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Myrna Robins

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Elgin Ridge 282 Pinot Noir 2016 

 

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Certified organic wines are thin on the ground in this country and those which go a step further – to be fully registered as biodynamic – are even more rare.

Having been involved (as a keen spectator) with an organic wine farm, seeing what has to be undertaken to reach this status, sitting through an international inspection by a tough team from Europe and South Africa as they toured vineyards and farm buildings, examining everything from implements to employees work apparel, then probing records and asking the most detailed questions, I greatly admire those who undertake the arduous and expensive process to get certified.

Brian and Marion Smith of Elgin Ridge state on their website that their vineyards have been free of chemical sprays for more than 10 years, while Maddox their gentle percheron ploughs between the vineyard rows to remove weeds and pest control is handled with enthusiasm by resident ducks. Currently on the website are photos of an appealing pair of lambs who, we are told, will soon join the rest of the little flock to help with cover crop management.

The 2016 vintage of their Elgin Ridge 282 pinot noir was recently released. Grapes were sourced from four vineyards between10 and 11 years old and were vinified separately. Natural malolactic fermentation took place in second- and third- fill oak for 10 months before blending and bottling took place.

This is a cultivar that benefits from organic viticulture partly because of its inherent earthiness. Elgin minerality complements, but these characteristics are balanced by the berry fruit on the nose, and a a juicy freshness. Tannins are integrated, and the whole offers medium-bodied well-balanced enjoyment, along with that purity that is usually discernible in organic wines.

Another plus is that fact organic wines contain little, if any, sulphur, a chemical which affects a number of winelovers – particularly senior consumers - adversely.

This pinot noir will make a fine companion to a variety of winter warmers,

including, of course any mushroom dish where the earthiness of both will complement nicely.

It sells for R250 from cellar door and some wine outlets.

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Stellenbosch Hills has long been known for value-for-money wines, and no range proves this better than the Polkadraai - which notches up a decade of success this year. The anniversary is marked with a young rosé, vintage 2019, produced from shiraz grapes that grow in the Polkadraai district of Stellenbosch.This is where the winery’s 16 member farms are situated, in that scenic region where the terroir offers a wide spectrum of soil and climate.

 

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The new addition to the range is crisp and fresh, offering a bouquet of fruit that is followed on the palate by very accessible fruit and medium alcohol levels of 13%.

As with all labels in this light-hearted range, a percentage of money from sales of the new label go to the Polka kids Community Project through which Stellenbosch Hills contribute to education at the Vlottenburg Primary school. This is where most of the younger children of the vineyards and winery’s employees attend school.

There are not that many well-made wines retailing for less than R50 these days, but this is one of them – priced at R48 from cellar door.

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Number 2339 of 3550 arrived at my wine collection point nearly two months ago and I decided then and there it should be opened, reviewed – and then shared – on Mother’s Day. Named after La Motte’s owner Hanneli Rupert, this is a very special shiraz-based blend, produced only when the component grapes are of exceptional quality.

The grapes for 2013 Hanneli R from la Motte Private Cellar were sourced and harvested from three wine regions: Elim provided more than half the syrah berries, Walker Bay yielded grenache, which makes 30% of the blend and the home terroir provided petite sirah, just 10% (and occupying a miniscule 0.16% of vineyard area in South Africa).

It’s not that easy to obtain winemaking details as neither the back label nor the website yield much information. But we know that new French oak was used to age the wine for more than three years and the result is a hugely enjoyable – and approachable – red blend: The nose offers aromas of cherry and dark fruit, the palate presents a slightly sweeter fruit tone than one initially expects, allied to softer tannins. This adds up to a glassful that can be enjoyed by a wider circle of winelovers than some aristocratic reds, (which call for consumers who appreciate austerity or those who are prepared to cellar their purchase for several years.)

It's elegant, charming, a tad feminine and a wonderful companion to fine fare (especially meals involving good red meat) – all of which could well describe the hostess after which it is named.

Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% add to the attraction, as does its minimalistic front label, in keeping with the stylish contents. It is priced at R1 300.

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Tasting the wines of young and adventurous men and women who go solo is always a pleasure: No matter how difficult the marketplace, there are always those willing to take the chance and demonstrate their talent in creating a range of wines for the curious consumer.

Suzanne Coetzee is one such entrepreneur: Having gained experience at Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch, she branched out on her own with a boutique range of wines called Nuiba, which is the name of the Namibian farm on which she grew up. Her love of her family home is further expressed in the names given to the four wines, namely First, Second, Third and Fourth Posts, reflecting the farm’s cattle drinking stations.

The 2018 quartet includes one white and a rosé, and these were the ones I asked to taste, as best suited to high summer temperatures.

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The First Post is a limited edition Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc blend, with the back label informing me that the wine is unfiltered and is wine of origin Stellenbosch. As the press release and the tasting notes on her website refer to her 2016 vintage, I had no way of knowing if the new release is also a 60/40 blend but well could be: it’s also pale yellow, offers subtle fruity aromas leading to flavours of citrus and melon on the palate with a little grassiness in the background. There’s both purity and zest discernible, balanced by a hint of cream adding up to a very enjoyable wine that differs from the usual blends where the sauvignon dominates. It sells online for R190.

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The Fourth Post is a 2018 wooded rosé where Semillon has taken on salmon hues thanks to a little Malbec. Notes apply to the 2017 vintage which is also a product of Stellenbosch grapes and the wine matured in third-fill oak. The back label informs that the wine is unfiltered and alcohol levels held at  13,5%. It a is priced at R115 and is available only online, as it the rest of the range.

The Third Post consists of a blend of Pinotage with Cabernet and Grenache. If it follows the specs of the 2016 vintage, (which is highly rated) the grapes were sourced from venerable Piekenierskloof vines, while the Second Post is a Shiraz, with the 2016 grapes coming from Paarl and Simonsberg. Neither of the reds were tasted. For more information, visit www.nuibawines.co.za.

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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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