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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Lou guesses Italian, I guess Bordeaux

I went over to Lou’s house a few weeks ago.  We each brown bagged a few wines for each other to guess.  We only skirted with brilliance, informally I would say we are closer in guessing vintages than the regions the wine came from.  I brought the Rhone trio because negociants were still in their heydey at the end of the 1970s.  This clearly evident in the basic 1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage which is in absolutely fine shape today.  My brother-in-law’s guess that the bottle contained mature Cotes du Rhone is on the mark.  From an excellent vintage the 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph is deeply aromatic and powerful.  Today it is very bloody on the nose and simpler in the mouth but I suspect it was a brute in youth.  It fell apart before the Crozes.  In case we needed confirmation that the Jaboulet Aine Crozes is a good wine I opened the miserable bottle of 1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage.

I guessed Washington state for the 1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley.  Clearly an excellent wine, it remains attractively aromatic yet continues to expand in flavor for hours.  After a few hours of air it becomes racy and texture.  I suspect this wine will develop for another year or two.  The 1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch confused me.  The salty start reminded me of certain Syrah based wines but the herbaceousness had me leaning towards a minor wine from Bordeaux.  It is surprisingly unevolved but it may never actually arrive at maturity.

1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  There is a good nose of mature Rhone fruit that persists until the bottle is finished.  In the mouth are rounded, perfumed flavors with a clear amount of good blue fruit and spices still present.  It finishes with some menthol gum freshness.  *** Now.

1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is metallic at first then it remains deeply aromatic evoking blood and iron.  It is tangy on the nose.  There is a bright fruit start then a black fruited middle moved by watering acidity.  The wine has power but the flavors become simpler towards the end.  The strength of the vintage comes through but the wine has seen better days.  * Now.

1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage
This smells disjointed and tastes clunk, as if sweetness was added.  Poor.

1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley
This wine is a blend of 92% Grenache, 6% Zinfandel, and 2% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a touch lighter in color making it medium garnet.  The wine changes with air for several hours, all the while maintaining a lovely nose of mixed berries and spice.  In the mouth is a ripe and perfumed start followed by a brief period of austerity.  It soon becomes racy with ripe flavors and power complemented by a fine texture and spiced finish.  This is a enjoyable wine just about to enter its mature plateau.  **** Now – 2023.

1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
Imported by Cape Classics.  Alcohol 13%.  This looks young in the glass and still has a purple, grapey dark core.  The dark, salty start is interesting then the wine turns almost bitter with bits of green herbaceousness and very fine, drying tannins. It remains firm, never opening up.  ** Now but will last.

A South African Trio

February 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Our recent exploration of three South African red Bordeaux blend wines began with the 2013 Ridgeback, Journey, Paarl.  This is an effusive wine to drink over the short term.  It should continue to offer up supple flavors of black fruit, and leather for the next few years.  The 2010 Morgenster, Lourens River Valley, Stellenbosch steps things up.  The nose reveals the large inclusion of Cabernet Franc while notes of tobacco and leather reveal the oak aging.  The oak comes across more in flavor than in drying tannins.  I suggest you let this lively blue and black fruited wine rest for a few months then start drinking it over the next few years.  The 2011 Rustenberg, John X Merriman, Stellenbosch is a young, well-made wine that has interesting fruit, fresh acidity, and the structure to develop for several  years.  It will clearly benefit from short-term aging so I suggest you drink the two other wines while this one slumbers in your cellar or fridge.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Ridgeback, Journey, Paarl – $13
Imported by Cape Starz Wine.  This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 16% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14%.  The flavorful, almost effusive wine, has a core of black fruit and picks up some tartness towards the finish. The wine puckers the sides of the tongue before taking some leather.  With air it reveals supple flavors and a note of leather. There is a little bit of spirit in the end.  ** Now – 2018.

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2010 Morgenster, Lourens River Valley, Stellenbosch – $26
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Petit Verdot that was fermented in stainless steel then aged 16 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The fresh aromas reminded me of Cabernet Franc, eventually developing hints of tobacco and red plums.  In the mouth were lively flavors of blue and black fruit which were almost supple.  There was a tart red hint.  The wine sported a fine texture and not too much in the way of tannins.  Overall the wine was nicely integrated with smoke and tobacco notes from the oak.  *** Now – 2020.

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2011 Rustenberg, John X Merriman, Stellenbosch – $27
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% albec.  Alcohol 14%. Imported by the Indigo Wine Group.  The nose was tight with a slight hint of greenhouse in the end.  In the mouth were focused and finely textured flavors of blue fruit that mixed with ripe tannins and dry spices.  Clearly tasting young this has the fruit, fresh acidity, and structure to develop.  With air the wine remains fresh with more concentration, density, and drying structure.  *** 2017-2022.

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Interesting wines from Chile, Greece, Moldova, Romania, and more!

