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Myrna Robins

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News

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What a pleasure to discover a “new” chenin, and one that is quite delicious and a tad different. It’s crafted from grapes thriving in an unlikely area by a talented (and modest) cellarmaster in the heart of the Klein Karoo.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that I only got to hear about Kluisenaar 2017 by Le Sueur Wines via a roundabout route, as a recluse - as Louis van der Riet has named his creation - does not look for publicity…

But when you get a product as enjoyable as this, with a nice vineyard story to boot, the news is bound to get out…

Louis van der Riet, (le Sueur is his middle name) has been making port and other good wines for De Krans for many years. He has also long held an ambition to make his own wines – a dream that was realised in 2014 when he released his maiden vintage.

Focussing on the Swartberg where the vines deliver harvests that are used mostly for bulk blends, Louis spent much time hunting down lone vineyards of chenin blanc that are hidden among the masses. Having found a few, reclusive, promising  and unloved, he became involved with their wellbeing.  Eventually he was able to transport their harvest to De Krans where he crushed the grapes and cooled the juice before pumping to barrels: one third new French oak, the remainder older wood where it fermented naturally and undisturbed for 10 months. No added yeasts, no fining nor filtering before bottling, so Louis claims, with good reason, that this is a chenin “made from nature, by nature”

Low alcohol levels of 12,5 % feature in this limited edition of 1 550 bottles, the wine offers stone fruit and melon flavours, a hint of toffee and vanilla discernible on the palate. Dry ,with enjoyable fresh acidity, all nicely balanced in a chenin of charm and intrigue. Available from the De Krans cellar in Callitzdorp for R175. Looking at his website, I see there’s a highly rated pinotage/cinsaut blend in stock and a merlot on the way. Book at De Krans for tastings and sales.

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Not at all surprised to read that this unpretentious red blend is Delheim’s top-selling wine. What’s not to like about a captivating ruby-hued wine, medium-bodied, aromatic and fruity, that slips down as an enjoyable aperitif? It also goes on to happily accompany a range of home-cooked favourites, from mac’n cheese to chicken pie, from vegetarian pizzas to bangers and mash. It’s a wine that takes to weekend braais with equal enthusiasm, partnering chicken sosaties, boerewors and ribbetjies and yes, will be as happy paired with burgers, with pasta, with toasted cheese and tomato...

You get the picture. But what lifts this accessible value-for-money above many competitors is that it’s been made with care, offering consumers a delicious meld of shiraz aromas, fruit and spices that are well balanced by typical characteristics of cab. It sells for R85, is vegan-friendly with moderate 13,5% alcohol levels and offers a fine choice for everyday autumn sipping as our menus start to reflect seasonal changes.

Delheim marketers suggest that it will also enhance mushroom dishes, reminding us that their famous funghi foraging days are scheduled for mid-June. Seeing that the farm doesn’t produce a pinot noir, the Delheim Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 will no doubt take on this role as well.

Delheim shared a couple of mushroom recipes with us, one of which I have featured in the food section of this website.

Cheers and bon appétit.

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The name intrigues – Seasalter is, according to Nick Pentz, a mediaeval village in Kent that was engaged in salt production during the Iron Age – and transported to the Darling Hills as a moniker  for a superior sauvignon blanc. As one would expect, this is a wine that reflects Groote Post’s proximity to the Atlantic coast, with hints of kelp and saline touches between the friskiness, flint and some citrus and green fruit.

Seasalter 2018 also offers complexity, partly provided by its component of 10% Semillon and partly because half the wine matured in French oak for eight months before being blended into the rest which fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The characteristic Darling dustiness is just apparent, and the whole is a zesty, layered, distinctive sauvignon well reflecting its west coast terroir. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% are in keeping. Its simple white label adds an image of those white sands, the two seagulls seem to be having quite a battle with the south-easter, and turquoise touches reflect the Atlantic at its soothing best.

Earlier vintages were limited to members of the farm’s wine club, but the 2018 vintage is accessible to all, and this flagship sauvignon blanc sells for around R140.

