Monday, November 23, 2009

2007 Riebeek Cellars Chenin Blanc 82 Points

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

2006 Stellenbosch Hills Chenin Blanc 68 Points

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

2005 Rhebokskloof Rhebok Paarl Chenin Blanc 69 Points

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

2002 Uitkyk Cabernet / Shiraz Simonsberg 75+ Points

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

2003 Buitenverwachting Meifort Constantia 79+ Points

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

2004 Waterford Estate CWG Bordeaux Blend, Stellenbosch 82 Points

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

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

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

2002 Muratie Estate Ansela Van de Caab 80 Points

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

2006 Iona Elgin Syrah 81+ Points

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

NV Cabriere Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose 82+ Points

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

2005 Rustenberg John X Merriman Simonsberg Stellenbosch 81 Points

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

2007 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 85 Points

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 Two Oceans Western Cape Pinot Noir 85 Points

A good initiation to South African Pinot Noir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

2006 Towerkop Chenin Blanc 72 Points

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

2006 Napier Wellington Greenstone Chenin Blanc 70 Points

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

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

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

2006 Laibach Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 69 Points

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

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

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

2006 Blue Cove Robertson Chenin Blanc 71 Points

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

2006 Flagstone Cellar Hand Swartland Chenin Blanc 87 Points

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

2005 Raats Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 73+ Points

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

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

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

2006 Ken Forrester Stellenbosch Chenin blanc 72+ Points

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

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

2008 Sir Lambert Sauvignon Blanc 91 Points

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

2005 Engelbrecht Els Stellenbosch 81 Points

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

2006 Graham Beck Western Cape Blend Brut Rosé 84 Points

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

2004 Uitkyk Carlonet Simonsberg Stellenbosch 80 Points

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

2006 Herold Outeniqua Merlot 82+ Points

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

2007 Steenberg Vineyards Constantia Semillon 86+ Points

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

Koelenbosch 2008 Chenin Blanc Houtverrouderd 77 Points

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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

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

2006 Meerendal Estate Durbanville Chardonnay 78+ Points

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

2006 Du Preez Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 75+ Points

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

2006 Mountain Oaks Slanghoek Chardonnay 75 Points

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

2005 La Chimere Franschhoek Chardonnay 78+ Points

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

2007 Tukulu Organically produced Groenekloof Chardonnay 83 Points

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

2006 Alvi's Drift Barrel Fermented Worcester Chardonnay 76 Points

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

2005 Joubert Tradauw Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 72+ Points

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2007 Kloovenburg Swartland Chardonnay 77 Points

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

2005 Deetlefs Estate Breedekloof Chardonnay 73 Points

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

2005 Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay 75+ Points

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

2006 Jason Hill Rawsonville Chardonnay 74 Points

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

2006 La Couronne Franschhoek wooded Chardonnay 74+ Points

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

2006 Koelfontein Ceres Chardonnay 82+ Points

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2006 Ormonde Darling Chardonnay 85 Points

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

2006 Eagles Cliff Worcester Chardonnay 72 Points

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

2006 Rupert Rothschild Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 80+ Points

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

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

2004 Buitenverwachting Constantia Merlot 75 Points

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

2008 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc 72+ Points

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

2005 Journey's End Destination Stellenbosch Chardonnay 85 Points

2005 Journey’s End Destination Stellenbosch Chardonnay 85 Points

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

2006 Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 82+ Points

Waterford Estate Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 82+ Points

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

2005 Havana Hills Virgin Earth 81 Points

Virgin Earth 2005 81 Points

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

The Goose Upper Langkloof Sauvignon Blanc 89 Points

The Goose Upper Langkloof Sauvignon Blanc 2008 89 Points

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

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

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

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

2004 Marianne Estate Floreal 81 Points

Marianne Estate Floreal 2004 81 Points

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

2004 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 86+ Points

2004 Tokara Zondernaam Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 86+ Points

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

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

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

Now until 2013

2006 L'Avenir Simonsberg Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 81 Points

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

2007 Thelema Sutherland Elgin Chardonnay 85 Points

2007 Thelema Sutherland Chardonnay Elgin 13.5% 85 Points

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

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

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

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

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

11 July 2008

2006 Steenberg Vineyards Constantia Nebbiolo 87 Points

2006 Steenberg Vineyards Nebbiolo Constantia - 14 % 87 Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2004 Le Bohneur Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 74+ Points

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

2003 Morgenster Estate 91 Points

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

2006 Koelenbosch Stellenbosch Pinotage 76 Points

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

The true expression of South African Merlot

The true expression of South African Merlot

Caveat Emptor - Consumer beware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Midlands Merlot Nouveau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Group Sommelier for Southern Sun Hotels

Article courtesy of

First group sommelier for Southern Sun

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

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

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

To rival the best

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

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

[2 Oct 2009 12:47]

Miguel Chan, Certified Sommelier on Classic FM

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

1949 KWV Port 92 Points

1949 KWV Port 92 Points

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

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

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

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

Inimitable Miguel Chan

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

2005 Spier Bluegum Merlot 77 Points

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

2005 Spier Private Collection 77+ Points

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

2007 Koelfontein Chardonnay 85 Points

2007 Koelfontein Ceres Chardonnay 85 Points

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

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

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

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

Drink now until 2014

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spier Private Collection 2005 Shiraz 79+ Points

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

Spier Private Collection 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 78 Points

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