Monday, April 13, 2009

2007 Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 86+ Points

2007 Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 86+ Points

Catherine Marshall has always been very consistent with quality and represent one of the best value Pinot Noir, from the Cape.

From experience of tasting previous vintages up to 2000, Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir needs about 5 years in bottle to fully express it’s charm, complexity and full potential, at that age it normally showcase a complexity reminiscent of a style half way between a good to very good generic Burgundy of 7 to 8 years old and a mature Morgon of about 6 years old.

Whole berry ferment, this 2007 vintage is a blend of Elgin and Outeniqua fruit, it shows a clear, bright, ruby red, medium plus concentration and medium plus viscosity.

Clean.fragrant cherries and raspberries medley, ripe, expressive New World Pinot character.

Fresh, good attack, ripe tannins, intense Burgundian richness, tight cherry pip structure, complex, has depth and charm.
The oaking is subtle and delicate and just right.

From now through decanting, will peak around 2012+ and will drink well until 2015

TOMATO CATERING suggest: When young and exuberant such as this 2007, it is the perfect wine with a platter of charcuterie such as saucisson sec, chorizo, gammon, and air cured ham served with crunchy baguette and beetroot salad

When aged +- 5 years old:

Melt in the mouth marinated and slow roasted rabbit on the bones with sweet spices and red wine, served with buttered herb tagliatelli, gooseberry sauce and lightly season with fleur de sel

For more information about TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Fullard at

2008 Catherine Marshall Sauvignon Blanc 2008

2008 Catherine Marshall Sauvignon Blanc 86 Points

This 2008, is without doubt the best Sauvignon Blanc made to date by Catherine Marshall, in a vintage not to be remembered due to intermittent rain and other climatic and viticultural challenges

Made from Durbanville fruit, after numerous tastings, it’s by far the best of the hills for 2008, even compared side by side with the most established wineries or brands of the Durbanville wine valley, and I believe it’s more a matter of unique expression of the site where the grapes come from as well as the micro climate surrounding that specific block, rather than wine making genius.

Bright, clear, pale straw, with green tinge, medium concentration, low plus viscosity, clean.

Expressive, classic grassy Cape Sauvignon, with gooseberries, greengage, flinty aromas, white pebbles.

Crisp, fresh, unwooded, ripe green and white pepper spiciness, soft acid remisnescent of green granadilla, good integration of flavours, supported by an excellent mid palate concentration.
Commendable 12.5 % alcohol by volume.
From now until 2013.

suggest : great at lunchtime with a mixed autumnal salad, crumbly feta, Rosa tomato, hard boiled quail egg, honey dew melon, mustard and passion fruit vinaigrette and croutons.

For more information on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Fullard at

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Meinert La Barry Coastal Region Sauvignon Blanc 85+ Points

2008 Meinert La Barry Sauvignon Blanc Coastal Region 85+ Points

When a specialist red winemaker marries a white wine drinker, something has got to give. And though it may not have been the simplest solution, producing a maiden white wine under the renowned Martin Meinert label was perhaps the most romantic.

Adding feminine flair to a line-up of predominantly masculine reds stemming from his Devon Crest vineyard outside Stellenbosch, the ‘La Barry’ Sauvignon Blanc 2008 bares a refreshing outcome of a promise made by winemaker Martin Meinert to his bride Leigh Ann Barry on their wedding day two years ago.

In his quest for excellence Martin eventually sourced prime grapes from Elgin, in the Overberg area, which comprises roughly two third of the blend, harvested in March and transported to his winery at Devon Crest where the fruit was painstakingly transformed into his first La Barry Sauvignon blanc. The remaining one third was from Groenekloof in Darling, both prime Sauvignon areas known for their moderate climate.

Pale straw, with good clarity and brilliance. Fresh, yellow pears, white floral, clay dust like earthiness, complex subtle aromas, well contained Sauvignon character, not aggressive. Structured palate, leesy, ripe lemon curd and crunchy green peas, touch white pepper spiciness, layered. Well made for a 2008.

Now until 2011".

10000 bottles produced.

