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Myrna Robins

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Huge, hospitable and a hive of activity. That sums up the scene at the Perdeberg cellar now and over the next few weeks with harvest in full swing. At least seven ranges of pocket-friendly wines of consistent quality flow from this impressive set-up, but the winery is first of all known for putting chenin blanc on the map before the trend became universal.   It also makes fullest use of the fact that among its 37 member-growers there are many who supply the cellar with the fruit-intense grapes from thousands of hectares of bush vines, many of them venerable and influenced by varying micro-climates

Recently I sampled wines from four of the ranges , adding up to a delicious and diverse case of enjoyment.

I started with the 2018 chenin blanc from the Perdebeg Classic range: Just as expected, mouthfuls of fresh and fruity flavour, notably peach and melon, delivering the characterful Swartland flavours that no other region can duplicate.  A crisp wine that will happily take on the roles of both sundowner and partner summer brunch and autumn picnics. It’s a wine that complements a wide range of vegetarian and poultry-based savoury fare with imperceptible ease. R43 from cellar door.

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Rossouw’s Heritage takes chenin blanc up a notch or three, leading a patrician blend, with grenache blanc and viognier bringing up the rear in the 2017 vintage. I opened the 2015 wine, which is made up of 40% chenin, 27% Roussanne, 13% viognier, finished with 10% each of clairette blanche and sauvignon blanc.

The wine pays tribute to Jan Rossouw of the farm Vryguns, who, 78 years ago suggested to his fellow grape farmers in the Perdeberg area, that they should join forces and increase marketing strength. Which is exactly what they did, to become producers of mostly dryland, or non-irrigated vines, many of them venerable, yielding intensely flavoured grapes.  

This is a memorable wine, showing off the Cape ‘s ability to make outstanding white blends. The  nose offers a mix of stone, citrus and sub-tropical fruit, followed by the spectrum of summer fruit flavours on the palate along with vanilla from 20% oaking. The fruit is well balanced by fresh crispness, adding up to rich and memorable mouthfuls. Deserves to accompany gourmet creations based on shellfish, duck and chicken and Moroccan tagines. R120 from cellar door.

 

 

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Perdeberg has added a new rosé to the substantial Vineyard Collection. The label of the 2018 Cinsault Dry Rosé is self-explanatory – the alcohol levels are a pleasing low 11,5%, the dryland cinsault adds its own distinctive character to this light-bodied, fruity summer sipper that will also make an excellent autumn picnic mate. R70 from cellar door.

Another rosé from the Vineyard Collection, this time a Cap Classique sparkler produced from pinot noir. Silver-topped, offering inviting hues of salmon pink, the Perdeberg pinot noir rosé MCC 2015 combines bubbles with berry and watermelon flavours, medium-bodied with whiffs of characteristic biscuit on the palate. A delicious choice for Valentine celebrations..R120 from cellar door..

 

On to the reds, starting with the Perdeberg SSR, (Soft Smooth Red) 2017 from the recently introduced Soft Smooth range (just three labels, white, rosé and red), an entry-level, easy-drinking blend of shiraz, cinsault, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Partly wooded to add a little body to the juicy fruit and soft tannins, with alcohol levels at 14% this is a sweetish wine  that will go down well at braais and happily accompany pizza parties. The mountain zebra image is repeated in the markings of the screwcap. R45 from cellar door.

 

And, finally, back to The Vineyard Collection fo the Perdeberg Malbec 2017, a dark-hued medium-bodied wine lent backbone by a year in French oak. Accessible and destined to partner red meat dishes throughout the cooler months. R80 from cellar door.

            

 

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Bouchard Finlayson describes their estate as treasured terroir, an apt description

 

of the fine soils, pampered vines and ideal climate that combine to allow talented

 

winemaker Chris Albrecht to produce white wines that cannot be resisted. The

 

 

most refreshing of these are the unwooded chardonnay and the best-selling

 

 

sauvignon blanc, a pair that enhances al fresco gatherings and festive feasts over

 

high summer days

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The cellar may be more famous for its full-bodied wooded chards, but those

 

require serious attention and matching to gourmet menus, neither of which many

 

are willing to give or pursue over Christmas family and New Year celebrations.

