Shows developed dark berry-fruit with soft spice on the nose; smoky black fruit with dry tannic grip and balanced acidity, finishing quite dry.
Boekenhoutskloof was established 1776 and today, in the hands of talented maverick winemaker Marc Kent, they are still kicking off great things, like the behemoth that is Chocolate Block, known in markets the world over (thanks to its 500,000 bottles per year). The 2015 Chocolate Block is a blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier and for the first time, this is all Swartland fruit. The 2015 also had a greater splash of Grenache than previous years, which is noticeable up-front on the massive florality here (the Grenache was matured in 600 L barrels to retain its fruity aromas and vibrancy). Mulberry, brooding black plum and kirsch on the full palate, one smooth and housed by fine, firm tannins. This is a polished wine, but not overtly so, with a textural fruitcake spicing throughout to a dark mocha finish. The wine matures in 1st (all the Cabernet Sauvignon), 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels (eight 2500 L French oak foudres) for 16 months before it undergoes a light egg-white fining and filtration.
This skinny Syrah is aptly named and labelled for Africa's famously skinny Nguni cattle. “Beeste” is the Afrikaans word for cattle, and “Wandering Beeste” was sourced from a farm high on Swartland’s Kasteelberg Mountain, sharing the steep, stony slopes with the wandering beestes. Young, lauded South African winemaker Donovan Rall oversees this line of wines from Boutinot, devoted to single-vineyard, terroir-expressive and low-intervention wines from around the Cape. This charming, bright, peppery red is half whole-berry, half whole-bunch, with sapid, resinous notes, perfumed blackberry, black cherry and a slate/stone base. Tannins are gritty but fine and the acidity is brisk. Anise lingers on the end. A lovely, fresh, authentic, charming, medium-bodied Syrah that speaks of place.
This is one of the Anthonij Rupert projects, now owned by the Rupert family and based on the L'Ormarins Farm in Franschhoek, dating back to the 17th century. This is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne from the decomposed Malmesbury shale slopes of the Riebeek-Kasteel mountains. 60-year-old Chenin bush vines make up the majority of this blend, one that was 10% new French oak-fermented and spent 9 months on the lees. Perfumed and full-bodied, with heady pear, quince paste and cream on a waxy base, propped with toasty oak. The finish is equally perfumed and polished, with a lingering honeyed grapefruit note. Reflections of richer Rhône.
Relatively young by South African standards (and a winemaking tradition more than 350 years old), Glen Carlou was founded in 1985 and is now in the hands of Hess Family Estates. This Chardonnay was sourced from 10 different sites in Paarl and picked over 3 weeks. After ferment, the wine spent an additional 10 months in barrel to knit. Rich and creamy, with waves of lemon curd, tangerine and sun-ripened pear. Acidity is lemon-lined and works to swell the weight. All this intensity is packaged in a 13.5% form, with a glow of warmth on the finish. A fuller style set to take on richer seafood or poultry.
Similar to last year, this remains a value gem on our market, a varietally true Chenin at a killer price. And that's not even considering this is from 20- to 40-year-old Swartland vines, partially dry-farmed and partially wild-fermented. There's also parts of this wine that were fermented and aged in stainless, some with French oak staves and some with a good swath of earthy, funky lees and a long, slow ferment for mouthfeel and texture. Did I mention the price? Shiny and bright, with juicy pear, apple, light herbal lees and ample tight citrus on a well-cushioned palate. A splash of 10% Chardonnay seems redundant, but it works. Youthful, vibrant and likeable — stock up.
Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier from 7 sites, some quite old, in Wellington; this was wild-fermented in very old French oak where it aged for 1 year on the lees before being blended and bottled. Creamy, expansive and textural, but with an effortless and gentle lightness from the thin, driving vein of acidity that streams along. Lovely ripe pear, quince and pear skin is balanced well with lees and the comfort of older wood. There is a kelp/saline note that weaves throughout the weighted, lees-lined palate, up to the fantastic buzzy lemon thistle along the warming (14%) finish. Chenin clearly rules here, with the rivet of acidity throughout to the slight bump of warmth on the finish.