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Myrna Robins

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Wine

Wine reviews, industry news and comment.

Subcategories from this category: Blog, News, Events

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When the second vintage of a new wine is even better than the first – and the first was memorable – then you know you have found a label to love. When the winery does not raise the price to unaffordable levels just because it’s attracting awards, the said label becomes even more attractive.

So it was with the release of the 2018 vintage of Tanagra Colombard, which I sampled at the 10 year anniversary celebration of this beautiful boutique wine cellar, distillery and guest farm, a few kilometres from the village of McGregor.

Colombard (or Colombar) is not a noble cultivar., but a modest varietal occupying just more than 1,9% of South Africa’s vineyard area. It is used largely as a major component of base wine for our illustrious brandy production. And, has now proven to the wine world that it can yield grapes that – having been nurtured in the vineyard and enjoyed careful and talented attention in the cella -, it can produce a fine wine of quality.

The maiden vintage, 2017 presented us a golden-hued wine that, along with being delicious , enjoyed the element of surprise. Would its successor maintain the quality?   It did, in every aspect, adding something of a polished character as if to say – I’m here and ready to stay! The grapes come from a single vineyard on the farm, 22 years old, yielding enough berries to produce 2 300 bottles. The early-morning harvest was gently crushed, and natural or wild yeasts used to ferment the juice .

The wine spent a month in third-fill oak barrels before bottling Alcohol levels are held at a modest 13%. The wine offers flavours of sub-tropical and stone fruit on the palate, including a hint of the characteristic guava. Medium-bodied with some flint, it is fresh without being acidic and a hint of cream adds to well -rounded happiness

A charming aperitif for spring days and summer nights that comes into its own as a companionable partner for many an al fresco dish, including tomato-based fare which is usually difficult to pair well. Robert and Anette Rosenbach have received reports from far and wide on how well their Colombard adds enjoyment to both luncheon and supper menus, while it’s equally happy to partner local cheese.

It sells for R100 and details of stockists and deliveries can be found on their website www.tanagra-wines.com. Visitors to the Robertson Wine on the River festival in mid-October will be able to taste it at the Tanagra stand.

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Heritage month makes a great excuse, should we need one, to focus on our Cape history – its viticulture, architecture and cuisine, among other aspects. So when a trio of Lanzerac wines arrived that all embody this colourful heritage, the subject of this September blog required no further debate.

A few years back cellarmaster Wynand Lategan added the maiden vintages of a new range to the Lanzerac wine portfolio. Headed the Keldermeester Versameling he focussed on fine harvests of uncommon cultivars, bottled them in heavy glass bottles closed with wax and added a minimalistic white label. The back label offers some info, and only Afrikaans is used.

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There are two whites in this range, both of which are worth sampling when next you visit the tasting centre. There’s very little pinot blanc in South Africa, but Lanzerac boasts a single, low-yield vineyard in the Jonkershoek valley which Lategan used to make Christina in 2001, a rare example of this varietal, launched to coincide with the arrival of the new millennium and given the thumbs up by Tim James in the 2002 edition of Platter’s wines. Fast forward to 2017 when the first vintages of the Keldermeester Versameling were released, one of which is a limited edition, named Bergpad, a wooded pinot blanc which I enjoyed enormously. Golden in hue, it makes quite a bold statement, (I received the 2016), full bodied, old oak melding with flavours of pineapple and semi-tropical fruit, freshness thanks to muted acidity.  The wine is  a fine example of well-balanced handling, just different enough to offer a nice altlernative to the usual whites. It is a fine tribute to the famous mountain path that stretches from Coetzenberg sports ground to Lanzerac, that has seen generations of Stellenbosch students tramp their way to the famous bar on the farm.

Bergpad was joined by Bergstroom last year, a 2017 vintage blend of homegrown sauvignon blanc and semillon from Elgin. Fermentation took place in old French oak, using mostly natural yeast, and six months of maturation preceded blending and bottling. It is a charming example of a classic blend, offer ing green fruity flavours of kiwi and gooseberry, a long delicious mouthfeel that lacks the acidity that often dominates sauvignon blanc. Alcohol levels of 14% are not obvious, and this makes both a moreish aperitif and fine partner for local salmon trout with beurre blanc. Bergstroom also pays pleasing tribute to mountain streams, both those of Stellenbosch and of many a small South African dorp, offering irrigation lifelines to people, livestock and crops.

Both these delightful whites, limited editions and numbered, are available only from Lanzerac, priced at a reasonable R200.

No vinous discussion about heritage could exclude our one true indigenous grape – pinotage is not only enjoying global acclaim at present, but Lanzerac estate is also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Lanzerac pinotage which was produced by then owners,  SFW co-operative, under the Lanzerac label. Created by Stellenbosch universty’s Professor Abraham Perold who cross-pollinated pinot noir and cinsaut to produce just four seeds in 1925, the new cultivar, pinotage flourished and was first used in blending with other dry reds.

