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

Miguel Chan Wine Journal and etiquette and the way forward

The idea of my Wine Journal was born 2007, when at a time I have noticed there was a growing request from hotel guests I have served a memorable bottle of South African wines and also from my colleagues Sommeliers around the world.

I soon realise I was sending hundred’s of the same mail with my tasting notes and recommendation, and was getting time consuming.

The Sommeliers friends wanted to be accurately informed about South African wines, especially when it comes to listing in a fine dining environment, with food in mind as pairings.

By the way, thank you all for your support and ideas, keep reading my blog, I am trying my best, of my limited time, to keep posting new discoveries and ratings.

From the hotel guests, the majority are them are avid collectors of fine Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as other benchmark wines of the world, with home cellars in excess of over 600 bottles on average. They wanted something new, and comparable to their preferences, and yes this is no such things as 2 same wines from 2 distinct regions, albeit 2 different countries, but simulation in style is a reality.

We have developed over the years a very strong relationship, cemented by wine discussion and exchange of a few great bottles, they wanted to be kept updated about what I was tasting and what was new, and by the same token, seek South African wines they can cellar, for short to medium term, as well as corporate enjoyment.

Too many times they have been disappointed by choosing the wrong bottle / vintage of a particular South African wines, of labels / brands they recognised, or had before.

Hence the start of my wine journal and ratings, to give indications to Sommeliers, Restaurateurs, Hoteliers, private collectors, as well as we should not forget the burgeoning everyday wine drinker worldwide, where to find the top South African wines of a region, district or ward and which wines are not recommendable.

I will where possible, within reasonable execution describe every single wine relevant to it’s ratings and to give a suggested overall quality and drinking potential.

My ratings is to be as objective as possible using the 100 point scoring system, both blind and sighted, which I firmly believe give more justice and clarity to a wine destiny, it is my aim to rate wines according to their quality, irrespective of the bottle, label presentation or producers reputation and not to my personal taste.

I do however respect other means of scoring system such as the 20 points.

I consider myself to be very open-minded regarding different wine styles and will always include both positive and negative ratings on my blog, as at the end of the day, we all need to be kept informed, of what we are buying to enjoy and sharing with our friends and preconceived ideas due to miscommunication or short sightedness should not apply to wine enjoyment and education.

Wine being a product of nature, should reflect it’s vagaries, as well as the site and passion of the winemaker, homogenisation or aggressive branding should best be left for Fast Moving Consumer Goods, and not to wine as it does not contribute to the education of wine in general.

South African society of wine drinkers is extremely conservative, unlike e.g the Australian who experiments a lot, when it comes to new varietal or style.

Boring brands tends to dominate the purchase decision either in supermarket or eating out, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially the emerging middle class as well as the best wine buyers of the country, resident of Gauteng, they are adventurous, money is not an object, they trust sommeliers, and want to be educated and drink quality, they are my favourites.

The media and freelance wine writers tend to publish only their top scores or personal selection and the winners, but most of the time never talk or write about the bottom scorers, and why they are at the bottom and stays at the bottom year on year (e,g far too much high yields, resulting in simple wine with no character..) most hesitate to disgrace producers with lower quality, could it be because these are some of the most interesting advertisement or sponsoring partners ?

This distort the reality, South Africa being a very young wine making country, with only 15 years of international experience, and the world is thirsty to understand the beautiful wines, in it’s integrity, as well as visiting the breathtaking scenery of the Cape Wine lands and go an experience the right tasting venue.

Of the 600 or so wineries of the Cape, roughly 35% are quality driven, with good consistency(based on personal tasting experience, since 1996) and are striving hard everyday to make a difference and improve their wines year on year, and actively engaged with the consumer, locally and overseas and furthering the cause of understanding., promoting and creating awareness about South African wines.

The remaining 65% what are they doing? The consumer can only be fooled for a certain amount of time! and sooner or later they will realise.

The top 35 %, if I may call it that way are not watching or spying what their neighbours are doing, but experimenting and trying to make compelling wines, their worries and fears are not local, and their wines shows that it can rubbed shoulders with the world’s best, and my quest is to highlights the high and low’s, for you top make smart buying decision, either personal or business.

