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Myrna Robins

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Winelovers who watch their budgets – and that surely applies to most of us – no doubt know  the fine wines of Waterkloof, as well as  that striking building housing gourmet restaurant and cellar on the slopes of the Schapenberg high above the azure waters of False Bay.  But while they have savoured them on special occasions, comparatively few are likely to enjoy them as  regularly as they would like.

How many, I wonder, know of the range called False Bay,  a sister brand of Waterkloof estate wines,  but separate to the extent that they are listed on their own in the Platter guide. They are not new, but I think that talented cellarmaster Nadia  Barnard has taken the range up a notch or three, to the point where  those  sampled recently are on a par with some  Waterkloof labels, such as the Seriously Cool duo

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Barnard says that they have found better sources for the grapes used in the range and have marked the improvement with new labels that are both attractive and informative: The chenin blanc is adorned with a snail to accompany its name Slow Chenin Blanc 2017. The back label expands on the traditional methods used , where the fruit from old vines is fermented with wild yeasts found naturally on the grapes and that the winemaking process takes a least six months.

The grapes were sourced from three bushvine vineyards, one 40-year-old from the Swartland, the other  two from mature Stellenbosch vines.

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The result is quite delicious, a chenin whose fragrant aromas envelop one on unscrewing, followed by stone fruit flavours  on the palate. Its elegant, there’s old vine structure lurking there, all balanced nicely by a welcome freshness.

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he Old School syrah 2017 also impresses hugely. The only wine in the range that has alcohol levels as high as 14% this was sourced from two Stellenbosch vineyards, one in granite, planted in 2000 and the other in sandstone in 2005. Given the same attention and using the same methods as all the wines in this portfolio, there is plenty of fruit, a little white pepper and smooth and accessible tannins.

The rest of the range consists of the Windswept sauvignon blanc 2017, Crystalline chardonnay 2017, a Whole Bunch  2017 rosé  sourced from cinsaut and mourvèdre anda Bush Vine pinotage 2014,

Owner Paul Boutinot has been on a mission to find and rescue old, under-appreciated vineyards with potential since 1994, in order to  transform their fruit into wines made with minimal intervention, using  wild yeast sans  added. acid...  Trendy now, but not then !

 

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Waterkloof estate is one of the Cape’s prized showcases, from the sustainable farm, a conservation champion which achieved fully certified organic and biodynamic status 4 years ago, to its cheese tastings, fine Gallic dining, walking tours,  horse riding, even an art collection to contemplate – and a range of quality wines, this one offering extraordinary value for money. All the False Bay wines retail at R58.and are widely available from small retail outlets.

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Long, languorous  summer days seem to demand a Cap Classique and the current trend of rosé bubblies just adds positive energy to the sharing of beautiful bubbles. There are many good examples on the local market, with the L’Ormarins non-vintage MCC  a delicious choice to have in your cellar or fridge, ready to impress and please from noon to midnight.

Rosy-hued, a fine mousse, bright berry aromas lead to a satisfying explosion of long-lasting bubbles. Crispness and berry fruit flavours are  followed by cream and biscuit notes, and this all adds up to an irresistible non-vintage classic MCC, L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé, from by Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek.

The pinot noir component of 58% is sourced from four vineyards – mostly from the home vines, with the rest from Elandskloof, Darling and Robertson. Most of the 42% chardonnay contribution came from the  Darling area, with the remainder from L’Ormarins and Robertson.

 With alcohol levels at a moderate 12,5%, this pinot noir/chardonnay blend makes the perfect partner to any romantic occasion, and can complement gourmet picnics, al fresco brunches, lunch, supper, high tea or just make a sundowner to remember. At R120, it offers good value as well.

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The  just-released Tanagra Colombard 2017 is, indeed, a maiden release worthy of connoisseur attention, but its also a wine  for all who relish unearthing the unexpected: - In this case finding a Colombard that, having been given star treatment, has risen to the challenge and proved that even cultivars that are not regarded as “noble” can be transformed into classy wines worthy of special status.

The beautiful little Tanagra wine farm and distillery a few kilometres outside McGregor village  has established itself as a hugely popular venue both for locals and international visitors. Beautifully restored by Robert and Anette Rosenbach it is a haven of tranquillity in a valley where vines and orchards roll up to the foothills of the Sonderend mountains. The indigenous flora – mostly Little Karoo but with patches of mountain fynbos – is as lovingly preserved on Tanagra as are the vineyards, and Continental travellers make a beeline for Tanagra’s two “getaway” self-catering cottages – off-the-grid, stylish accommodation complete with plunge pools and sweeping views. There are other cottages to hire on the main farm, within shouting distance of the giant and ancient wild fig tree that shades the tasting room courtyard.

