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Myrna Robins

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How interesting. The back label of this polished, elegant and most inviting white blend defines ‘Revenant’ as “one that returns after death or a long absence.” Hmm. My trusty (and admittedly old) Cassell’s French -English dictionary lists the word as meaning “pleasing, prepossessing, charming or a ghost”. Well - leaving aside the spooky one - all these definitions apply to Revenant from False Bay Vineyard rather well.

This is another delicious wine from cellarmaster Nadia Barnard - who has helped make the False Bay range a firm and affordable favourite – this time a classic blend that mirrors the first white wine made by owner Paul Boutinot in France back in 1984. The blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc brought fame to the Loire, but went out of fashion as the world turned to single cultivar wines. A decade later Boutinot established False Bay Vineyards in the Helderberg, followed by the renowned biodynamic Waterkloof 10 years on.

It is well known that our top white blends are among the finest wines to flow from Cape cellars, and Revenant can join them with pride, and, given the retail price of less than R100, comes in at considerably less than some of its competitors . As with other products from this cellar, it is made in the traditional way, with minimal intervention, maturing in old wood and concrete eggs, being left for 10 months on lees.

Comprising 80% sauvignon and the remainder chenin blanc , most of the grapes were sourced from Waterkloof’s own vineyards, some of which having reached 35 years in age. This has lent both personality and depth to the wine, which is quietly assertive and beautifully balanced, offering subtle fruity elegance with moderate alcohol levels. It will make a fine companion for a wide range of sophisticated fare, both Gallic and international gourmet but is also a delightful aperitif to sip while savouring spectacular autumn sunsets.

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I found both these Garden Route wines very charming – partly because they seem to tick all my boxes and perhaps because they encapsulate so many features that the majority of winelovers look for – from palate to purse to provenance.

As a wine writer I also appreciated a press release that that was both compact and well-written and happily sans endless pages of indulgent hyperbole and meaningless high falutin phrases.

Boets Nel, MD of the hospitable cellar of De Krans in Calitzdorp bought sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes from the Waboomskraal valley in the foothills of the Outeniqua range. They reached his cellar within an hour of harvesting, where highly competent winemaker Louis van der Riet made this complementary pair over the next several months.The berries were slow -ripening and intensely flavoured for both cultivars, we are told – and this is certainly borne out by the end products.

The Garden Route sauvignon blanc 2017 presents both verdant and tropical fruit aromas, which are followed on the palate by green notes and some passion fruit. While crisp, there is a pleasing lack of searing acidity, while more than a hint of flint adds structure. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% complete a well-balanced, appealing summer wine that is adorned with four-star Platter and Vitis Vinifera stickers and costs R70.

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Turning to the 2016 Garden Route pinot noir, its fairly pale hue forecasts the lighter, prevalent style in which its made, The wine is packed with berried fruit along with the characteristic savory character, the tannins are soft and smooth but a year in French oak has added backbone to add  appeal.

Slips down nicely on its own, but is equally happy to accompany red and white meat, meaty fish and – as always – mushrooms. Selling at R110, this wine also boasts a four-star rating and gold from Vitis Vinifera 2017.

Both wines are available only from De Krans cellar or online through www.dekrans.co.za. For more info, email dekrans@mweb.co.za or call 044 213 3314.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Carrol-Boyes-Rose_large-2.jpgWine, art and design meld seamlessly in the Carrol Boyes portfolio. It seems  fortuitous  that this renowned designer of fine functional art has a brother – John Boyes – who is not only a farmer but whose partner and friend Neels Barnardt is a wine industry veteran. It must have been a natural progression to introduce wines to complement and enhance the lifestyle products. Winemaker Hendrik Snyman is responsible for the wines in the  Sketchbook Collection, a range of six Intriguing limited edition wines, consisting of  a rosé,  chardonnay, chenin blanc ,cabernet sauvignon, merlot and red blend ( an imported champagne  provides the bubbles). Vintages range from 2014 to 2016, with the bubbly a Gallic museum edition at 2006.

Chenin blanc and rosé were the duo I sampled, both 2016 vintages, and both presenting sensible 13% alcohol levels.

