Among the wines in the Stellenbosch at Summer Place line-up, Gravel Hill was one of the standouts among a number of stunners. The grapes are site specific from a poor parcel of dry, gravelly soil undermined with clay. Production is limited to 550 bottles – indeed an exclusive wine.
Given the care and treatment from the vineyard to the cellar, this is a full-bodied wine with huge structure. Yet it is elegant, with the peppery notes and smokiness normally associated with the cultivar. These flavours are complemented by black fruit flavours, mocha, and some notes of violets. The wine ends dry, with a long lingering finish. This is certainly a wine with which to spoil oneself in the company of others who can appreciate a special wine.
CP Conradie of Conradie Family Vineyards in the Nuy valley has produced this elegant yet complex wine from grapes that were sourced from three different vineyards in the Western Cape – 15 % Sémillon was handpicked in the Durbanville area, along with 40% Sauvignon Blanc from the Elim area and 45% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Darling. The grapes were transported in an enclosed, refrigerated environment and hand-sorted at the winery to preserve all the terrior-specific aromas.
The wine presents itself with an abundance of aromas and flavours, including granadilla, citrus blossom and ripe pear. The complex flavours repeat on the palate in a mouth-filling fashion while the Darling Sauvignon Blanc component ensures a zestiness and minerality that contributes to a pleasant and lingering finish. The whole experience also found favour with the judges at the recent Michelangelo International wine competition as it was awarded a gold medal.
Stellenbosch, hailed as the king of Cabernets, again produced a winner. In its unwavering quest for varietal excellence, Eikendal is making the most of Stellenbosch’s forté with its Eikendal Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Situated amidst some of South Africa’s top red wine producers on the slopes of the Helderberg, it is raising the bar as a top-flight Cabernet Sauvignon contender with its 2012 vintage.
Winemaker Nico Grobler describes his fifth vintage Eikendal Cabernet Sauvignon as ‘a serious red of elegant richness, great purity and focus, whilst reflecting the estate’s classic values’. The fruit from the nose follows through onto the palate, rich with a lot of depth, infused with ripe strawberries and a hint of sweetness. The wine is well able to handle the oak and has the body and structure to age exceptionally well – up to 20 years and beyond.
Beyers Truter is known as Mr Pinotage. This wine variety can be controversial in wine circles. Beyers was the man who, over the years, defended the cultivar and today the quality of wines from this cultivar certainly proves his point.
Pinotage Diesel is the pinnacle in Beyerskloof’s offering. The wine got its name from Beyers’ Grate Dane cross breed, which allegedly had the ability only to sample phenolicly ripe grapes in the vineyard.
This is a big structured Pinotage with intense dark fruit flavours, presenting itself with rich blackcurrent, dark cherries, prunes and ceder oak aromas. A complex middle leads to a smooth finish. This wine will mature beautifully over time.
In spite of new crazes in the SA wine world, there are still many wine connoisseurs who think our wine makers – especially from the Stellenbosch area – are doing exceedingly well in producing cabernet sauvignon. One of the reasons is that our climate allows the grape to mature properly on the vine.
Simonsig recently released The Garland 2008 – 100% cabernet originating from the slopes of Simonsberg. This wine is confirmation that SA cabernets can compete on the world scene. The wine has a fruity nose, followed by mouth flavours of mulberry and cherry. The wine-making process yields a wine with a sound structure that will richly reward those who are prepared to wait a few years before opening.
Wine estates often differentiate their wines on offer as they try to ‘pitch’ the wine in the correct market segment. We are spoiled in the segment of red wines that are easy drinking and sell at very reasonable prices.
Frontier slots perfectly into this bracket. It is bright ruby red in the glass. On the nose it presents itself with red fruit aromas of raspberry and plum, supported with hints of black cherry and cedar. The fruit dominates the palate but there is a subtle fynbos undertone. A lingering aftertaste completes the enjoyable experience.
Frontier is likely to feature regularly this winter.
For more information visit www.guardianpeak.com
Some wines in South Africa can claim that they are true to the terroir. This wine is certainly one of those. Over the years this wine has presented itself as a very complex wine with a distinctive herbal or kakiebos character. However, there is more to this wine.
In the 2011 vintage, the herbal and cedar character is supported by layers of black berries, dark chocolate and plums. This complex wine is well structured with fine tannins and incisive acidity. These characteristics combine to make Steenberg Merlot a wine worthy of a special occasion, even if that occasion presents itself over the next few years.
For more information visit www.steenbergfarm.com
Our warm summers beg for crisp white wine. However, by January most of us have reached a saturation point in terms of the acidity generally associated with Sauvignon Blanc. In South Africa we are blessed with an abundance of quality Chenin Blancs across the style and price spectrum.
