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Haskell vineyards on the Helderberg.

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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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We all knew that Kleine Zalze's new cellarmaster had big boots to fill, as he took over from Johan Joubert. Alastair Rimmer's maiden chenin blanc and chardonnay are both ample, enjoyable proof that he will be carrying on the cellar's impressive reputation for over-delivery on quality and pure enjoyment with a range of wines that have attracted strings of awards both here and internationally.

The farm's Vineyard Selection chenin blanc 2015 follows in the tradition of a beautifully balanced meld of fruit with structure lent from subtle oak. Enough acidity to keep everything fresh, ideal late summer wine for both aperitifs and al fresco fare, but can safely be kept for a few years as well. A very good buy at R77.

In similar style, the Vineyard Selection chardonnay 2015, selling for R80 from cellar door is a fine example of Rimmer's talent: both Stellenbosch and Robertson grapes were sourced for this wine, which spent seven months in oak before blending and bottling. The citrus, pear and stone fruit, with apple providing a floral note, fulfil chardonnay fans' expectations, there's a mineral core, and overall elegance which combines to make this a classic with complexity that should develop further if cellared.

In best Kleine Zalze tradition, these constitute another pair of winners.



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b2ap3_thumbnail_KWV-Verdelho-image-NEW.PNGMy recent rave about Thelema’s delicious Verdelho 2015 elicited a response from brand marketer Cindy Joao of KWV who invited me to try their Verdelho from The scintillating Mentors range. Which I have done and am now a definite devotee of this white grape, widely used in Portugal but that hardly features at the Cape.

The grape is one of the components of Madeira wine, and is also used for fortified wines. Characteristics include lime and honeysuckle flavours, and a slightly oily texture,

The KWV winemaking team have virtually eliminated the oiliness in their elegant Verdelho, but the fruit is plentiful, stone fruit marrying happily with flint and some nuttiness It’s a well rounded wine that is both refreshing and more than satisfying, both on its own and with a variety of late summer fare – I think it will also complement some Cape Malay dishes - such as chicken breyani - with panache. And,of course, enhance Iberian specialities, when the exotic side of its nature will come to the fore. For palates ready for something different, a well-made Verdelho can fit the bill, and  this superb example is going to be hard to beat. 

The KWV is a 2013 vintage, is produced from two components of Stellenbosch grapes. Was left on lees for 100 days after fermentation, and matured for 9 months in half first-fill, and second and third-fill barrels. It should age gracefully for at least three years.

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Groenekloof is a hilly ward in the Darling district, acknowledged as an outstanding source of sauvignon blanc grapes. It was Neil Ellis who put these hectares on the wine map, and was the first to release results in 1991 with his Groenekloof sauvignon blanc , described as “breathtaking” in the then current Platter guide. Fast forward 24 years and the 2015 sauvignon blanc has kept up the fine reputation, receiving 5 stars in the 2016 Platter guide, one of of just four to attract top honours.

With every justification – the bush vines in the Groenekloof are now 35 years old, are not irrigated, adding to the grapes' intensity, while ocean breezes and fogs help which the ripening season. Neil Ellis has produced a sauvignon that succeeds on every level – combining minerality with herbaceous notes, offering both granadilla and citrus flavours, and retaining that refreshing friskiness alongside elegance. Selling for around R80.

The ward is now revealing its possibilities as source of  stunning reds, and no more so than the extraordinary Neil Ellis cinsaut noir 2012 that father and son released at a media tasting late last year. If ever cinsaut needs to prove its capability of becoming  the red equivalent of chenin, a sort of Cindarella rags-to-riches cultivar, this is the wine to do so. The bush vines that were the source for this success are 40 years old, and harvesting started in early March. Malolactic fermentation took place in old 500 litre French oak, the wine spent 18 month in barrels, both first and fourth fill. Alcohol levels of 15% do not detract from rave reviews from both London (Tim Atkin) and the USA, (Stephen Tanzer), and local reaction has been on a par. Loads of fruit, especially dark cherry, some spice balanced by tannic backbone, characteristic of cinsaut that has enjoyed TLC, augmented by careful oaking. Chill lightly and enjoy on its own or with venison carpaccio. Not cheap at R275, but connoisseurs have, no doubt, been snapping it up.

To complete the Groenekloof trio, the Neil Ellis Shiraz 2013 won’t disappoint fans, offering classic aromas and berry flavours, along with pepper and whiffs of other spices that recall Cape Malay savoury delights. Expect to pay about R100.

Taste these and other vinous gems at the recently opened Neil Ellis cellar at the start of Helshooste pass outside Stellenbosch. The tasting room is open every day except Sunday, and there are cheese and charcuteries platters to share if you want to make a meal of your visit. Tel: 021 887 0649 or email

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