The Sketchbook rosé is an all-cinsaut affair produced from dryland Swartland grapes. Its attractive smoked salmon tint well suits the characterful wine that offers a dry briskness more assertive than most easy-drinking pinks. This is a rosé with attitude, not content just to offer a berry salad but cinsaut backbone in an autumn appetiser. It will also happily complement complex salads featuring seafood or poultry or partner a gourmet picnic with panache.

As with all the Sketchbook wines, Carrol Boyes designed the label, this one featuring her chosen model with a pink gloved hand, beckoning to be unscrewed.... It sells for R90.

To the chenin blanc, which, sadly does not offer a screwcap, but it's well worth hauling out the corkscrew. Like the rosé, bottle age has no doubt benefitted this wine, produced from dryland grapes in the Darling area. Left on the lees for three months before bottling, the press release states that no portion was wooded while Cathy van Zyl’s comment in Platter 2018 refers to a “well-handled 20% oaked portion.” This is a complex chenin, good structure alongside agreeable freshness to complement flavours of stone fruit . (I don’t detect the explosion of green apple mentioned in the press release.) If asked, I would have guessed that some wood was used to add depth to this chenin adorned with our lady, this time green-gloved, who seems to be contemplating the issue. It sells for R130.

The wines are available online and at the Carrol Boyes Waterfront store at the Waterfront. For more, see www.carrolboyeswines.com.

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My admiration for those wineries which  have taken the decision to go organic, both in vineyard and cellar, and get certified to that effect, is considerable and ongoing. Not only does it involve much extra work, both physical and written, but this worthy dimension adds substantially to the cost of wine production.

Reyneke Organic Wines was the first South African wine farm to be certified as such  for both grape growing and production. They have gone one step further, practising biodynamic viti -and viniculture on their Polkadraai farm Uitzicht.

As most readers know, this means firstly that the vineyards are herbicide, pesticide and fungicide-free and, in order to be self-sustaining, they recycle wherever possible. They  work in harmony with the moon, and study the constellations to create fine wines, working at nature’s pace, following natural and cosmic cycles. It all makes for a holistic environment in synergy with their vegetable gardens, animal husbandry and people, along with conserving  pockets of indigenous fynbos..

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Reyneke Biodynamic syrah 2015 has already impressed both local and overseas critics and understandably so.  The nose, aromatic with berry flavours gives way to a palate where fruit and spices mingle, while substantial tannins, add weight. But the freshness and purity – consistently present in Johan’s wines – are there, adding up to well balanced complexity that will continue to develop over the next few years. Moderate 13% alcohol levels are in keeping. At R175 it’s reasonably priced, given its pedigree.

The biodynamic range consists of four reds and four white wines, and there is a pair of organic wines in addition.

It’s worth noting that the farm is open for sales on weekdays,but visitors need to make an appointment for tastings, vineyard walks and cellar tours. Contact 021 881 3517.

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The fact that Boplaas now makes a substantial range of fine table wines, and brandies, does nottake away from their exceptional reputation for fine Cape port wines and muscadels.  A few years ago they added a complex red blend named Gamka, to their ranges, named  after their lifeblood river that flows past Calitzdorp to the majestic Swartberg mountains which form the picturesque backdrop.

Now there is a partner, in the form of a white blend, called, sensibly Gamka Branca, and this 2016 maiden production of 1400 bottles  add quality diversity to the ever-growing number of fine Cape white blends.

I confess to this being my favourite class of Cape wine, especially when chenin-based, but I savoured this generous, exotic meld of cultivars with distinctive character that reflects the Klein Karoo, even though only two of its components were sourced from Boplaas vineyards

Gamka Branca consists of about 60% Elgin chardonnay, with Stellenbosch grenache blanc and viognier,  Boplaas verdelho and Swartland chenin. After fermentation in old French oak the wine wines spent nine months in more old French oak before selection, blending and bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Alcohol levels have been  kept to a  moderate 13%  The wine presents a complex blend of citrus and stone fruit flavours, a little spicy oak and discernible tannins adding characterful complexity.

While it will no doubt benefit from cellaring, it will also add new and delicious flavours to our sundowners and festive tables during this summer and next autumn . I am looking forward to pairing it with more than seafood, as I think its going to partner  diverse fare with panache.

Gamka Branc already displays on its bottle its impressive scores in the 90’s from Tim Atkins and Platter, alongside its four and half Platter stars.

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