riper more complex structure than 2001, but sadly the fruit on the lean side, forbidding higher rating.

2001 Klein Constantia Estate Constantia Shiraz 78 Points
Toasty, brown chocolate, hints of coffee, complex with gamey notes, dry aged meat character, elegant food wine, for uncomplicated drinking

2002 Klein Constantia Estate Shiraz 75 Points
Fragrant oak, floral, dry rosemary, complex stewed fruit compote, gamey.

2004 Klein Constantia Estate Shiraz 85+ Points
Fragrant, sweet spices, very ripe red fruits, complex Old World feel, almost like tasting a 2003 Northern Rhône, ripe round tannins, supported by ripe fruit, acidity very well balanced. Very well made, and by far the best of the early 2000’s.
Now until 2012

2005 Rainbow's end Shiraz 82+ Points

2005 Rainbow’s End Banhoek Stellenbosch Single Vineyard Shiraz 82+ Points

Ripe red berries medley, intense chocolate, toffee and smoky, complex earthy notes with lavender, rose and hints of violets, dry tannin, touch herbaceous, delicate, elegant savoury freshness, has potential.
Now until 2012

2006 Tukulu Organically produced Darling Sangiovese 77 Points

2006 Tukulu Organically produced Darling Sangiovese 77 Points
Fragrant, cherry almond pip, hints of wood varnish and incense stick, oaky, cedar, sweet profile, dry tannins and dusty old eucalyptus. Good commercial style. Now until 2010

NV Villiera Brut Rosé 83 Points

NV Villiera Brut Rosé 83 Points

Fresh strawberries, rather simple, austere, lively Pinotage plum character, crisp, elegant, clean, fresh vibrant mousse, touch earthy, well made. Now until 2014/15. Great buy for home entertaining.

2006 Simonsig Brut Rosé 85 Points

2006 Simonsig Brut Rosé 85 Points

Yeasty, complex fresh red berries character, clean, very fine mousse, zesty aftertaste, now until 2013.

2006 JC Leroux Pinot Noir Rosé 87 Points

2006 JC Leroux Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 87 Points

Complex, yeasty, delicate fine mousse, crisp quite intense, delicate cherry and strawberries note, light toast, very fresh and complex, tightly structured, white almonds aftertaste.

A huge step in quality from previous release (1998), now until 2014 /15.

Rainbow's End Cabernet Franc review

2006 Rainbow’s End Banhoek Stellenbosch Cabernet Franc 83 Points

Clear, ripe red berries, cherry wood with nutmeg spices, minty freshness, good complexity, juicy round tannins, delicate, savoury texture, lovely food wine. Now until 2012

2007 Rainbow’s End Banhoek Stellenbosch Cabernet Franc 85 Points

Ruby cherry red, with slight tobacco rim, textbook Cabernet Franc, floral and perfume with cassis and hints of herbal note, peppery, complex melange of red berry such as cassis and notes of nutmeg dust, ripe delicate tannins, intense mouth filling structure, dense fruit still integrating, has some savoury spicy notes, “Old Cape” style ripeness, earthy notes predominates and adds charming interest, has elegance and good freshness

From July 2010 until end 2013.

One of the best priced Cabernet Franc of South Africa, to discover and follow.

12 July 2008

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Kleine Zalze Coastal Region Gamay Noir Rosé 83 Points

2009 Kleine ZalzeGamay Noir Rosé 83 Points

Clear, bright, salmon pink, medium concentration, medium viscosity.

Clean, medium intensity, young ripe strawberries, fragrant sweet delicate raspberry.

Dry to off dry, flavours follow through like strawberry daiquiri freshness, medium acidity, medium complexity, some spritz, medium alcohol, good persistent length.

Perfect rose for uncomplicated drinking at home as an aperitif before dinner.

Drink now until 2012.

La Vierge Wines

2007 La Vierge Temptation Walker Bay Syrah – Mourvedre – Viognier 84 Points

This blend of 76 % Syrah, 17 % Mourvedre and 7 % Viognier, shows a medium clear, ruby red with purple rim hue, along with high concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, smock, tobacco, coffee beans overshadowing the ripe plums and notes of red berries, earthy subdued fruit, touch cedary, animal scented and gamey, due to the high Mourvedre percentage, notes of wild scrub.