There is no shortage of diversity in the wine selections available in Washington, DC.  If you can only try one wine in today’s post that should be the 2011 Garage Wine Co, Cabernet Franc Lot #36, Maipo Valley, Chile.  Garage Wine Co., produces attractive and unique wines.  While the Cabernet Franc appears to be sold out (the empty bottles were packed in the move so I am not timely) the Carignan is still available.  From Greece, I certainly recommend the orange citrus flavors of the 2011 Domaine Zafeirakis, Limniona, Thessaly, Greece.  Continuing with the indigenous vein then you should check out the exotic nose of the 2011 Hereditas, Babeasca Neagra, Romania.  Finally, the 2013 Pieter Cruythoff, Pinotage Middelpos, Swartland, South Africa offers bitters like flavors making it a Pinotage like no other. I’ll grant that it is a bit polarizing but any intrepid drinker should pick up a bottle.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Garage Wine Co, Carignan Lot #34, Maule Valley, Chile – $32
Imported by SWG Imports.  Alcohol 14.3%.  Aromas of raspberry candy made way to dense flavors with the texture of an unfiltered wine.  This showed more acidity with tart cherry flavor and red fruit through the end.  The wine built flavor with time showing both ripe and citric flavors including raspberry followed by a lipsticky finish.  *** Now – 2018.

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2011 Garage Wine Co, Cabernet Franc Lot #36, Maipo Valley, Chile – $32
Imported by SWG Imports.  Alcohol 14.3%.  The raspberry aromas mixed with herbaceous notes and tobacco.  In the mouth were ripe and dense flavors that combined an herbaceous hint.  This savory wine had a lot of chewy flavors accented by chocolate before the not too bitter finish.  With air it showed complexity in the way of forest notes and perhaps tar.  ***(*) 2016-2022.

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2013 Pieter Cruythoff, Pinotage Middelpos, Swartland, South Africa – $18
Imported by Kyslea Pere et Fils.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a complex nose of bitters and red fruit.  The aromas echoed in the mouth with ripe then dry, grippy flavors.  The structure came out as rather fine, drying tannins.  The wine was simultaneously tart, ripe, grippy, and creamy with greenhouse notes and cocktail bitters.  It morphed towards blue fruit in the finish.  Ultimately, the wine showed a ripe core of fruit surrounded by powdery, dry, and finely textured tannins.  Different! *** Now-2018.

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2013 Et Cetera, Cuvee Rouge, Moldova – $19
Imported by Sarego Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Saperavi, and 5% Rara Neagra that was aged in Hungarian and American oak barrels. Alcohol 13.0%.  In the mouth were ripish, red fruit around a core of watering acidity.  As the wine progressed it came dry with black flavors, textured tannins, and a dry, graphite finish.  Overall this is a young that develops a strong nature.  ** Now – 2018.

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2012 Groot Constantia, Shiraz, South Africa – $17
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  Alcohol 14%.  There were smoky aromas of black fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tight with ripe flavors that built in strength.  The black fruit continued with some camphor and fresh, greenhouse notes.  This young wine textured, floral impressions.  ** Now 2019.

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2011 Hereditas, Babeasca Neagra, Romania – $11
Imported by A&M Imports.  This wine is 100% Babeasca Neagra.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was different and exotic with both floral and citrus note.  In the mouth the dry, blue and black fruit was supported by a drying, black structure.  The wine was spritely on the tongue tip with some baking spices, young tannins on the gums, and good texture.  The finish was a bit short before the refreshing aftertaste.  ** Now-2017.

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2013 Chateau Vartely, Sec Rosu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moldova – $8
Imported by Salveto Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose smelled of slightly inky bell peppers.  In the mouth were flavors of ripe, blue fruit, and green peppers.  With air the cool, blue fruit fleshed out a bit.  While not indicative of any particular place, it is a solid drink for the price.  * Now.

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2011 Domaine Zafeirakis, Limniona, Thessaly, Greece – $20
Imported by Oenos LLC.  This wine is 100% Limniona.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine developed tart, red fruit with just a slight, liveliness on the tongue despite being acidity driven.  It developed a fine ripe set of light, orange-citrus flavors and black fruit that left impressions of ripeness on the gums.  The wine had a lighter, lift of creamy flavors towards the finish and ultimately, an attractive bit of ink.  **(*) 2016-2019.

Compelling Shiraz from Stellenbosch

We continue to oscillate between our old and new houses.  Today it was to check in on the refinished floors which look great now that they are done.  With my attention drawn to the new house the wines I open are more random in selection.  Tim recently brought in several new South African wines with the 2010 Tokara, Shiraz, Stellenbosch one of them.  This is my favorite of a trio Jenn and I tasted through.  I found that the subtle influences of saddle leather, smoke, and earth already add complexity. The wine is a bit firm from youth so you should try a bottle now to satisfy your curiosity then cellar several more bottles for the winter.  At $19 per bottle this is a good value.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Tokara, Shiraz, Stellenbosch – $19
Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co.  This wine is a blend of 89% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre that was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and oak foudres then aged for 18 months in 10% new French barriques.  Alcohol 15%.  Aromas of saddle leather made way to black fruit with a touch of smoke.  With air, the very ripe core of fruit took on a subtle earthy hint.  It showed more acidity and firmness in the finish.  Overall, this compelling wine was concentrated, salty, persistent, and in need of just a bit more aging.  *** 2016-2020.