Tasted 31 October 2008

Tomato and marinated mozzarella in pesto, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, fleur de sel and coarse black pepper, alternatively great as a sophisticated aperitif.
For more information about TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Fullard at

2008 Elgin Vintners Viognier 85 Points

2008 Elgin Vintners Viognier 85 Points

This is the second vintage of Elgin Vintners Viognier, a fantastic wine showcasing it's moderate climate very well, as the vine ages expect a more profound wine........

Clear bright with pale straw hue colour, medium plus viscosity.

Aromas - Fragrant sun ripe white peaches and apricots medley, hints of white rose and jasmine blossom, complex multilayered aroma. Very pure excellent varietal expression of a moderate climate Viognier.

Delicate, juicy, intense flavours follows through, with striking and chiselled laser like acidity, lending ultra cool freshness and vibrancy, rich complex structure intermingle with excellent integration of Romanian oak very well supported by the concentrated fruit structure. Persistent long lingering aftertaste.
Drink now until 2013.

A celebration of power, elegance and finesse. Only 3300 bottles made.

TOMATO CATERING suggest : Grilled game fish such as tuna or swordfish.
Roasted quail
Excellent with pan seared foie gras
Veal sweat bread
Peking duck
Country style pork liver paté

For more details on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Fullard at

Tasted 04 February 2008.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

2006 Guardian Peak Tannat Malbec 89 - 91 Points

2006 Guardian Peak Tannat Malbec 89 – 91 Points

Deep crimson red with vibrant purple rim, hugely fragrant and intense, medley of ripe blue and black berries, cassis, ripe plum interwoven with spicy peppery notes further complimented by torrefied coffee beans, complex and layered.

Powerful, concentrated, the palate is dense, the purity of fruit very well coaxed with the oak, (of which 60 % were new) lively and fresh, aided by the 6.6 grams acidity / L, tight grippy ripe tannins, (I suspect there is a portion of pressed wine added, for structure) saturated mid palate, need food to unfolds its nuances.

This Cahors inspired blend of 54% Tannat from Worcester, 34 % Malbec and 12 % Merlot, both from Stellenbosch, is the first of it’s kind in the Cape, should be applauded for this innovative blend, in a sea of sameness.

I am not implying or suggesting that this blend should be copied by other wineries, but it’s time that Cape winemakers start getting a little more innovative rather than the sea of boring Cape Blends out there, that are virtually impossible to sell on a wine list, this Guardian Peak, has an edge, plus a unique selling point.

When tasted last year in October 2008, during Cape Wine exhibition, it was already good with a solid 85 points, but since has gained weight, texture and complexity in bottle, hence justify the excellent 89 points, however, this blend have so much personality that it could well attained a very good to world class status of 91 points with time.

Need decanting of at least 3 hours if want to be enjoyed now, however the good pH of 3.47, will see this wine evolved beautifully over the next 8 years and will drink well until 2021+


1 - Milk fed rack of lamb, roasted in wood fired oven, served with roots vegetables, pommes Boulangere, jus corsé enhanced with fresh origanum, Sichuan pepper and Lap Cheong pork sausage.

Alternatively something exotic, for this winter, such as a :

2 - Fiery braised duck in red curry sauce, enhanced with galangal, served with fragrant Basmati rice scented with brown onion, cloves and fresh coriander.

For more details on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Fullard at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Paul Cluver Pinot Noir vertical tasting shows goodd results

As originally published by, on Monday 20th August 2007

Paul Cluver Pinot Noir vertical tasting shows good results

by Shirley de Kock & Associates

At a recent Paul Cluver Pinot Noir tasting of the estate’s eight vintages from 1997 – 2006 for journalists, sommeliers and the wine trade in Cape Town, the consensus was that the first and latest vintages are the best, although the vintages in between also got some good commendations.

Winemaker Andries Burger, who has been visiting top Burgundian wine estates since 1997, has steadfastly stuck to Burgundian cooperages, with the amount of new wood decreasing from the first vintage of 100 per cent to 20 per cent in the 2006 vintage.

"Most years since 2000 we have used 30 per cent new oak, but in the 2006 vintage reduced it to 20 per cent. The coopers we use are mainly Mercurey & Gillet, which we find is a good fit for our wines, giving just enough oak. Some of the grapes in the 2006 vintage are from new plantings, which were initiated in 2000 based on an extensive terroir study undertaken on the farm."

