Friday, May 11, 2012

KWV The Mentors: a journey to excellence

10 May 2012  by KWV

The story of KWV The Mentors begins with a vision to produce wines that honour the diversity of terroir and climate that influences the different styles of wines from South Africa. It is a pursuit of excellence that is bound only by a vision of supreme quality and begins with the vine.

Only the best vineyards are chosen to supply grapes for the making of the KWV The Mentors range. Finding and nurturing this bounty is the task of a team that seeks both consistency in quality from South Africa’s established wine regions as well as the opportunity for innovation often found in the vineyards of younger wine regions. A vineyard might for example be relatively young, but these often produce a variety of fruit flavours that add complexity to a wine.

Climate is a cornerstone, contributing to among others the attainment of sublime balance between sugar and acid, and the gradual development of intense flavours in wines of stature. Irrigation levels and canopy structure are considered. Harvesting methods contribute too, and some vineyards present the best fruit sometimes simply because of their having been hand-pruned and harvested.

Over time and through vintages the team sometimes comes across parcels of vineyard that are unique. Vines might be old; a vineyard might have a high altitude, a cooI southern slope and exceptional balance of fruit, and vine growth might be observed; or, by hook or by crook, the wine might just shine in the cellar every year. The vineyards or parcels from blocks are chosen because each has some unique characteristic. One golden thread that ties them all together is balance and as such represent the nature of the vineyard site from which the wine was made.

Harvesting grapes for KWV The Mentors begins towards the end of January when the fruit begins to reach optimum ripeness, and continues through to the end of March. Picking takes place at the coolest times of the day, critical especially in the white varieties. Red cultivars can be picked later because they are kept in cold storage overnight.

Even the craftsmanship of the age old cooperage tradition plays a role. Skilful selection of oak by cooper, forest type and toasting level, all to ensure that the true grape attributes and fruit characteristics are complemented and amplified by the wood.

It is only once the winemaking team is satisfied that a wine meets the highest standard does it qualify as a “Mentor”.

‘2011 was an exceptional year for the Mentors range as it performed well in both international and local competitions. The Mentors range typifies our pursuit of excellence and quality, and epitomises the new KWV energy. Paving the way for future successes from this range we remain optimistic that 2012 will produce as many if not more medal winners from this range,’ says Brand Director, Jeff Gradwell.

Recent releases in The Mentors range include:

Chardonnay 2011 - A well balanced and medium bodied wine, displaying the true characters of cool climate Chardonnay from Elgin. The nose has beautiful floral, citrus blossom and apricot aromas with fresh lime and mineral tones. This elegant wine has subtle hints of cedary oak, raw almonds with a lively and persistent lingering finish. Barrel matured for nine months and also in the bottle for six months prior to release. This wine retails for approximately R120 per bottle.

Grenache Blanc 2011 - This refreshing wine displays a variety of flavours on the nose and palate. Aromas of orange peel, mandarin and Granny Smith apples transcend into a rich, generous and flavoursome palate of white peach, mineral, lime and spice. The palate is creamy and layered with subtle aromas of cedar oak which is fresh and persistent. This wine retails for approximately R120 per bottle.

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - Bursting with gooseberry, green pepper and floral aromas, the wine expresses upfront varietal characters of Sauvignon Blanc. The palate has a juicy concentration and intensity of flavours, such as passion fruit, lemon grass and lime. The seamless palate ends with a crisp finish. This wine retails for approximately R120 per bottle.

Semillon 2011 - On the nose this wine is fresh and lively with floral, apple, lime and subtle lemon grass. The wine has a refined palate with some biscuit and creamy flavours with a fresh and zesty natural acidity. This wine retails for approximately R120 per bottle.

Viognier 2011 - The nose delivers upfront, varietal expressive characters, such as green figs, musk, peach and orange blossom aromas. The palate delivers flavours such as lemon, grapefruit and apricot, with a touch of marzipan and nougat on the finish. Whilst our 2011 Viognier is a more elegant style it demonstrates great finesse and structure. This wine retails for approximately R120 per bottle.

Cabernet Franc 2011 - Aromas of spice, pencil shavings and white chocolate transcends into a complex layered pallet, finishing with silky soft and persistent tannins. The dried fruit and fruit cake flavours further add to the complexity of this unique and extraordinary wine. This wine retails for approximately R180 per bottle.

Canvas 2010 - This full bodied wine explodes with fresh cherry, blueberry and marzipan characters with hints of cherry tobacco. The wine is fresh and lively with soft, juicy tannins which are complimented with 16 months barrel maturation. This wine retails for approximately R180 per bottle.

Orchestra 2010 - As with a fine Orchestra, this blend showcases the unique individual attributes of the different varietals, but together delivers a complexity beyond the sum of the components. This complex red wine shows layers of rich red berry fruit, marzipan and savoury aromas which are complimented with subtle integrated nuances of cedar and cigar box. The palate is soft and textured with hints of pepper, clove and spice. The finish is smooth and lingering. This wine retails for approximately R180 per bottle.

Pinotage 2010 – Juicy blackberry and plum aromas are complimented by notes of ginger, cloves and dark chocolate with soft floral nuances. On the generous and persistent palate the wine is juicy and well rounded with persistent silky smooth tannins. This wine retails for approximately R180 per bottle.

Shiraz 2010 - This expressive wine on the nose has upfront plum and sour cherry, dark chocolate with savoury nuances. The palate is rich and smooth with hints of pepper spice. This wine retails for approximately R180 per bottle.

I am doing a full review of the impressive range of KWV The Mentors new vintages, more to follow soon with scores and tasting notes