 

 

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The 2017 San Barrique chardonnay is everything that a summer chard should

 

be – light- bodied, crisp, pure with wafts of melon and apple and sub-tropical fruit

 

titillating the palate all backed by a pleasing hint of minerality. Berries from the

 

renowned Elandskloof vines contribute to the rounded success of this

 

wine. 

 

No doubt this could age well, but it’s unlikely to get the chance to do that! Perfect

 

both as an aperitif and partner to fishy feasts and classic and innovative chicken

 

salads. It sells for around R150.

 

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The 2018 Bouchard Finlayson Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc needs little

 

 

introduction to winelovers who stay with this cultivar and this label whether trends

 

wax or wane.

 

 

And with good reason: it is consistently worthy of its fine reputation, presenting

 

fragrant aromas of characteristic guava and granadilla followed by similar flavours

 

on the palate – it is crisp, with moderate alcohol levels, a balanced structure, and

 

always the Bouchard Finlayson elegance that is so attractive. Whether making the

 

choice for brunch, lunch or moonlight meals, it will rise to the occasion, enhancing

 

any fishy feast and vegetarian main courses Expect to pay around R125.

 

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A nice contrast here: the label of the Vriesenhof Unwooded Chardonnay 2017 is as traditional as can be, simple wording above and below a black and white drawing of a venerable Cape farmstead backed by the Stellenbosch mountain. But - it arrived in a cardboard carton labelled MILK, then, in smaller font “This is not...” . On one side, a description of the wine, while on another we are given a little of the owner’s winemaking philosophy. When you discover that this farm and wine brand is owned by Jan Boland Coetzee, the delicious mix of trad and zany trend is right in tune with those of its renowned and relaxed cellarmaster.

I make no secret of the fact that I usually enjoy chards that are not wooded more than some of their posher, richer and more complex cousins. I savour their natural freshness, uncomplicated elegance and fruit, often backed by flint that adds character. This wine fits that description almost exactly, with some citrus and stone fruit flavours and more than a hint of minerality lending it substance. Moderate alcohol levels, a back label advising consumers to chill and drink soon, it’s simply a delicious summer aperitif without pretensions. It sells for R100 at both large liquor outlets and at Wine Concepts and, of course at the cellar door and online from the farm. The milk carton pack is only obtainable from the farm.

In the past Jan Boland Coetzee was a traditionalist, only making wines classically austere, dry and with no upfront fruit. This wine, made by long-standing winemaker Nicky Claasens, presents a departure from that style, one that is sure to be more popular with the majority of consumers.

Vriesenhof is running a digital competition with this product: Punting it as the perfect accompaniment to be ‘cool by the pool this summer’,entrants that buy a bottle need to  tag @VriesenhofWines in a post being cool by the pool this summer to stand  a chance to win a case of this charming chard!

For more info email her at Kirsten@kirstenhopwood.co.za .

 
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“Come and taste the sea with Fryer’s Cove vineyards” suggested the invitation. In the end my wine samples were tasted inland, here in McGregor, and my first sip of the Doring Bay 2017 sauvignon blanc did indeed offer more than a lick of the icy Atlantic which crashes onto the rocky shore of Doringbaai, some 300km north of Cape Town.

I closed my eyes and imagined the scene at this tiny hardy settlement, a fishing community where the inhabitants are as hardy as the coastline is rugged. The vineyards of Fryer’s Cove are just 500 metres from the shoreline, so it's hardly surprising that the wines produced from these harvests have a distinct maritime flavour.

The Fryer’s Cove booklet relates how the winery was established on a part of the Laubscher brothers’ farm, and the cellar was set up in the former crayfish factory – not many others can point to ocean waves lapping their cellar walls as their wines mature in tanks.

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Before getting down to the sauvignons produced from their vines, I’d like to share some of the background of this coastal winery which makes a great story - typical of the tough conditions and equally tough weskus entrepreneurs who make things happen, no matter how adverse their surroundings.

