South Africa Month - part 2
First published 28th September 2017
There's not long left in September, but that doesn't mean we've stopped caring about South African wine just yet, to be honest we will probably still care about South Africa next month as well. Below you'll find a few of the South African wines I personally adore. You may have noticed that I tend to champion some of the more obscure stuff we stock, but don't worry, there's a nice Chardonnay at the end.
The Liberator Episode 7 Swartland Evolution
I was recently misquoted in the press, the article in question stating that I'd declared Cinsault my favourite grape. While favourite may be a step too far, I won't deny that there's some very exciting wine being produced with the variety.
Swartland Revolution is made by Andre Van Rensburg, head winemaker for Vergelegen, a man more usually known for his Stellenbosch based output. This wine represents his (rather successful) attempt at a classic Cinsault, Cabernet Cape blend.
The wine has wonderful aromas of strawberries, cranberry and blackcurrant with subtle herbaceous notes. On the palate the Cabernet adds depth and structure to bright fruit character of the Cinsault. This is beautiful stuff.
Tim Martin Wines Qaisar Mourvedre
In the mid 2000's Tim Martin quit a job in finance to pursue his dream of making wine, based in Cape Town, he specialises in minimal intervention wines. Qaisar is a Mourvedre from organic vineyards in Swartland. Whole bunch pressed at his modern winery, and fermented in an open topped French oak fermenter, the wine is mostly left to its own devices before ageing in old oak barrels for 11 months.
The wine has floral aromas, deep black fruit and a leathery spiciness. It has deep, concentrated fruit and earthy, peppery notes on the palate with silky tannins and and a long finish.
Leeuwenkuil, from the Voor-Pardeberg region, is the first cellar in South Africa to launch a single varietal Marsanne. The grapes are picked early and whole bunch pressed to retain their acidity, before ageing for eight months in French oak. The resulting wine is packed with ripe tropical fruit, with hints of vanilla and more floral aromas. On the palate the wine is rounded and fleshy, with good acidity and a lingering mineral aftertaste. Compared to some of the rounder, heavier Marsannes around, this is a delightfully refreshing wine, with a ton of character.
De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay
Since the 1970s De Wetshof Estate has been a pioneering producer of Chardonnay in the Robertson wine valley. Producing a range of styles, each bottling is a unique expression of the range of terroir across their estate.
Bon Vallon is an unwooded style, fresh and expressive with extended lees contact. The wine has aromas of citrus fruit and ripe peach with a subtle nuttiness. In the mouth the wine is richly textured with bold fruit characters and refreshing acidity. For the money, this is one of the best Chardonnays on our shelves.