Should anybody put pressure on my person because of low scores, I will immediately report it on the blog, as consumers and buyers deserve the truth, as wine enjoyment and education should not be hampered by bottomless marketing budget.

Compliments on winning the Diners Club International, South Africa's National Best Winelist 2008

On winning the coveted Diners Club International South Africa’s national best wine list of the year 2008, and diamond awards for 4 consecutive year, below are the praises received from the South African wine industry, main players.

My message to them, thank you very much, keep making compelling wines, always try harder, and let’s all promote South African wines, by means of education, awareness and support to professional and trained Sommeliers.

Long live Cape wines and keep enjoying it, let’s support the dedicated winemakers and winery owners below.

From Alvi’s Drift Private Cellar , in Scherpenheuvel, Worcester –

Well done ! Best sommelier in the world.
Kind regards
Dr Alvi vd Merwe

From Cape Point Vineyards, in Cape Point Peninsula -
Hi Miguel
Bloody brilliant and well deserved. Its a privilege to be a part of the list.
Duncan Savage

From Constantia Glen, in Constantia Valley -
Dear Miguel
That’s awesome news, well done from all of us at Constantia Glen !
Kind Regards
Jeremy Nel

Also from Constantia Glen in Constantia Valley-
Hi Miguel,
Congratulations!!! A phenomenal achievement.
Kind regards,
Karl Lambour

From Constantia Uitsig in Constantia Valley -
I think Congratulations are in order and the privilege is ours that we can be part of the Wine List that is so highly regarded. Here’s to another good year together.

Best Regards
Kathy Cassells and the team at Uitsig.

From Deetlefs Estate in Breedekloof -
Congratulations Miguel!!
You deserve it and we are proud to be associated with The Cellars Hohenort! The one component that is so many times overlooked is passion!
Thank you also for your contribution to our success
Best wishes for the next step…
Kobus Deetlefs

From Hamiton Russell Vineyards, in Hemel-en-Arde Valley, Walker Bay
Congrats Miguel, I didn't doubt it for a second! We are proud to be associated with Cellars Hohenort!RegardsTalita
Talita Engelbrecht

From Haut Espoir in Franschhoek -
Hi Miguel
Congratulations once again for this years award, shows all the hard work you put in is well deserved.

You are a great ambassador for SA wines.

All the best and kind regards.
Rob Armstrong

From Herold Wines, in Outeniqua -
“Good evening Miguel

I see you also do the Sunday night shift!

There is no doubt that the personality and the passion behind the wine list has much to do with its success. Congratulations on a well deserved award.

It is a pleasure working with you and a privileged learning from you.”

Vivien Harpur

From Kleine Zalze Wines, in Stellenbosch -

Morning Miguel

Thank you for the below, it is a most interesting read and we are very happy to welcome you to South Africa, it is very refreshing to have someone of your talent in our country.

Well done again on your fantastic achievement.

Have a fantastic week

Kind regards

Carolyn Miller

From L’Avenir Vineyards, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch -


Congratulations from L’avenir team.
Tinus Els

From Morgenster Estate, Helderberg, Stellenbosch -

Dear Miguel
Congratulations, it has paid off to be patient, great job, Morgenster is proud to be part of your outstanding achievement. Trust you will display this accolade in the foyer of Cellars-Hohenort.
Enjoy the journey!!
Kind regards.
Marius L.Lategan

From Ormonde Private Cellar, Darling West Coast -
Dear Miguel,

Please accept our best wishes and congratulations on receiving such a prestigious award as the Diners Club Best Wine List for 2008.Well done !

Kind regards,

Herman Steyn

From Steenberg Vineyards, in Constantia Valley -

Hi Miguel

Congratulations!!!!!!! Well done – you really deserve it. It’s fantastic to associate with someone filled with so much passion.

John Loubser

Also from Steenberg Vineyards, in Constantia Valley -
Hey Miguel!

A very well deserved well done to you! You really deserve this award, after all the hard work you’ve put in, and the passion you show for South African wines. Thanks also for your great support of the Constantia Valley – it is great, and I wish more people would follow your example.

Well done and Congratulations again!

Anetha Homan

From Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch -

Well done MC!

But dude I got to say… you aren’t surprised are you?!