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Today cellarmaster Lategan continues to specialise in pinotage, offering winelovers and connoisseurs an easy-drinking rosé, a full-bodied classic pinotage from the premium range and the flagship Pionier Pinotage, a single vineyard champion .

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Iconic wine from an iconic Cape estate: Having been fully restored after a major fire two years ago, Lanzerac is back on the winelands map, as beautiful and elegant as ever. More than three centuries of history can be experienced in the special ambience found in some sections where old walls and woodwork retain the patina of many an ancestral presence. Beauty abounds in a magnificent setting, as the estate wears its three centuries with effortless grace.

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CHOIRS FOR AFRICA TO RAISE FUNDS FOR AGRICULTURAL YOUTH PROJECTS

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SING! Choir “Extravaganza takes place at the Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town on Saturday September 7 at 18h30 for 19h00. The Ndlovu Youth Choir from Limpopo will be joining the Tygerberg Chrildren’s Choir, the Libertas Choir and the Cape Town Youth Choir in a diverse programme . The Limpopo choir is known for their performance of Afro-Pop classics and traditional music, while the Libertas choir performs a cappella music and trad and contemporary South African songs. The event is organised by Agri-Expo to raise funds for agricultural youth projects.

After their individual performances there will be a mass choir performance. Tickets from Computicket at R200 – R350. See www.singsa.co.za for more information.

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Stellenbosch Hills' Heritage pairing

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September is about roots and this year Stellenbosch Hills gets you back to yours with new tastings to celebrate the diversity of South African heritage.

In partnership with the Private Hotel School, the Heritage Food & Wine Pairing for September 2019 features a line-up of firm favourites for R75pp. 

First up is the 1707 Reserve White 2018 served in a perfect partnership with Cape Malay pickled fish and a slice of crisp, garlic-flavoured bruschetta.

: the 1707 Reserve Red 2015 – a Gold medal winner at Veritas 2017 - shines delectably alongside boerewors-inspired meatballs served on home-made tomato chutney.

The parting is delivered by the stellar Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg 2018 – the 30th anniversary vintage of this all-round favourite – paired with orange malva pudding with a rooibos tea infused crème anglaise.

The Stellenbosch Hills Heritage Food & Wine is available Monday to Friday, 09h00 to 17h00, and Saturday 10h00 to 15h00 for R75.pp. Bookings are essential. Call 021 881 3828 or eamail info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za

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TASTING OF TIM ATKIN’S TOP-SCORING WINES

There will be a public tasting of his 95+ point scoring wines with the winemakers in Cape Town on 13 September. To book tickets at a cost of R500, go to: http://www.winecellar.co.za/tim-atkin-tasting-13-sept-cpt-nv.html

UK journalist Tim Atkin, MW is a multiple-award winning journalist, wine taster, photographer and writer with 34 years’ experience. He has just released his seventh annual guide to SA wines, and calls the Cape “one of the most exciting wine-producing countries on the planet”, thanks to a combination of old vines, young winemaking talent, established names, varied terroirs and a can-do spirit.

This year, Atkin singles out Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault and Syrah for special praise, all of which are established varieties in the Cape, but also highlights the “enormous potential” of Albariño, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Roussanne and Verdelho. Atkin's 2019 South Africa Special Report runs to over 281 pages and is the product of three trips to the Cape over the last year, as well as further tastings in the UK, and includes:

  • Top wines of the year (white, red, rosé, sweet, fortified and sparkling);
  • Scores for 2,118 wines, with retail prices in South African Rand, ranging from R33 to R4,000;
  • 1,447 tasting notes;
  • Evocative photos of the winelands and winemakers;
  • His controversial 2019 classification of the 250 best South African wineries.
    •  Tim Atkin MW’s 2019 South Africa Special Report is available to download from www.timatkin.com for £20.

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RMB WINEX 2019

 

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RMB WineX turns a proud 20 this year, as it holds its annual wine festival from Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November at the Sandton Convention Centre. The

the best of the Cape – and some gems from the international wine scene – will be poured. At least 30 wineries from the inaugural show aret taking part plus a large contingent of next-generation winemakers showcasing their wares to the vibrant Gauteng market. 

The RMB Private Bank Tasting Lounge has become a much anticipated feature at the show over the last five years.  Winemakers present half-hour small-group tastings covering a range of fascinating topics.  Seats are limited and secured on a first-booked-first-served basis, so guests should reserve their attendance immediately on arrival at the show. 

Show visitors won’t go hungry with the array of edibles on show for sampling and sale.  French cheese, Morgenster olives, foie gras, West Coast oysters, sushi from the Sushi Bus, Norwegian smoked salmon, chocolates and nougat will be the order of the day along with the tapas and deli dishes sold at the Mastrantonio Café.  The Shop@Show facility, administered by Norman Goodfellows, offers the convenience of a one-stop wine buying service for home delivery in time for the festive season. 