Small French oak evident.

Dry, confirms fruit, new flavours of salty preserved kumquat, licorice, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium complexity, medium tannins, some mid palate almondy bitterness, good freshness and crispness, bright, need time, +/- 2 years to integrate.

Akin to a lighter version of the Waterford Estate Kevin Arnold Shiraz.

2008 La Vierge Temptation Walker Bay Rosé – 86 Points

Clear, bright, pale salmon / sunset pink, low plus concentration, low plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, young, fragrant strawberry, ripe red berries medley, raspberries, touch spicy, cherry bon bon and hints of straw.

Dry, crisp, medium plus acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, medium complexity, juicy fresh, compact mid palate, crisp focus, delicate mouth feels, this rosé have enough substance and fruit to drink well over the next 5 years, could potentially be one of the most interesting Cape dry Rosé tasted to date.

Classic blend of Bordeaux varietal and a splash of Viognier for exotic fragrance.

2008 La Vierge Temptation Overberg Sauvignon Blanc – 83 - 85 Points

From Villiersdorp fruit, this Sauvignon is clear, day bright, pale straw, with medium concentration and low plus viscosity.

Touch sedate, but clean, young, with notes of lime, gooseberries, green peas and hints of blackcurrant leaves, white minerals evident, no wood.

Dry, dusty minerality, low plus acidity, medium alcohol, medium complexity, has mid palate weight, with complex minerals follows through, honeyed, with peppery spiciness, will develop well over the next 12 moth and will drink until 2012 and might as well attained 85 Points

2007 La Vierge Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc – 82+ Points

Clear, bright, pale straw, shiny, medium concentration, low plus viscosity.

Clean, medium plus intensity, white pebbles minerals, ripe gooseberries, lime, spicy core of guava skin, no wood.

Dry new flavours of juicy gooseberry and elderflower cordial, medium plus acidity, medium alcohol, ripe peppery texture with phenolic richness, minerally driven, tight mid palate, but somehow lacks the X Factor to justify higher rating.

From now until 2014

2007 Des Dieux Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc – 85 – 87 Points

Clear, bright, pale straw, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity, some gas evident.
Clean, medium plus intensity, ripe lime, citrus, green gage, kiwi skin, pineapple, pure with delicate minerals.

Dry, intense, new flavours of freshly squeeze lime juice, high acidity, lending ultra freshness and vibrancy, linear, juicy tight minerally mid palate, followed by grapefruit bitterness.

Medium alcohol, medium plus complexity, beg foods to reveal it’s full potential, racy and nervous style, concentrated, well made.

From now until 2014+

Pan seared pigeon breast and leg, with buttered flageolet beans and green peas, clear jus enhance with grapefruit zest, and bacon dust.

For more information on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at :

2004 Dieu Donné Vineyards Franschhoek Shiraz 83+ Points

2004 Dieu Donné Franschhoek Shiraz 83+ Points

Medium clear, day bright, ruby red with slight russet rim, high concentration, high plus viscosity.

Clean, high intensity, ripe mulberries, blackcurrant liqueurs, prunes, touch raisiny, earthy core with expansive fragrant in your face new American oak lending sweet profile of vanilla and coconut, spicy and fragrant cinnamon, meaty, old leather, concentrated meat jus, cedary.

Dry, confirms fruit, low tannins, low acidity, earthy richness, fat, textured, juicy, but high alcohol (15.5), medium plus complexity, extracted style, some bitterness on farewell.

For pundits of big, powerful wines, definitely not for faint hearted, this Franschhoek shiraz is a meal in itself, will keep for the next 5 years because of it’s saturated extract.

For winter enjoyment by the fireplace, or with a perfectly grilled medium rare T-bone steak, and green peppercorn sauce.

2009 Kleine Zalze Coastal Region Gamay Noir 86+ Points

2009 Kleine Zalze Coastal Region Gamay Noir 86+ Points

After recently reporting about the fine 2008 vintage, the 2009 was release earlier this month, a vintage so far trumpeted across the Western Cape, as being one of the best of the last 10 years, a dream vintage in another word.