I’m not! Well deserved!

Kind Regards,
Thomas Webb

From Waterford Estate, in Helderberg, Stellenbosch -
Dear Miguel

Congratulations on winning this very coverted award from all of us here at Waterford Estate.We are extremely proud of you.

Your passion, enthusiasms and fine knowledge of vine and wine have been rewarded in this way and I would like to personally thank you for the contribution you are making to raise the standard of fine dining experiences with South African wine.
We desperately need more establishments to offer wine lists of your standard to help showcase the true gems of our wine lands to the discerning visitors to our shores.

Kind regards
Kevin Arnold

2006 Strandveld Elim Adamastor 86+ Points

2006 Strandveld Elim Adamastor 86+ Points

Clear, bright, straw, with green tinge, medium concentration and medium viscosity.

Clean, intense grapefruit, earthy, dusty ( a terroir hallmark emerging of white wines from Elim), peppery, chalky dust, remisniscent of quartz minerality.

Honeyed, but dry, textured, very good length and palate weight, with subtle notes of toast and caramel on aftertaste.

This wooded blend of 50 / 50 Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, is very well made. Recommended.

From now until 2017

TOMATO CATERING Suggest: Pan fried Kingklip fillet on a bed of “al dente” black lentils, enhance with fine herbs and tomato salsa enhanced with ginger and fresh chilli.

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

2008 First Sighting Chardonnay-Semillon-Viognier 75 Points

2008 First Sighting Elim Chardonnay – Semillon – Viognier Blend – 75 Points

Austere, vegetal, and herbaceous.

Dry, with salty texture, some minerality and crunchy green fruit, greengage.

Light, lacking complexity, structure and finesse, but can be good for informal everyday drinking at home.

Now until 2012

2008 Remhoogte Chenin Blanc 84 Points

2008 Remhoogte Simonsberg Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc No 6 – 84 Points

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

Clean, fresh, with notes of ripe red apples, hay, complex.

Crisp, dry, tight mid palate, good length, touch phenolic bitterness on finish, good style.

Now until 2014

Peter Falke Cabernet Sauvignon and Blanc de Noir

2003 Peter Falke Western Cape Cabernet Sauvignon 74+ Points

Clear, deep ruby red with purple rim, medium plus concentration, medium viscosity, very good colour for a 2003.

Some reduction (soapy and ammonia), has cabernet austerity, with notes of ripe plums, dark red fruits, savoury texture, touch volatile acidity, one dimensional profile.

Now until 2012

2007 Peter Falke Blanc de Noir 72+ Points

Beautiful onion skin colour, sunset hue.

Fresh crushed strawberries, delicate and unassertive, straw like aromas.

Fresh, crisp, rather one dimensional, lacking fruit and substance.

From now until 2012.

Avontuur Shiraz and Chardonnay

2005 Avontuur Stellenbosch Shiraz 83 Points

Clear, bright, deep cherry red with purple rim, complex and delicate meat jus character.

Blueberries, hints of plum compote and molasses, more Syrah aromatic profile than Shiraz.

Plump, juicy, elegant tannins, salty minerality, savoury black olives and preserved salty kumquat, touch bitterness distract, which stop it from reaching a very good 85 points.

From now until 2014.

2008 Avontuur Luna de Miel Stellenbosch Chardonnay Reserve 82+ Points

Clear, bright, straw with green tinge, medium concentration and medium viscosity.
Fresh, baked lemon, yeasty / biscuit and custard complexity. Juicy, rich and oily, with medium acidity, lending a delicate, honeyed profile, intermingle with persistent toast, barley and burnt citrus, good length and complexity.

From now until 2014.

2006 Journey's End Stellenbosch Merlot 78+ Points

2006 Journey’s End Stellenbosch Merlot 78+ Points

Clear, ruby red, bright, slight brown rim.

Spicy ripe plum, fragrant, touch alcoholic with notes of sweet & sour cherries, complex, earthy, cedar and meaty.

Fresh good attack, ripe tannins, tight, but too much extraction, lacking Merlot flesh and lushness.

Short finish. This merlot have lovely aromatics profile, but marred by over extraction.