Hope Marguerite falls in the category of a serious Chenin. It presents itself with vanilla, honey and lime flavours. The mouth feel is full and silky, ripe, with some tropical fruit balanced by the citrus character. The structure of the wine provides a lingering aftertaste, which makes this wine perfect to accompany food.
This is the time of the year we would hope to be forgiven for spoiling ourselves with an award-winning five-star wine. Hartenberg is renowned for its world-class Shiraz – produced under the leadership of veteran cellar-master, Carl Schultz. However, their Cabernet-led blend, the Mackenzie, has been awarded a prestigious five-star rating in the latest
Platter’s Wine Guide.
The wine presents itself with fynbos, violets and chocolate aromas on the nose. On the palate it has complex flavours of spicy fruit, chocolate and vanilla. It is, however, the depth, balance and fine structure with long finish that defines this wine. Buy now and cellar for years to come.
For more information visit www.hartenbergestate.com
In SA many producers only bottle pure Shiraz. However, in recent years some started blending it with a white cultivar, Viognier, and other Southern Rhone cultivars to produce a complex yet juicy wine. Hemel-en-Aarde producers have great wines from this category. A superb example is the Granum 2012.
This wine is made from Syrah and Mourvedre grapes (blended 84/16) grown on iron-rich granite soil on their Upper Hemel-en-Aarde property. Presented with attractive bright-red fruit and baking spice, the wine is pure and fresh with fine yet grippy tannins. Although elegant, its structure will endure for years to come.
As a wine drinker I am always searching for a wine that strikes a balance between complexity and drinkability. This wine fits the bill. The deep, dark colour in the glass provides a hint of what is yet to transpire. The nose is plummy, savoury and slightly oaky.
However, this wine is all about the palate. The abundance of fruit props up the structure of the wine. The fine tannins and natural acidity produces a silky mouthfeel and ultimately an elegant and most enjoyable wine-drinking experience.
For more information visit www.creationwines.com
The ultimate test for a wine remains its drinkability. During a recent trip to Botswana my co-travellers emptied this bottle before I could pour a second glass. The reason was obvious.
The wine presents itself with a deep-red colour in the glass. It is juicy with an abundance of berry and plum flavours complimented by floral and spice nuances. The mouthfeel is smooth, yet the fine and dry tannins and 14% alcohol provide a firm structure. This wine also has a long pedigree and was recently awarded a gold medal at the 2014 Old Mutual Trophy competition.
For more information visit www.saronsberg.com
Some of us have the wonderful prospect of a winter break in the bush. For these occasions, one needs top-quality wine that's gentle on the pocket. Alto Rouge fits the bill 100% – a stalwart among traditionalist wine drinkers.
This wine under-promises but over-delivers by a material margin. It presents as a dark ruby red and has powerful berry fruit with cigar box scents on the nose. The fruit repeats on the palate, supported by dark chocolate nuances followed by vanilla and oak spices. The firm structure and lingering aftertaste provides the finishing touches to a well-made and most drinkable wine.
For more information visit www.alto.co.za
As winter approaches it's time to drink wines that fit the season. Usually, Stellenbosch Cabernets rise to the occasion. I had the privilege to drink this Cabernet – one of the Christian Eedes Top 10 Cabernets – over the Easter weekend. It spoiled us with an outspoken nose of red current, cassis, perfume and subtle vanilla notes. The palate is a confirmation of the introduction. This is a complex, powerful and juicy wine, layered with cassis and ripe dark fruit. It's in perfect balance, with the ripeness in harmony with the acidity and fine dry tannin structure.
This is a wine to celebrate the change in season and enjoy with friends who appreciate the best of the best.
For more information visit www.delaire.co.za
Diemersdal recently made a name for itself by featuring strongly in local wine competitions and assessments. It offers a wide range of good Sauvignon Blancs and captured the imagination with its flagship red, MM Louw.
However, Diemersdal's red Bordeaux blend Private Collection 2011 presented itself as the real deal with aromas of chocolate, cedar, cherries and cassis. The fruit repeats itself on the palate. These flavours are complemented by a fine ripe tannin structure and integrated acidity, allowing for a long and pleasant aftertaste. Delicious on its own – as indicated by its inclusion in the Top 100 SA Wines – but it will also complement red meat dishes.
For more information visit www.diemersdal.co.za
When one googles 'beautiful lady', the search engine does not produce images associated with elegance! However, this wine is all about elegance – from the packaging to the last lingering notes of the aftertaste.
The wine introduces itself with lovely whiffs of rose petals and tropical fruit. These flavours follow through on the palate with the added complexity of Turkish delight and a litchi undertone. This feminine wine is a perfect match for Thai food.
Inspired by the wife of a former owner, the wine is part of Nederburg's hand-crafted Heritage Heroes collection.
For more information visit www.nederburg.com
Observing friends and family over the summer holidays, it seems as if chardonnay has made a comeback in South Africa.