 

RMB WineX 2019 Details:       

            

Dates: Wednesday 30 October to Friday 1 November 2019 (Wednesday night by invitation only)

Venue: The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton

Time: 17h00 to 21h00 each night

Tickets for Thursday and Friday nights: www.winex.co.za from 16 September.  Strictly no under 18s. 

Getting there and home:

 

Event Queries: www.winex.co.za for all details, list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show, and to register for Shop@Show. 

Contact: OutSorceress Marketing, telephone 011 482 5936 or email winex@outsorceress.co.za.

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CELEBRATE CHENIN AT PERDEBERG WINES

 

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Chenin Blanc has made huge strides in quality and popularity over the last few years, with a passionate group of producers aiming for the stars!

 

 

The first “Celebrate Chenin” Festival, presented by Perdeberg Wines will share this passion with wine lovers, showing off styles from serious barrel-fermented whites, easy-drinking fruity summer wine right up to Methóde Cap Classique bubblies and incredible dessert wines.

 

Twenty wineries will offer their wines for tasting and for sale directly to visitors. Food Trucks and live music will round off the experience.

 

DATE:                    Saturday 2 November, 11h00-16h00.

 

VENUE:                                Perdeberg Wines, Windmeul Rd, Agter-Paarl.  Visit www.perdeberg.co.za for more info.

 

TICKETS:               R250 online at Webtickets, R280 at the Box Office on site. Includes: Branded crystal glass, R60 food coupon, live music and free tastings.

 

 

Tagged in: Events Food Wine wine news
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Given the growing trend to produce wines that reflect a sense of place , it’s good to see Stellenbosch Hills join the mode with the release of a pair of classy limited edition wines that now form their flagship duo. The range will soon be expanded with the addition of a MCC.

Both the white, a wooded chenin blanc and the red blend have cork closures and attractive front labels, the former featuring a wild chestnut flower, the latter our beautiful sunbird , his beak deep in a Sugarbush Protea. These features are found on the farm(s) from where the grapes were sourced.

Kastanjeberg 2017 is a wooded chenin, produced from a single vineyard growing high on slopes facing False Bay. This is a bold, full-bodied chenin, offering aromas of honey and stone fruit and whiffs of vanilla from its time in oak. There is more fruit on the palate, where flavours of peach and apricot are complemented with some nuttiness, oak lending tannic structure and vanilla, and acidity assuring freshness. It’s a big wine in every sense (including high alcohol levels at 14,5%) and will make a good partner with complex poultry and game bird dishes, pork and also complement Asian fare from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Suikerboschrand is a Cape blend from that superb vintage year 2015 and comprises one-third pinotage, with 29% shiraz, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 14% merlot and 10% petit verdot.  All the components were vinified separately and spent 24 months in new French oak before blending and bottling took place. This is a voluptuous blend, where an array of aromas – berries, chocolate, cigar box – are followed by a complexity of flavours on the palate, fruit melding with tannic structure from new oak. Alcohol levels of 14,5% do not overwhelm the wine which is both accessible and well balanced.

As these flagship wines are destined to be savoured by connoisseurs and those keen to know more, both about the “place” or terroir from where the harvests came, the age of the grapes, and – in the case of the chenin – how long the wine spent in wood, and was it first, second or third-fill oak, it seems a pity that these facts are neither on the labels nor can be found on the website. I would like to ask the winemaker why he decided that a bold, wooded chenin would offer a better sense of place, (that is the high single vineyard), than a wine where the grapes could have expressed their particular terroir.

The Kastanjeberg sells for R285 and the Suikerboschrand for about R385 both from the cellar and some boutique wine stores. Email info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za for more info.

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We have come to expect the best from Waterkloof wines, and I have yet to be disappointedThe estate’s fierce commitment to traditional organic and biodynamic methods is well-known and there is no doubt that these are reflected in the purity of their wines,  accompanied by a delicacy that promotes, rather than restrains,  expression of terroir. Add to this a natural elegance that  has long been winemaker Nadia Barnard-Langenegger’s  characteristic style, and you know what to expect as you unscrew the cap of the 2016 vintage of Waterkloof Circle of Life White.

Winelovers will be delighted to find the components listed on the front label – 67% sauvignon blanc, 29% chenin blanc and 4% splash of semillon. I found the sauvignon to be dominant both on the nose and slightly less so on the palate, but there are few typical chenin characteristics. The chenin has, however, softened the sauvignon's acidity and added a backdrop of flint Fruit is restrained, but adds roundness to the blend which lingers to a long, complex,  satisfying and serene finish. Moderate alcohol levels are in keeping.

Winemaker Nadia co-fermented the sauvignon and chenin in a combo of 600 litre barrels and concrete “eggs.” No additives were used, and extended time on the lees and with bottle maturation contribute to the fine integration that is characteristic of this blend.

A persuasive example of the positive effects of eco-farming, organic and biodynamic vini- and viticulture, this retails for around R160.

 

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