From now until 2012

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wildekrans Estate Méthode Cap Classique 2006 and 2007

2006 Wildekrans Estate Méthode Cap Classique Brut 88+ Points

Clear, pale straw, medium concentration, low plus viscosity, tiny fine bubbles, lively.

Clean, shows beautiful maturity, with notes of ripe citrus, brioche, toast corn and pain grille, textured rich mouth feels, creamy with intense mid palate leesy complexity, good length, fresh, very well made, honeyed aftertaste.

From now until 2017.The best to date, even better than the 2002.

Only 2780 bottles made, 100% Walker Bay Chardonnay

2007 Wildekrans Estate Méthode Cap Classique Brut 80+ Points

This time 100 % Chenin Blanc.

Clear, pale bright, medium concentration, low plus viscosity, coarser bubbles, but lively.

Clean, young, austere, with notes of Golden Delicious apples and grilled almond flakes, sea breezy minerality, elegant and delicate mouth feels, good restraint, but touch of bitterness distract, need more time to settle, but will develop.

From 2010 until 2017

Journey's End Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay

2005 Journey’s End Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard 82 Points

Clear, bright, ruby red, with brown rim.

Initially austere, followed by green walnut, herbaceous notes, dry tannins and minty note of eucalyptus (water stress fruit), touch overworked.

From now until 2014

2006 Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay, Single Vineyard, Barrel Selection 82 Points

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

Clean, young with notes of pineapple, citrus, toast and marmalade, new wood evident.
Off dry, low plus acidity, high alcohol, buttery notes of candied lemon, medium length.

From now until 2013

2005 Waarburg Shiraz - Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Franc

2005 Waarburg 80+ Points

A blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, shows clear, bright, ruby cherry red with russet rim, medium plus viscosity and high plus concentration.

Clean, young wine, ripe mulberries, stewed ripe fruit, earthy, with crush black pepper, gamey, hints of truffles, black olives, old wood evident.

Dry, medium acidity, high tannin, low complexity, short aftertaste.
From now until 2014

Klein Constantia Chardonnay and Riesling

2004 Klein Constantia Estate Chardonnay 87+ Points

Tasted recently, this 2004 Constantia Chardonnay is ageing at a very slow pace.
Clear, pale straw, bright, medium concentration, medium viscosity.

Clean, young, does not show it’s 5 and half years, at all, Old World austerity with notes of ripe lemon and lime, intermingle with hints of barley, honey and freshly baked meringue.

Dry, low plus acidity, medium alcohol, medium plus complexity, very fresh and lively, with excellent mid palate and length, big and powerful aftertaste.
Now until 2017, if cellared under optimum conditions.

2005 Klein Constantia Estate Riesling 85 Points

Clear, bright, pale straw, low plus concentration, medium viscosity.
Clean, starting to show bottle age character, terpene character evident with green limey notes and fleshy just ripe white peach.
Dry, medium plus acidity, crunchy, medium complexity, low plus alcohol, tight nutty mid palate.
This is a fine example of how a dry Constantia Riesling (proper) evolved after 4 and half years, will drink until 2017.
A food wine to be understood, for intellectual only

2008 Kling Sauvignon Blanc 82+ Points

2008 Kling Sauvignon Blanc 82+ Points

This is the first wine certified “Wine of Origin Hout Bay”, as a new classified ward, just outside Constantia, on the Atlantic side.

Made by Ross Gower in Elgin, this maiden vintage is clear, bright, straw, medium plus viscosity, medium concentration, clean, touch austere, with notes of ripe citrus segment, faint hint of crunchy greens, oily, touch honeyed, very promising mid palate weight.
Different, only 800 bottles made.

The Kling’s, Anne & Gordon, are to be applauded in pushing to make Hout Bay approved as a new Wine of Origin ward, and contribute to site specific of origin, along the way.

It is still early stage, but being on the westerly side and with afternoon sun, it could as well be something interesting coming out in time, as the vines get older.

Other wines release and available as Wine of Origin Hout Bay, from other wineries, besides Kling, did not elicit interest, when last tasted at the 2008 Champagne and Cap Classique festival in Franschhoek, rather coarse in texture, with cleanliness a bit of an issue, but it being a new wine region, I am sure they will catch up on their game.