"We added three more clones, planted on the high slopes of the Elgin estate. While ripening a little later and only comprising four per cent of the grapes, what they add to the wine is more distinctive fruit and floral aromas. Crop reduction and intensive sorting have also resulted in greater concentration of fruit."

Most agreed with Burger that there is no such thing as an average Pinot Noir. Because Burgundy is saturated with Pinot Noir, the market can absorb a bad one, he says.

In South Africa there are so few made since the grape is so difficult to grow and the wine so difficult to produce that it is expensive and wine drinkers don’t want to experiment. But once it opens up and reveals its sweet strawberry flavours, said Paul Cluver, one falls in love.

"It’s like the girl you take home to meet the parents," he says, "and it is very rewarding to receive industry accolades for this varietal - four stars six times in Platter, being considered the best Pinot Noir in South Africa by Wine Magazine, being chosen by airlines for first class, and being voted one of the top 5 in South Africa according to the British Wine Magazine."

Says winewriter Angela Lloyd, "Pinot Noir is about mouth feel. I really liked the 1997 vintage, and the 2006 is already one of my favourites. Paul Cluver has been going places since 2004," she says.

Burger picks the 2004 as one of his favourites, following the voluptuous 2003 and he sees great potential in the 2006 which will be released later this year. "The 2007 is already showing promise," he says.

Miguel Chan, sommelier and beverage manager at The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia who was judged South Africa‘s first national Jeune Sommelier and will represent South Africa at the inaugural international competition in Frankfurt in September, says the 1997 and 1998 vintages are two of the very few Cape Pinot wines that can last a good 15 years, if cellared properly.

"The wines show some of the best Pinot structure to be found in the Cape, with very good colour retention with one exception, an elegance across the range, with ripe and delicate tannin structure / extraction, that will integrate with time. They show no sign of thinness or dilution, over-acidification or greenness and present an almost perfect balance between wood and fruit."

"They are made with respect, to be cellared and enjoyed with fine cuisine such as very slow roasted duck with salt and black pepper, glazed with fynbos honey, raspberry jus and a twist of Parma Ham or mild game such as Springbok fillet, simply grilled and served rare with a Pinot reduction, glazed beetroot and crostini. And of course a good coq au vin."

"There is very serious winemaking behind each vintage," he says.

Chan’s first choice was the 1997 which he says has typical Pinot complexity, superb tertiary character and slight gaminess, voluptuous tannins, delicate red summer berries; then he enjoyed the 1998 vintage which is very complex, with the colour still holding very well for a Cape Pinot; the 2003 vintage with toffee, coffee, lots of oak, quite charry, he believed was very New World in style. The smokiness will integrate with time and "disappear". It has wonderful purity of fruit. Its big, almost chewy, structure will be great to revisit in 2012 or 2014. He also liked the tight Old-World austerity of the 2006 vintage, which needs lots of time to integrate. There’s lots of lovely fruit lurking behind the ripe tannins structure, oak very well in balance. It will need at least 5 years cellaring."

Wine writer Tim James agreed. "The 1997 showed amazingly well and that despite the fact that it was the first Pinot Noir vintage with 100 per cent new oak, it didn’t show oak at all."

He also liked the 2006 vintage which will be released later this year, saying that the tannin was lower than any of the others, and that the balance was the best in the line-up. All in all, he said, the 2006 will be a very good wine.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Delicate Pinot Noir from Herold

Herold Wines

Herold vineyard, might be the most eastern Pinot Noir vineyard of the Western Cape, at around 418 km east of Cape Town.

These were the first wines to be Certified Wine of Origin Outeniqua.

The vineyard lies in the scenic Outeniqua pass, at between 650 - 750 meters above sea level on a north facing slopes, 15 km away from the warm Indian Ocean.

The climate is best described as moderate, due to altitude and high rainfall.

