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Not before time has winter moved into the Western Cape. This time the Robertson valley and our little village of McGregor have also benefitted from rain, and the veld in the nature reserve filled the air with fresh, herby aromas this morning.

Two wines of pleasing quality added great pleasure to mellow autumn days recently which is why I have paired them in this review.

Cape chardonnay can be very rich and intense, which has me leaning toward the unwooded examples. But Fleur du Cap’s unfiltered chard 2015 is a delight in every aspect, as it retains an elegance and restraint that few wooded ones do. Made by their white winemaker Kristin Basson from Stellenbosch grapes, it offers layered flavour that’s never intrusive, in spite of quite high alcohol levels. It partnered Spanish poultry particularly well, but would complement a range of autumn dishes with relaxed flair. It sells for around R119.



A delicious rosé is nearly always the choice when it comes to late summer al fresco lunches and gourmet picnics. The very title - Gabriëlskloof Rosebud 2016 – brings to mind a pink off-dry partner for strawberry desserts. How wrong this prediction was! This is a dry and delightful rosé, a meld of shiraz and viognier, with enough structure and zest to take on a range of Provencal and Asian classics. It is well worth its R70 price-tag, and is one of the best pinks sampled in a long while.

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The 2002 shiraz was launched in 2004, its Constitution Road name marking its winery’s home address in Robertson as well as 10 years of South African democracy under its new constitution.

Today, some 12 years later, the SA constitution is doing valuable work in upholding various aspects of that democracy while the flagship 2012 shiraz - complete with its new label illustrating the four democratic pillars – continues to offer consumers a rich, succulent wine, aromas of dark plum and blackberry leading to well-structured flavours, spice complemented with a hint of chocolate and a long finish. Along with its four –and-half-star Platter rating, it attracted awards at Decanter World wine, Syrah du Monde, and both the Shiraz SA Challenge and Michelangelo back home.

As the shiraz comes into its own to complement warming winter fare, it now  boasts a partner: Robertson Winery's 2014 Constitution Road chardonnay is a worthy companion, a full-bodied classic , with citrus and toast on the nose, followed by flavours of marmalade and butterscotch, vanilla pointing to its time in new French oak and enough zest to maintain freshness. It will hold its own with a range of dishes from richly sauced poultry and seafood to luscious cheesecake on the dessert plate. It follows its partner by attracting international recognition, in this case from the 2016 Chardonnay du Monde.

The syrah sells for around R180 and the chardonnay is priced at R110. Both are likely to benefit from cellaring - one wonders how many consumer will do this... 

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It’s always a pleasure to sample the elegant reds of Constantia Glen, (although I routinely seem to miss out on their two whites – the sauvignon blanc and their highly-rated Bordeaux-style white blend, called, appropriately, Constantia Glen Two.)

This week I tried the latest vintage, 2011, of their Five, which was released six months ago, and sells at R330 from the farm. This is their flagship blend, comprising 31% cab, 27% merlot, 17% petit verdot, 15%, finished with 10% malbec. The vineyards are sited high on the Constantiaberg, the cool climate lending characteristic expression and structure, while winemaker Justin van Wyk maintains that the extra hours of sunlight enjoyed by the lofty site adds optimal tannins and well rounded ripe flavours. Cassis and dark cherry evident along with substantial but subtle tannins and a delicious mouthfeel.

It matured in new French oak for 18 months, and although rich and complex already, is certain to evolve into a spectacular companion to fine fare five years down the line. An investment that promises rewards for patience.

The distinctive Constantia 1685 bottle sports a 4and half star Platter sticker and a 92% score from Tim Atkin MW.

Their tasting room is open seven days a week .                        

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It's in danger of becoming a broken record phrase, but I must repeat that Doran continues to offer exceptional value for money. Keeping retail prices for two three-year-olds -  a rich, complex,  oaked chenin b2ap3_thumbnail_doran-2.jpg and a fruity shiraz  to under R80 is great news b2ap3_thumbnail_doran-2.jpgfor cash-strapped consumers. At a time when some industry and media players are bemoaning the fact that our wines are not priced at anywhere near the high levels that they should be, local wine-lovers can only roll their eyes and stay with Paardeberg farms like Doran.

The 2013 barrel-fermented chenin comes adorned with its 2016 Platter four and half star sticker. It's a perfect April wine, presenting a mix of seasonal autumn fruits - pear, apple and quince all comfort- baked in a deep dish - and sells for R75 from the farm. The 2013 shiraz (R79)was rated four stars by Platter, is aromatic and juicy, fruity, but not without substance, made in the New World style. With alcohol levels at 14,5 it will not please those seeking austere continental elegance, but a large percentage of shiraz fans will happily pair it with many a  casserole and weekend roast.

As with Martin Lamprecht's recently -released maiden red and white blends,  I think the chenin outstrips the shiraz in quality, but perhaps that's the brilliance of Swartland chenin versusthat of the syrah vines.

Incidentally, I wonder why these two flagship blends, Incipio and Arya are not listed on the Doran vineyard website?





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b2ap3_thumbnail_boplaas-verdelho-blend.jpgContinued my newfound enthusiasm for verdelho with a maiden white from the Cape's port capital: Boplaas Cape Portuguese white blend 2015 comprises half verdelho with 27% chardonnay and 23% sauvignon blanc. It's fruity, frisky and fun but its affordable R40 cellar price tag belies the fact that this is a summer white with some structure and flavours that linger. Of course Calitzdorp is the right place to find verdelho and Boplaas is the cellar on which  we rely, expecting  the Nel family to  produce innovative new wines to keep their fans happy.

Mouthfuls of crisp fruitiness yield a salad of flavours, ranging from citrus through sub-tropical to some apple. Alcohol levels of 13%, light-bodied and meant for immediate drinking. Excellent partner to seafood salads such as prawns with mango, dressed with homemade mayonnaise sparked with curry powder. Four Platter stars add to its prestige.

Perhaps Carel and Margaux will think of making a Boplaas all-verdelho white one day soon? I will be first in the queue...





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