2008 Spier Sauvignon Blanc 83+ Points

2008 Spier Sauvignon Blanc 83+ Points

Clear, pale straw, day bright, medium concentration and medium plus complexity.
Clean, young, good varietal definition, no wood.

Dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium plus complexity, very good freshness, multilayered, has personality.

Crunchy mouth feels and delicate, need +/- 2 years to get together, drink until end 2012.

2008 Elgin Vintners Sauvignon Blanc 81 Points

2008 Elgin Vintners Sauvignon Blanc 81 Points

Following the very good 2006, 2007 was lighter and more minerally driven with beautiful tight restraint.

The current release, seems sweeter, with notes of green pea, ripe asparagus, green lime and rather austere, not as exuberant as the 2006, nor close to the 2007.
Dry, fresh, for uncomplicated drinking now until 2012.

2008 Bizoe Henrietta 80+ Points

2008 Bizoe Henrietta 80+ Points

Maiden release of this limited production of only 2700 bottles.

Western Cape of Origin, wooded blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

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

Clean, fresh, primary fruit of green fig, citrus and green lemon, with interesting notes of white pebbles mineral, well supported by the vanillin French oak character.

Dry, low acidity, low plus alcohol, only 12.5 low complexity, shows the weaknesses of the vintage in terms of fruit definition and concentration, fine structure, but short on finish, the Semillon component may gain weight with time.

It would have been interesting to see how this wine would have fared, if it was made in a more, less rainy classic vintage?

There is potential here, and indeed a boutique Cape Bordeaux white blends, to watch.

NV Pongratz Rosé 75+ Points

NV Pongratz Rosé 75+ Points

New addition to this enduring Méthode Cap Classique old generation brand. Fancy packaging.

Pale salmon pink, shy and austere, very little aromatic complexity, with faint hints of red berries, simple.

Medium plus acidity, tart, not in balance, simple short aftertaste, rather one dimensional.

Considering the price, there is far more better Rosé Cap Classique available, even in their own stables, such as the magnificent JC Leroux Pinot Noir 2006, a mile ahead in quality, structure and complexity, and cheaper……… a marketing gimmick that’s guarantee to confuse the consumer when it comes to the appreciation of quality Rosé Cap Classique, caveat emptor

NV Weltevrede Estate Entheos Brut MCC

NV Weltevrede Estate Philip Jonker Entheos MCC Brut 80 Points

Clear, bright, pale gold straw, medium concentration, low plus viscosity, fine bubbles, clean, good balance between overt fruitiness and maturity.

Fresh, candied citrus, Madeira, touch rancio, old French wood evident, biscuit and shortbread, complexity, complimented by limestone minerality, medium complexity, low plus acidity, medium length.

Now until 2014, excellent value for money, good effort and style, should be followed.

TOMATO CATERING suggest : Great as an aperitif or with a Carpaccio of freshly caught Breede River Small Mouth Bass, scented with lime juice and zest, served with thin toast

For more information about TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan @

Saturday, June 13, 2009

2008 Beaumont Hope Marguerite 91 Points

2008 Beaumont Hope Marguerite 91 Points

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

Clean, fresh, young, ripe golden delicious apple, white canned pears, fleshy yellow peaches, complex, subtly intermingle with notes of jasmine, subtle oaking, light toast.

Minerally, with evidence of dusty clay and limestone character.

Dry, lively delicate fruits on palate confirms nose, high acidity, chiselled, medium alcohol, structured and tight mid palate, high complexity, very good length, finishes on a fresh honey / beeswax aftertaste.

Excellent now, but will develop until 2017.

After following vintages of Beaumont Hope Marguerite, since 2001, to date this is by far the best Sebastian Beaumont have ever made, this 2008 Hope Marguerite is a celebration of delicate fruit intensity, striking freshness, and expert oaking. Well done Sebastian.

A food wine by excellence and the type of Chenin Blanc any international fine dining venue, would seek for listing. This is the interpretation of Chenin Blanc that makes South Africa very special as a wine growing country.

Could this be an interpretation of Bot River terroir, as a definitive quality? To early to say, but time will tell, for the meantime, this is a highly recommended and definitely amongst the top 3 Chenin Blanc of South Africa, and would go as far as to say, it’s the finest of the New World I have tasted to date.