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Winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger has joined other talented young Cape winemakers in their quest to re-introduce cabernets that are lent berried elegance from cinsaut, a practice that produced many of the long-lived cabs of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s of the last century.

This makes the Revenant title of this False Bay Vineyards red particularly relevant, just as it applied to the maiden wine in this range, the blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc, which made a stellar debut.

Revenant Red 2017 is the second, combining 80% cabernet from vineyards varying in age from 10 to 15 years with grapes from cinsaut bush vines up to 40 years old.

The cab harvest was slow fermented with natural vineyard yeasts, was foot-stomped twice daily after a three-day whole-bunch carbonic fermentation. The cabernet and cinsaut were aged separately for nine months in older oak before being blended and then matured in 600 litre barrels for a year before bottling.

The nose presents vibrant red fruit aromas, while the palate is well-balanced, with quite firm tannins and is medium-bodied with moderate 13,5% alcohol levels. As with its predecessor, the wine also reflects something of a light, feminine touch that distinguishes it from most other cabs, a feature that winemaker Nadia integrates into her creations with charming results. At R100 it is also competitively priced in a market where Stellenbosch cabs often command stellar prices. It's certain that many will welcome this rebirth of a classic cab.

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Waterkloof owner Paul Boutinot has established his biodynamic vineyards and cellar on the hillside above False Bay. False Bay Vineyards, his second range, is not biodynamic, but its wines are treated in similar environmentally-friendly ways, using natural yeasts, minimal processing, and sans fining before bottling. 

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Going, going gone! It could be something of a record: The Bruwer family launched their maiden Albariño in Hout Bay on the first Monday in February and by mid-month the last of the 600 cases had sold, both from cellar door and the online shop.

Frustrating both to those Springfield wine fans who didn’t move fast enough and to newcomers who thought they would sample the new addition on their next visit to Robertson.

Better news is that the 2019 vintage is likely to be a little larger in quantity – the grapes were harvested yesterday, February 13, so let me tell you more about this irresistible white wine that the Bruwer family enjoy as much as do those lucky customers who  hugging their case closely to their chests...

Albariño is a new cultivar – new that is to the Cape winelands - but a Spanish varietal widely grown in Galicia, in the north-west. It made its 

 way to Portugal where it's known as Alvarinho, used in vinho verde, familiar to legions of South African travellers to Mozambique, and also to South America where Uruguay produces a fine example, and one that enchanted the Bruwer family while on holiday there. They returned, determined to acquire some vines for their farm.

Luck was on their side as the Newton Johnson family of the Hemel-en-Aarde valley had had similar ideas and kindly offered Springfield some of their cuttings.

These were carefully planted and nurtured, slowly multiplying over three years until a single block was established, and one that meets the demanding standards that Springfield estate sets for their grapes.

Earlier this month Abri, Jeanette and Jenna Bruwer gathered at Hout Bay to host curious media to the official launch of their limited edition Springfield Albariño 2018, its retro front label eye-catching, brick-red writing on a cream background, the language of choice pertinently Spanish, with just a strap at the bottom in English, identifying this unique Robertson estate.

This is a full-bodied wine, yet pleasing in having alcohol levels of just 12,5% . It is unwooded, the grapes having been harvested exactly a year ago. The wine spent more than 3 months on primary lees before bottling. There is complexity in its structure, offering the palate a delightful balance of stone fruit and the flint that wines from this terroir usually display. It’s also as fresh as a daisy without being over-acidic: All in all this South African Albariño yields mouthfuls of deliciousness that are a little redolent of the ocean: one does not need a dish of prawns on the table to know that it will partner shellfish with panache. But it also makes a charming aperitif and I imagine that the Uruguayan Albariño would have a tough time competing with its Cape counterpart.

Just 6 000 bottles of numbered bottles were produced, selling at R115 a bottle  from the cellar door. Perhaps Springfield will start a waiting list after harvest for the 2019 vintage - happily they have assured us that their journey with Albariño has only just begun.

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