The certified single vineyard that is home to the Colombard grapes that yielded their juice to this golden-hued wine is 20 years old and this maturity is reflected in the structure and complexity of the wine.  The nose offers fruit – subtropical,  stone fruit with a hint of characteristic  guava. Although fairly  light-bodied there are hints of flint to round out the fresh zippiness that accompanies  dry but fruity notes on the palate. Alcohol levels are kept to a moderate 13,5%.  Wild-yeast fermented  the Colombard spent 10 months on the lees before being bottled.

 It’s one of these rare white wines that tastes even better the next day after being opened and having spent a  night in the fridge, and reveals its character better if it’s not over-chilled.  Production was limited to 2 500 bottles, and the cellar door price is R80.

What has been nicely  proven here  is that’s  there is more to Colombard than its capacity as a major component of  base wine for our brandy production.

With this unique release the McGregor valley has added another “first” to its burgeoning   reputation for diverse and quality ranges:  
Another limited edition from Tanagra is their immensely popular Cabernet Franc Blanc de Noir, the 2017 vintage having also just been released. Previous vintages have taken little time to sell out, so all wanting this outstanding “pink” (which this year is darker than usual, strawberry-hued, thanks to concentrated berries) should waste no time in stocking up.    As before its dry, packed with berry flavours and presenting a fine balance between fruit and friskiness.

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No blog about Tanagra can be complete without mention of the impressive and substantial ranges of grappa or marc and eaux de vie that Robert Rosenbach crafts in his charming distillery – here, as with his wines, innovation melds with quality to intrigue guests who sample uncommon products  like quince and lemon eau de vie  along with more classic creations. And few leave without clutching a slim bottle of his irresistible Tanagra Orange Liqueur, with its extraordinarily concentrated citrus flavours.  (Tip for a festive finale: pair it with very dark chocolate sprinkled over a vanilla panna cotta.)

Tanagra  is open to the public for tastings and sales seven days a week, but it’s advisable to contact the farm ahead if possible to make sure the owners are there. For more information,  and details of their range of impressive reds not mentioned here, visit www.tanagra-wine.co.za, or send an e-mail to tanagra@tanagra-wine.co.za.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Winelovers make Christmas gift shopping painless for the giver, especially if their preference in wine styles is known. If budgets are limited to under R100, the choice is still huge, as there are dozens of good quality, enjoyable Cape wines that sell for less – sometimes a lot less.

Wines that offer something extra include the Anthonij Rupert Protea labels while the range is wide enough to suit every taste. These are wines that are meant to be drunk soon, and they come in bottles designed to be re-used, or upcycled as their marketing department terms it . As the bottles are all decorated with attractive floral designs in white, they can be re-used to make attractive tumblers, vases and other items, given the talents of professional glass-cutters.

The bottles also sport Helix closures, which are usually only found on pricier wines. This innovative design combines cork and glass in a resealable top , as the twist-out cork can be closed by hand in the threaded bottle neck.

The range consists of four whites and a rosé, selling for between R50 and R60 and three reds are priced at between R60 and R70. Find them at the Franschhoek farm or a select outlets countrywide.

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A  welcome newcomer was released at Morgenster estate last month when Giulio Bertrand and his team presented  the maiden Vespri 2017 to media and friends at his hillside tasting pavilion.

The first white in his Italian opera-themed collection, Vespri is produced from Vermentino grapes, a Sardinian cultivar that is starting to make an appearance at the Cape, although Morgenster’s vineyard is still in its infancy.

Named for  Verdi’s opera VespriSiciliani , the new addition is bright lemon in hue  in spite of its youth. It is fresh and dry with notes of flint to balance stone fruit flavours on the palate, moderate alcohol levels reflecting current tastes, Above all this, like nearly all Italian labels, is a wine made for food, to complement summer fare of seafood, salads and antipasti. It is the ideal partner to festive tables of al fresco Mediterranean dishes, lingered over at long tables in deep shade.

Vespri is a lightweight companion to Tosca, Nabucco and Caruso, rounding off the two reds – former of Sangiovese with Bordeaux blends and with Nabucco starring  Nebbiolo  - along with Caruso, a rosé of Sangiovese. Now there is  a quartet that can elevate every culinary occasion.

Vespri costs R120 from the farm and their online shop http://morgenster.co.za/ and is also available from selected  retailers.

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