TOMATO CATERING suggest a duo of pan seared scallops and crayfish tail on pear and apple carpaccio, citrus zest medley, micro herbs and toasted pine nuts.

For more info on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan @

2006 Morgenster Tosca 88 - 90 Points

2006 Morgenster TOSCA 88 – 90 Points

Clear, bright, ruby cherry red, with slight purple rim, medium plus concentration, high plus viscosity.

Clean, fragrant, young, dark cherry, ripe plums, chocolate, complex notes of earthy tobacco character, captivating aromatics of Rosa tomato, so Italian.

Dry, medium plus tannin, medium acidity, medium plus alcohol, medium plus complexity, broad mouth feel, intense with salty minerality on the mid palate, spicy texture and good grip. Balance and structured.

Drink now with recommended aerating / decanting prior to enjoyment, +/- 2 hours, or cellar for 3 years, will reach peak at around 2017.

TOMATO CATERING suggest: Osso Bucco alla Milanese, which is braised veal shank, served with Gremolata (garlic, parsley and lemon zest)
To know more about TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan @

This maiden release of Stellenbosch, Helderberg ward Sangiovese, was from specific vine clones imported from Italy.

15 month in tight grain French oak, of which 45% were new.
85 % Sangiovese, complimneted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Would be welcoming to see South African pizzeria or other Italian concept dining venue, start supporting and listing Italian varietal grown in the Cape.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ondine and Ormonde Wines

Ondine & Ormonde Wines

2007 Ondine Cabernet Franc 76 Points

Clear, bright, russet red with slight brick rim.
Medium plus concentration, medium viscosity.
Clean, young, green red berries, peppery, earthy, and hints of dry chilli, high pyrazine.
Dry, confirms fruit, high alcohol, high acidity, low plus tannin, low plus complexity.
Showcasing warm climate growing condition.
Now until 2012

2006 Ormonde Vernon Basson 79 – 81 Points

Clear, bright, high concentration, ruby red with russet rim.
Clean, young, complex red berries, molasses, cranberries, tar, with touch of smoky cedar and sandal wood, medium toast, saw wood, earthy.
Dry, confirms fruit, new flavours of caramelised sugar, salty minerality, spicy, medium tannins, medium acidity, medium plus alcohol, medium complexity, juicy, spicy aftertaste.
Now until 2013

2008 Ormonde Sauvignon Blanc 80 Points

Clear, day bright, pale straw, medium concentration, low viscosity.
Clean, young, gooseberries, green kiwi, green apples skin, no wood, hints of white stone minerality add interest.
Dry, confirms nose, low plus acidity, some white pebbles and salt minerality on mid palate, low alcohol, low complexity.
Now until 2012

2008 Ondine Semillon 83 Points

Clear day bright, brilliant, pale straw with slight green tinge, medium concentration, medium viscosity, some gas evident.

Clean, young, grassy, peppery, with greengage note, good varietal definition from a Cape perspective, citrus zest, no wood.

Dry, confirms nose, medium acidity, medium alcohol, pithy and tight, no wood, some sandy minerality, medium complexity, will develop. Fine viticultural and winemaking effort.
Drink now until 2014

Please note that the Ormonde and Ondine range, also comprises of Sauvignon, Chenin, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, untasted, in this review.

Salty minerality thread, through all wines, unusual in the Cape, but very welcoming, could it be a particularity of Darling Wine of Origin?

I’m definitely on the looked out and will confirm in a few years

Sommeliers, wine buyers, wine collectors or anyone having a keen interest in South African wines, can follow my journal in exclusivity, free of charge (for now…) and be the first to know about my latest tasting discovery, join my professional network on, register and send me an invitation to connect, and you will be on my distribution list.


Miguel Chan

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2005 Zandvliet Robertson Shiraz 78 Points

2005 Zandvliet Robertson Shiraz 78 Points

Clear, garnet red, with slight brown rim, day bright, medium plus concentration, medium viscosity.

Clean, young but evolving, reaching secondary phase.

Macerated red dark fruit and cherries. Earthy, leathery and gamey, combination of older wood evident.