Back in 1985 Elsenburg student Wynand Hamman was on holiday in the Strandfontein area and this aspirant winemaker shared his vinous dream with Jan and Ponk van Zyl , who later became his in-laws. It took 14 years before Fryer’s Cove cellar was born and early years proved hard going: The area was drought-prone and existing groundwater had too high a salt content and desalination was too expensive to contemplate. The only solution was a pipeline to bring water from Vredendal, nearly 30km away, which also had to cross three farms en route. The farmers agreed, so Jan built the pipeline as the 20th century drew to a close. The neighbours received water for their co-operation and the Laubscher brothers got shares for allowing a buffer dam to be built and for 10ha of their land which is where the first vines were planted.

There are some good reasons to counter the difficulties: The ocean deposits salt flakes on the vine leaves, whifh helps repel disease, as well as imparting a distinctive minerality to the wine. Indigenous plants between the vines act as a natural ground cover , while seashells and limestone in the soil add flinty character.  Fryer’s Cove Wines belong to the Jan Ponk Trust, H Laubscher family trust and cellarmaster Wynand Hamman. They are part of  Bamboes Bay, the smallest wine ward in South Africa.

 

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The Jetty restaurant is a community venture, part of the local development trust, 70% community owned and run, where you will relish snoekkoekies, pickled fish, calamari and local linefish as well as more conventional burgers and steak. I look forward to a visit in 2019.

 

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To the wine; Doring Bay sauvignon blanc 2017 is already showing off an array of four gold medals from some of the smaller competitions. It makes the ideal aperitif to open on a sizzling day, offering - along with tangy and ocean aromas - a crisp zestiness well balanced by a combo of grassy and tropical fruit flavours. Quite high alcohol levels at 14,4% are not obvious. This is an easy-to-love wine selling at R95.

The Bamboes Bay 2017 is a much posher cousin, a limited edition in a heavier bottle, also unoaked but presenting a far more complex meld of herbaceous, seaweed and granadilla notes on the nose, followed by an array of fruit and lemongrass on the palate. It manages to be crisp and steely yet offers a richer experience than its Doring Bay cousin and is priced at R260 ex-cellar.

 

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Winemaker Derick Koegelenberg made both these wines.

I prefer the cheaper one for most summer days, but the Bamboes Bay is the one to choose when serving a seafood extravaganza. Also, its potential is impressive – not many sauvignons taste better the next day after being open for 24 hours, but this one did. (Of course it could also be that my palate was more receptive, but – either way – Doring Bay for most warm days and Bamboes Bay for special occasions.) There is a third sauvignon blanc that is a patrician cousin, limited edition and numbered, aged 18 months in bottle. It’s called Hollebaksstrandfontein Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, but, having not tried it, I cannot comment. It sells for R295.

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Salt of the Earth – the phrase brings to mind a person (or group of people) whose qualities present a model for the rest of us.

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That Groote Post decided to use this phrase as the name of their special blend of shiraz (66%) and Cinsaut (34%) is both interesting and apposite. Produced from the outstanding 2015 harvest, the grapes were sourced from venerable vines in the Darling Hills – 17-year-old shiraz, and 42-year-old dryland bushvine cinsaut.

The wine spent 16 months in French oak, and the result is intriguing, where the shiraz characteristics dominate, - the flavours of red plum, white pepper are there backed by cedarwood - lent benefits by fresh berry notes from the cinsaut. The result is quite intriguing, well balanced with an earthy backbone and 14% alcohol levels.

The special label, designed by Anthony Lane’s consultancy is different from Groote Post’s usual designs, drawing attention to the bottle as consumers have to hunt for the source of the wine.

Already sporting its 91% score from Tim Atkins’ Best of South Africa 2017 report, this wine was released by Groote Post in early spring to the delight of those many winelovers who are seeing more old cinsaut vines coming back into their own, adding their welcome characteristics to more delicious red blends. It sells for R240 from the Groote Post cellar.

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