New-World wine? Fairview Cellar was established in 1693. That's right — Columbus era. This is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Petit Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault from Paarl, aged in tanks and barrels. Ripe, juicy and smooth, this medium- bodied, easy-drinking red carries smoked meats, cherries and stewed cassis to a short, clipped finish. There's a driving level of VA and some reduction brewing underneath the surface of this screw-capped wine which detract. That said, partnership with smoky beef ribs will mitigate.
I last tasted this vintage in 2015, when it first came onto our market. I was surprised to see the 2013 now, 2 years further along, and suspect it has something to do with sales flow rather than cellaring strategy. The smoke and leather in this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc are still evident, but more pronounced with age, and the wine is now showing oxidative, OXO notes. Tannins are sticky and the spicing is 5-star. Drink now, either off the shelf or in your cellar, with Asian-spiced ribs.
Interesting blend of 4 varietals, of which the Chardonnay speaks loudest. Clear medium-deep gold. Fairly strong nose of citrus and apple with pronounced French oak. Full-bodied with a long finish and so much rich fruit (citrus, peach, apricot) it tastes almost off-dry. Only gets this score if you like oak. Will last a couple more years.
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.