Dry, palate confirmed nose, herbal and leathery character, with some savoury notes of black olives follows through, medium acidity, medium plus tannins, high alcohol, not balanced, low plus complexity.

Drink now until 2014

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tiekhoek Grenache

Tierhoek review May 2008

2005 Tierhoek Grenache 85 – 87 Points

Lighter with slight brown rim, compared to 2004, fragrant, expressive, hugely complex aromas, spicy medley, red berry compote, but not overripe, light, delicate, textured ripe well integrated tannins, sweet plums, warming and spicy aftertaste.
This is the first time that Grenache, grown in the Cape makes all sense to me, definitely a wine to follow, as a believe with a little more in the vineyard, and lighter extraction, this could be a very interesting delicate wine.
From over 20 years old bush vine Grenache, grown at over 600 meters altitude.

2007 Tierhoek Chenin 78+ - 80+m Points

Baked ripe apples, sweet vanilla oak, well contained and managed, sweet entry, very soft and lacking acidity, good fruit concentration, well meshed with the wine structure, if it was not for the low acidity, this could have been an chenin.

2006 Tierhoek Straw Wine 85+ - 87+ Points

Peach, ripe apricot, lime zest, marmalade, sweet custard, creamy rich toffee, intense excellent integration of all components.

Vilafonté Verticals - Series M & Series C

Vilafonté Vetical Tasting

19 March 2008-03-20

Series M

2003 85+ - 87+ Points

Quite some sediment for a 2003 ? was the wine unfined and unfiltered ? otherwise clear, clean, fragrant, ripe red fruits, currants, cassis, complex with undertones of chocolate, dense and tight ripe tannins, will integrate over the next +/- 3-4 years, under proper cellaring conditions

2004 81 - 83 Points

Fragrant, with upfront mocha and toast character, lighter structure than 2003, complimented by softer tannin, very approachable now, has delicate red fruit aftertaste.

2005 88 - 90 Points

Austere, tight grippy tannins, dark red fruit, lurking behind, will opened up with time / cellaring / decanting, needs +/- 6 years for complete integration, thereafter enjoy until 2017

2006 88+ - 90+ Points

Ripe plums, clean pure fruited, mint, sweet fruit, ripe tannins, intense red fruits medley follows through, will need +/- 4 years cellaring, thereafter enjoy until 2018

2007 85 - 87 Points

Very fragrant, raspberry, ripe red fruits, lovely aromatics, very tight, slight bitterness distract, from otherwise very fine texture, will integrate earlier than the 2006, +/- 3 years cellaring, thereafter enjoy until +/- 2015.

Series C

2003 83 - 85 Points

Savoury gamey, slightly stalky, quite evolve for a 2003, tightly structured mid palate.

2004 86 - 88 Points

Toasty, sweet molasses, fragrant, very ripe blackcurrant, but not porty, sweet vanillin, delicate warming aftertaste, +/- 3 years

2005 91 - 93 Points

Earthy, lead pencil character, tight, grippy ripe tannins, meaty, big structure, needs +/- 6 years cellaring 2014 / 2015 savoury.

2006 89 - 91 Points

Lead pencil, earthy polished, clean, very complex dark red fruits, intense, ripe finished will integrate in +/- 5 years, will last +/- 12 years thereafter.

2007 87+ - 89+ Points

Fragrant, primary phase, sweet fruited, tight ripe tannins, big fruit structure, superb concentration, will be approachable earlier than 2006, is this a characteristic of the vintage ? a pattern that seems to follow through from other 2007 I have tasted in barrels, +/- 3 years cellaring thereafter will keep well for +/- 9 years.

Micu Narunsky Wines

Micu Narunsky Wines

Recently I had a tasting with Micu Narunsky, a garagiste producer specializing in Portuguese varietal blend, a rare dry Muscat as well as an experimental Pinot Noir.

All hand made, free run juice only, miminal use of new oak if any, respecting and preserving the fruit, and showcasing site expression.

What I am trying to say by that, is that if you taste the wines of Swartland of origin, there is a minerally thread, that is common, and Micu’s wine, shows a very fine streak of minerals as well as freshness, couple by vibrant and ripe Stellenbosch fruit, adding an instant seductive aromatic appeal.