De Wetshof has a long pedigree of producing a wide range of top-quality chardonnays. Bon Vallon is an unwooded chardonnay with wonderful complexity as a result of spending time on the lees after tank fermentation. Although the wine presents green apple and citrus flavours, tropical and butterscotch undertones provide fullness to the mouthfeel.
This wine clinched a double-gold Veritas Award.
For more information visit www.dewetshof.com
A wine that has won the prestigious Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande trophy for best blended red wine at the International Wine and Spirit awards for the fourth time, deserves to be an icon.
The 2009 vintage has been hailed as the top red wine vintage of the decade. Spending two years in new wood in the cellar, this full-bodied red displays a complex bouquet with blackcurrant, red berry, mocha and spicy flavours.
Available at Kanonkop Wine Estate in my favourite format, a magnum bottle!
For more information visit www.kanonkop.co.za
With summer comes the joy of promising whites, and Groote Post, a West Coast estate, has established itself as a reliable producer of quality wines, specifically sauvignon blanc.
Good growing conditions and a consistent weather pattern ensured quality fruit-driven flavours of lime, gooseberry and kiwi to dominate the palate. It is also underpinned by a thread of minerality and acidity that provides a fresh mouthful and lingering aftertaste.
For more information visit www.grootepost.com
Pinotage is a controversial grape. You either love it or you hate it. Johan Malan, Simonsig cellar master, would say the Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2006 speaks for itself. 'No need to defend the wine.'
It has been awarded five stars in the Platter's wine guide 2006, it's received a Double Gold Veritas and was included in the 2012 Absa Top 10 Pinotages. The wine is vibrant with dominant red-fruit flavours of mulberry and raspberry, which provide it with a rounded mouth, as well as a hint of liquorice. Soft tannins and acidity balance the wine and ensure that this complex wine wins any Pinotage debate.
For more information visit www.simonsig.co.za
By the end of last summer I just had had enough of drinks that at times tastes like a guava, passion fruit and asparagus cooldrink blend.
This wine reminds me why Sauvignon Blanc is potentially great. Named Best Unwooded Sauvignon Blanc at the Old Mutual Trophy 2013 competition, it presents with an array of primary fruit flavours on the nose. However, the palate is complex: the fruit flavours find good support from fresh acidity and a lingering flinty aftertaste. Put it on your wish list for your first long spring lunch.
For more information visit www.cederbergwine.com
Some wine commentators believe that South African Cabernet producers are being challenged for supremacy by Rhône-style blends from the Swartland area.
Top Cabernets from the Stellenbosch area, however, will put doubt in the minds of the Swartland fans. This Jonkershoek producer now confirms the ward's reputation for fine Cabernet. The wine presents itself as dense and powerful, with a ripe, fine tannin structure and flavours of cassis, plum and other black fruit on the palate. It's truly a wine for when you wish to spoil yourself.
For more information visit www.stark-conde.co.za
A couple of years ago, a French cooper had a 'blind' glass of South African Cabernet Sauvignon to test his opinion and to guess the origin of the wine. He was ecstatic about the wine and also made no mistake in naming the origin without a moment's hesitation.
The Cabernet has not relinquished its roots over the years. It is typically Stellenbosch in terms of the primary aromas. Yet it also offers a mint character without putting off the consumer. According to this cooper – it is the perfect wine.
This wine is a joint venture between Jean Engelbrecht (Rust en Vrede) and two friends. The dark ruby coloured wine is a four-way blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose reveals that something big and special is about to follow. The palate is layered with an abundance of fruit, black berries and plum, and the aftertaste is long and satisfying. However, this wine is all about structure.
The tannins are robust but not harsh, the acidity is just enough to provide backbone and the wood treatment provides the perfect finish to this complex wine. It's the perfect partner for a good steak.
The Weathergirl is a 60/40 blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. Though subtle relative to Durbanville style, the wine is complex, mouth-filling and has a lingering dry, limey aftertaste. The nose shows flintiness and ripe figs, and on the palate the wine presents itself with smooth creaminess, rounding off the ripe fig, stone fruit and herbaceous characters.
It is a wine that asks for a second glass. I will cellar it for a few years as the structure allows for bottle aging.
For more information visit www.theberrio.co.za
Grapes from the Durbanville region are much in demand for the production of sauvignon blanc, since the cool climate and the decomposed granite soils are ideal conditions for growing this particular cultivar. Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is an excellent example of a Durbanville sauvignon blanc, with its excellent balance of fruit and acidity.
This wine is a typical example of a good Durbanville sauvignon blanc, with its typical pyrazine dustiness followed by lime, minerality and green apple. The fruit is pure and the acidity provides structure. This intense wine finishes with a touch of spice to add to the complex mouth feel. It will reward cellaring.