So how does the 2009 compared to the 2008 (85 Points) ?

To start with the colour is far better, more brilliant and shiny, clear, pale ruby red with purple rim, medium concentration, medium viscosity.

Clean, young, medium plus intensity, medley of ripe strawberries, raspberries, cherries, touch earthy, cool mint character, no wood.

Dry, confirms fruit, prominent Moirs raspberry jelly, medium acidity, low plus tannins, medium alcohol, medium complexity, fresh, good mid palate grip, Old world charm, this is simply fantastic, the closest one would get from a Beaujolais Nouveau profile, but with more richness and seriousness, the South African definitely does it better than the French, when it comes to carbonic maceration and fruit intensity, this is gulp level 10, and very very well priced, for the quality, keep it up.

Excellent lunchtime or on it’s own as a light red aperitif, classy and differen

2008 Buitenverwachting Hussey's Vlei Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 82 Points

2008 Buitenverwachting Hussey’s Vlei Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 82 Points

Single vineyard offering made in exceptional vintage only.

Clear, day bright, pale straw, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean, young, medium intensity, with notes of gooseberries, kiwi, passion fruit, no wood, some minerality.

Dry, confirms, nose, crunchy green peas as new flavours, medium plus acidity, reminiscent of freshly squeeze pink grapefruit, low plus alcohol, medium plus complexity, warm climate fruit, subtle and delicate texture with a long mineral aftertaste.

Now until 2014

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2008 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 93 Points

2008 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 93 PointsWine of Origin Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Walker Bay

On Friday 14th November 2008 I was offered the opportunity to have a first hand preview and tasting of the 2008 Chardonnay, with owner Anthony Hamilton Russell, a tank and a barrel sample.

Still in it’s embryonic phase, with the lees still in suspension.

As we all know great wine start in the vineyard and nowhere is it more prominent, in the Cape besides Cape Point Vineyard, when it comes to show sense of place and the mystery of terroir more prevalent than Hamilton Russell Vineyards.

The estate Chardonnay, one of the top 30 Chardonnay’s of the world (including Burgundy, my selection) is born on a combination of stony clay and shale derived soil, imparting a low vigour to the vine, thus directing all the energy to where they should be, the Chardonnay berries……

At the time of the tasting what strike me was the austerity, Burgundian for sure, but more akin to a Grand Cru Les Clos Chablis.

The other revelation was the palate structure, tense, precise, focus, a sleeping giant waiting to wake up, it was a question of time…

With regards to the viticulture side, one of the most interesting aspect and something to be applauded are the low yields, a mere 3.16 ton / hectare, little less than half of the majority of Cape average, and the sooner South African wine producer will realise, that great wine is not born from high yields or 6 ton plus, the better it will be for the image of South African wines in an international context, if they want to play with the big boys.

Considering the maximum yield of a white Grand Cru Burgundy is set at 35 hectolitre hectare, the 2008 Hamilton Russell was only 21.5 hectolitre, per hectare, this is very serious concentrated stuff, the essence of terroir or should I call it obsession through perfection, for a monumental cause.

I tasted the final wine, bottle and ready for market in February 2008:

100 % barrel fermented in 228 litre French oak, of which 31% was new, for 8 month, the main forest use was Allier, from 4 different coopers, namely Francois Freres, Mercurey, Dargaud and Jaegle.

Clear, day bright, pale straw with green tinge, medium concentration, medium viscosity.

Clean, high plus intensity, with complex notes of citrus medley, fleur d’oranger, bergamot, hints of crunchy pear, ripened apples, fragrant white peach, white minerals and soupcon of butter.

Subtly wooded, small French oak evident, but focus, expertly handle.

Dry, high natural acidity, (an impressive 7 gram / L Total Acid, here we are in premier league for sure when it comes to top world class Chardonnay) precise, high complexity, textured, with intense mouth feel, complimented by striking freshness, tight with a minerality profile , I have never encountered before in a Cape Chardonnay.

Now where does this wine fit in?

Overall a highly complex Cape Chardonnay with an elegant final, a wine exuding confidence and extrovert personality, reminiscent of a Meursault richness (the New World provenance, lends that richness) with the austerity, precision and freshness of a Corton as well as the X Factor of a Montrachet, what a balancing act ! Well done.