It’s a challenging place to grow vines, as it is at the confluence of the summer rainfall zone, and when it rains in Herold it rains, non stop, so to compensate the overload of water, as we all know vines do not like wet feet in summer, Vivien Harpur, the down to earth, low keyed, owner, viticulturist and 6 vintage as winemaker, has been very clever in choosing a very high planting density, based on the Burgundian and Champagne model, nowhere to be found in the Cape, at 12000 vines per hectare, this create the ideal water suction due to the high ratio of leaf canopy and evaporation.

Here no fancy machine, no gravity tanks or sorting table, it’s basic wine making, after all when the fruit are so great, nothing else is required…

Other interesting fact about Herold is the time of harvest, the Walker Bay district long know to be the pioneered area for Pinot Noir in the Cape in the early 80’s, which I have always respect and applauded and still produces fine Pinot, with pioneers such as Hamilton Russell Vineyards (by the way watch this space for the 2008 Chardonnay tasting note) and Bouchard Finlayson, usually harvest between the 2nd week of February until the 1st week of March, here in Herold it’s a whole 15 to 21 days later, usually start around the 20th of March all the way to the end, this extra hang time, as well as cooler night, develops more complex character in the grape, with the benefit of lower sugar = lower alcohol, higher Total Acid, which in general is about 2 gram higher, averaging 7.5, so lending ultra freshness, character and crispness, which makes the wine ultra food friendly.

Other interest of note is the time of harvest of the Sauvignon Blanc when the hot regions of the Cape, which is Robertson, Wellington, Worcester, and further inland etc etc (let’s not open a can of worm here...) start harvesting sometime as early as the 3rd week of January and compare to the warm Stellenbosch, irrespective of the supposedly cooler slopes and altitude, where harvest is around the 10th of February, in Herold, Sauvignon is only harvested at the end of March, beginning of April, still retaining about +/- 8 gram natural acidity in the end product, with upfront complex tropical fruit medley, gooseberries and an aromatic profile, closer to Marlborough than Sancerre, thereby confirming the area as a moderate climate, and I repeat it once again, it’s not cool or cold climate, it simply does not exist in South Africa.

Moderate is the “coolest”, one can get from a Cape climate perspective, irrespective of the area the vine is grown.

The reason I am so finicky about this point is because so many Marketing people, and uninformed wine sales rep with huge ego boost, keep on fooling young and ignorant wine waiters and Sommeliers to be, as well as uninformed consumer, there is so such thing as cool climate viticulture in South Africa………leave this to Mosel, Burgundy, Oregon or Central Otago……

Pinot Noir
Highly individual, near perfect colour hue, complex aromatic Pinot profile of crushed ripe strawberries, truffles, mushrooms, wet earth, delicate texture, lively acidity, moderate alcohol, more Burgundy than New World showiness, exceptional food wine, sum up the style of Herold Pinot.

2004 Herold 92 Points

This is the Pinot that make me re-assessed my perception of Cape pinot, yes, South Africa will never compete with Burgundy, nor get even closer to Oregon or South Island New Zealand, may be not for now, but what about in 10 years time ?
With this style, quality and reflection of site, this could well be one of the serious contenders of New World Pinot Noir, as the vine ages and a better understanding of the great Outeniqua climate and soil, I am even convince that the vines that have produced such a complex and complete Pinot, with Burgundian profile, might as well if kept and left to reach their over 50’s birthday (+/- 2049) could well give some serious Premier Cru, competition, time will tell……..

Hauntingly complex, multifaceted with ripe dark red fruits of the forest, blueberries, ceps, sappy mouth feels, precise structure, yet lots of finesse and sleek elegance, very good length. Well done.

Each and every guest (demanding ones who knows their Burgundy and benchmark New World Pinot) that have enjoy a bottle were unanimous, it was in a league of it’s own and they as well had a different perception of Cape Pinot.

2005 Herold Black Sheep 75 Points

Called “Black Sheep”, as the wine was declassified and not up to the high standard set by Vivien.