It was great to taste the new vintages, after discovering it for the first time, in 2008.

To start with, it’s obvious that Micu, have really gone the extra mile in the vineyard, as the effort is starting to pay off very well, based on observation below/, they are wine made with passion, respect of delicate fruit, and best of all they are not overworked.

Lately I have made an observation on lots of new releases, with the average high yield of Cape vineyards (6 – 8+ tons/ hectares), winemakers tends to overworked their wines by trying to extract far too much, what the diluted yields bring…….which result in dead wine in the glass, with tannins extraction that will never softened, unless you are having a bull T bone steak………. But this observation does not apply to the wines below….

2007 Micu Narunsky Tinta Barocca / Touriga Nacional blend 86 – 88 Points

Clear, deep ruby red, with purple rim, bright, perfect colour extraction.
Medium plus concentration and medium viscosity, clean.
Primary forthcoming fruit of ripe mulberries, preserved cherries.
Pronounced earthy character, lending complexity, pure, fresh, with savoury notes of black olives, and Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and dried origanum.
Crisp acidity, delicate rolling tannins, textured and medium bodied.

If I had tasted the wine blind, I would have gone straight to Portugal, more precisely the Douro valley, kind of a Ramos Pinto style, albeit lesser fruit concentration.

Very good oaking, none new, pure expression of fruit,.

This blend of roughly 75 % Tinta Barocca and 25 % Touriga Nacional, comes predominantly from Stellenbosch fruit, off 12 – 15 years old trellis vineyard and the balance is from Swartland. There is a dash, but no percentage reveal, ah ha, winemakers secret, of Souzao, for acidity.

Excellent food wine, tried with paella, Chorizo based dishes, salted cod
Drink now until 2015

2007 Micu Narunsky Lemanja Flagship blend – 87 – 89 Points

Clear deep ruby red, saturated with purple rim, once again perfect colour extraction. High concentration, and medium plus viscosity. Clean.
Pure fruited, cassis, fragrant notes of dry rose petal, earthy hints of lead pencil, charcoal dust.

Very fresh and clean palate, beautiful restraint, will mingle with integrated tannins, tight mid palate, needs food, refreshing acidity, excellent unobtrusive oaking.

Delicacy, and elegance at it’s best, finely crafted.

Recommended with a roasted guinea fowl, root vegetables, brown mushroom and bacon bits, drizzled with it’s own jus.

From winter 2010 until 2017+, if you can’t resist, give it a whole day decanting, and pour back in the bottle prior to dinner.

2008 Micu Narunsky La Complicité 80+ - 82+

This is one of it’s kind in the Cape, a dry Muscat, made in an Alsatian style.
Clear, day bright, pale straw, with slight green tinge, low plus concentration and low plus viscosity.

Clean, young, with notes of lychees, (but not as pungent as a gewürztraminer) dusty white minerals, talc and musk spiciness, with hints of ripe pears, almost kind of ripe Pinot Grigio from the New World. Unwooded.

Drty, delicate, textured and fresh, leesy complexity on mid palate, lingering honeyed aftertaste.

Excellent as an aperitif with chicken or duck liver base, hors d’oeuvres, or simply with some poached green asparagus, prosciutto crudo and light chives dressings

Barrel sample, 2008 Pinot Noir Provisional rating 83+ / 85+ Points

Very interesting, the colour is near perfect, except for the slight brown rim.

"Clear, bright, ruby red with slight brown rim, medium concentration, medium plus viscosity, clean, young, good austerity, with aeration reveals fragrant notes of dark cherries, raspberry, and ripe strawberries, good balance between ripe, and just over ripe fruit, earthy core.

High alcohol, gives slight burning sensation, old wood, well coaxed with delicate fruit, medium plus acidity ,lends nerve and bright freshness.

Low plus tannins, medium lenght, but still early, will gain complexity with time, good mid palate structure and weight.

Upbringing still happening, this wine need another +/- 12 month in barrel, before bottling, will be closer to an 85+ by end 2010, or first quarter 2011.

To be enjoyed until 2014.

Good effort for a debut

Those of you interested in unusual, but highly rewarding individual wines with character and personality as well as food friendlyness, you can contact Micu Narunsky at :