This is the greatest Cape Chardonnay, I have tasted to date, and will be a very hard act to follow by any other South African wineries, it reminds me a lot of the stunning and world class 2001 and to a lesser extent the 2006 and 2005, which when re-tasted blind last winter 2008, was simply impressive with mind blowing complexity and structure

The 2008 will follow, and I reckoned will cellar even better as it shows a pH of only 3.01, which is very low by Cape standards, this will reward sheer drinking pleasure, if kept under optimum cellaring condition, to 2019+.

Last but not least, the price factor at roughly 20% of the cost of a Grand Cru Burgundy, it is an absolute bargain, for any Sommeliers or private collectors who is serious about their wines, do not think twice.

Duo of grilled firm white fish (Kingklip, Turbot, Sea bass, bream) and medaillon of rock lobster in white sauce, lightly enhanced with Reblonchon, lime zest, toasted almond flake and grape seed oil

To know more about TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Plaisir de Merle Wines reviewed

Plaisir de Merle Wines, Simonsberg Paarl

2008 Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay 82+ Points

Clear, star bright, low plus concentration, low plus viscosity.

Clean, young, with lovely notes of citrus, lime and tangerine touch buttery and toasty, bread crust, good definition, has chardonnay austerity, French oak, touch minerality, dry to off dry, medium complexity, low plus acidity, medium alcohol, fruit confirms nose, limestone and shale minerality.

Does not have the same power, richness, structure and complexity of previous vintages, e.g 2004 & 2006. I do not think it’s a reflection of the vintage, as there has been some stunning Chardonnay’s from 2008, either it could be a change in winemaking style or inappropriate vineyard work, I mean not enough nurturing, remember great wine is born in the vineyard or the addition of fruit from younger vineyard.

Nevertheless this Chardonnay will last until 2014.

2008 Plaisir de Merle Wines, Simonsberg Paarl Sauvignon Blanc 78+ Points

Clear, bright pale straw, with slight green tinge, low plus concentration and low plus viscosity.

Clean, young, medley of gooseberries, kiwi, grapefruit, elderflower and dusty notes of dried earth.

Dry, juicy, confirms fruit, more grapefruit, confirms minerality, medium complexity, low plus acidity, low plus alcohol, from now until 2012.

2007 Plaisir de Merle Wines, Simonsberg Paarl Merlot 79 Points

Clear, bright ruby red, slight watery rim, medium concentration, medium viscosity.
Clean, plummy, ripe red berries, chocolate, truffles and cinnamon dust.

Dry, hollow mid palate, notes of sweet & sour cherries, black tea like tightness, green dry tannin, lacking complexity and fleshiness of Merlot, short finish, low plus complexity. From now until 2015.

The more Cape Merlot I taste, the more it further confirmed my observation that 99.9 % Merlot of the Cape is best left for blending and should never be bottle on it’s own, just because the market need a varietal Merlot, Rand for Rand the quality of Pinot Noir is far better than that of Merlot, currently available, across the board!
If only main supermarket buyers can start buying more Pinot Noir and fill in the gap of the atypical Merlot out there on the shelves, this will do a great service to the enjoyment and education of wine in South Africa.

2006 Plaisir de Merle Wines, Simonsberg Paarl Cabernet Sauvignon 76 Points

Clear, bright ruby red with slight russet rim, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity.

Clean, fresh, young, a little atypical for a Cabernet Sauvignon, with more prominent strawberry, ripe berries and raspberries, rather than the usual blackcurrant and cassis….

Touch cedary, with earthy notes of dark soil, savoury, fresh notes of black olives and black tea, sweet profile, low plus complexity, medium acidity, medium tannins, very commercial, a pity because one of the best South African Cabernet Sauvignon I ever had was the 1994 Plaisir de Merle, I should have enjoyed over 30 bottles of that vintage between 1998 – 2003, (on a student and commis Sommelier budget) and each and every bottle, was very close to a world class Cabernet Sauvignon, showcasing ripe Cabernet fruit concentration, austerity, structure, fragrant cedar wood, and explosive finish, what has happened, why such a drastic change in style ?
Now until 2014