Brick red, Ripe black cherry, coffee, hints of cassis, very ripe red fruits melange, farmyard character, tight, lovely soft red fruits follows, lurking behind ripe tannin structure typical Pinot, complex, ethereal, mushroom medley along with hints of boiled beetroot, light and earthy structure, somewhat lacking fruit concentration, complexity and length of 2004, this is a good introduction to Pinot for uncomplicated drinking from winter 2010 until 2013. 2680 bottles made

2006 Herold 85 – 87 Points

Darker with more extraction and substance, might be a touch too much for light skin Pinot, nevertheless, no sign of over extraction here, the aromatic complexity are text book Pinot, with red fruits of the forest medley, brown mushroom, wet earth and hints of straw, needing time in bottle the wine is only starting to opened up (April 2009) and the palate structure is meshing well with the natural acidity which is definitely emerging as a hall mark of Outeniqua wines, this extra breath of freshness, gives life and character to this well made Pinot. 2448 bottles made.
For now until 2013+, will drink well until 2020+

2007 Herold 90+

Clear day bright, raspberry red, brilliant, excellent colour extraction, if not the best to date, low plus concentration with medium plus viscosity.

Clean, fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherry liqueur, complex earthy note with hints of truffles, has depth and charm, hints of spicy mintiness,lends extra layer of complexity, amazing soft Burgundian feel, elegant similar in profile to the great 2004, but purer, complex and intense. Only 12.3 alc by volume.

Highly recommended, could well deserved higher score with time ?
From 2011, will peak at around 2017, but will drink well until 2026.

2008 Herold 92 – 94+?

Perfect colour extraction for a Pinot, very good clarity and brightness, lively, hauntingly fragrant and intensely aromatic Pinot character, with notes of crushed ripe wild strawberries, dark morello cherries and raspberries, wet earth, porcini mushroom, complex and multidimensional.

Fresh, good attack, precise, very pure, some sappy feel, elegant mouth feels, lithe, burgundian structure, perfect palate extraction, this magnificent Pinot is as complex as the 2004 and the 2007, yet seems lighter, but somewhat a double personality, as the complexity is hard to beat, this is a pinot that sings finesse all the way through, linear complexity.

From 2011, will peak at +/- 2017, but the acidity will keep it lively and drinking well until 2026.

Herold seems to get better and better since 2007, and definitely amongst the top five pinot of the Cape, would be interesting to see how it fares alongside, other benchmark New World Pinot Noir, made of similar vine age (+/- 10 years) and similar care?

Sauvignon Blanc

2006 Herold 94 Points

This is one of the finest Cape Sauvignon I ever had, it was striking due to it’s individuality as well as it’s amazing depth, viscosity and structure, combined with steely acidity and a powerful fruit structure.

The most interesting fact about that wine is that, when 95% of winemakers choose reductive handling with Sauvignon, this specific vintage was made from a basket press, hence handle oxidatively to some extent and only free run juice were use, yielding only 450 liter per 1 ton, the resultant wine was, intense, full, complex, with a natural acid of 7.3 and a Ph of 3.2, and again a concentration hard to achieve in the Cape.

It was a style between a very good Marlborough in a warm and concentrated year along with pungent text book aromas, only 6070 were made, if you see it somewhere grab it, do not think twice, this Sauvignon have still another at least 8 years of life ahead.

2007 Herold 83+ Points

Crisp linear style, with green gage and kiwi fruit, followed by hints of lemon grass and sweet peas, lighter, greener and less concentrated that the magnificent 2006, more a reflection of vintage than a stylistic change, good mid palate weight, spicy white pepper aftertaste.

2008 Herold 79+ Points

Star bright, pale straw with green tinge, medium concentration, low viscosity, with notes of crunchy green apples, gooseberries, green kiwi and grass, followed by Chinese chives and custard apples.

Minerally, earthy white stony, high acid lending a profile of Vinho Verde crispness, and structure, perfect as a chilled aperitif overlooking the sunset or by the pool.

Something Unusual

2008 Agnus Lanus 85 Points
The “white lamb” an unusual blend of wooded Chardonnay with Sauvignon and white Pinot Noir, crisp, intense green pineapple, toast and gooseberries, very fresh with vibrant attack, good length and structure, should be great with a smoked trout and fennel salad.

There is also a Merlot, Shiraz and a Cabernet Shiraz blend in the range, as well as a dessert style naturally dried Pinot.

For more information on Herold wines please visit their website or contact Vivien Harpur at

For the perfect food pairing, please contact
Tomato Catering at for a tailor made menus.

Miguel Chan
Certified Sommelier