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New house and new wine

We formally took possession of our new house yesterday morning allowing our contractor to begin work on our first projects.  This involves refinishing the hardwood floors and stairs as well some window work.  The original windows that flank the fireplace chimney were covered by built-in bookshelves.  That wall with its windows will be restored.  Our first day at the house would be incomplete without Champagne so we explored our property with glasses of NV Pascal Doquet, Brut Rose in our hands.   The Champagne certainly complemented our planned day of relaxation before we return to uprooting our lives.  Over the next week work will take place at both houses and we will move!  Of course I must still gather a slew of empty boxes for our wine.

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Speaking of wine, we tasted several new bottles from South Africa this week, one of which is the second wine of Ankwilka Vineyard.  Anwilka Vineyards was created by Lowell Jooste (the former co-owner of Klein Constantia), Hubert de Boüard (co-owner of Chateau Angélus), and Bruno Prats (former owner of Chateau Cos d’Estournel).  Three years ago Anwilka and Klein Constantia merged. I could not tell you how this merger has impacted the wine but what I do know is the 2012 Anwilka, Petit Frère, Stellenbosch should be cellared for the short-term.  The black fruit and mineral flavors are attractive but the strong structure suggests it needs to slumber.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Anwilka, Petit Frère, Stellenbosch – $17
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 64% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8% Petit Verdot sourced from the estate vineyard near False Bay.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine offered up black, powdery flavors that became dry and mineral.  There was a citric grip in the finish as well as a definite structure of strong tannins.  ** 2017-2020.

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I enjoy a little oak in my South African whites

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

We tasted through three South African white wines from the 2012 vintage before the single-digit cold spell hit Washington, DC.  The 2012 Bouchard Finlayson, Chardonnay, Crocodile’s Lair/Kaaimansgat , Overberg was the most acidity oriented of them all.  For me I kept noticing the acidity more than the white fruit flavors.  While the profile of the wine might change with age, right now it is perfect for those acidity hounds out there.   The 2012 Rustenberg, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch was clearly raised in oak.  It is not overwhelming, rather a complement to the yellow, creamy, and spiced flavors.  We have enjoyed previous vintages of this wine and with this one, I would recommend holding it until the fall to let the oak integrate more.  The 2012 De Morgenzon, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch shifts in grape variety and in price.  Though young and in need of age it already exhibits dense, rich, tart fruit that has a beguiling petrol or honey flavored middle.   Like the Rustenberg, it too needs time in the cellar, but this will develop over a longer period.  Both the Rustenberg and De Morgenzon have a lot to offer at their price points.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Bouchard Finlayson, Chardonnay, Crocodile’s Lair/Kaaimansgat , Overberg – $22
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was aged for 8 months in 25% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was copper accented golden straw.  There was focused white fruit flavors with lively acidity.  The wine has some weight but presents itself as lighter with more lively, watering acidity.  In fact, the acidity is more noticeable than the fruit.  It also has a subtle texture.  ** Now-2018.

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2012 Rustenberg, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch – $22
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines on soils of decomposed granite that was aged for 12 months in 40% new Burgundian hogsheads.  Alcohol 14%.  The wine was a bright straw color with toasty yellow and white fruit aromas.  In the mouth were somewhat weighty flavors that expanded quickly.  The acidity was lively from the start whereas the toast notes slowly built through the finish.  The wine takes on a creamy and spiced middle with creamy finish and a lighter aftertaste accented by some toast.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 De Morgenzon, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch – $33
Imported by Cape Classic.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 41 year old vines that was fermented with indigenous yeast in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a golden straw.  The nose was floral with chalky yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the flavors reflected the color with dense, rich, tart yellow fruit that had plenty of texture.  There was a petrol-like, perhaps honey, flavor in the middle, ripe lemon notes in the finish, and a persistent aftertaste. ***(*) Now-2020.

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Trepat, Fer Servadou, and Pinotage

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Here are three more notes which have been languishing.  The most interesting wine was from Domaine Plageoles in Gaillac.  It is made from the South West varietal Fer Servadou which I also encountered in the 2008 Domaine du Cros, Marcillac.  My notes on these two wines show similarities so I suggest you try either bottle.  The Domaine Foraster is of interest because it is made from Trepat which is typically used in sparkling wine production.  Lastly, the Kanonkop  is a decant Bordeaux blend with a South African Pinotage twist.   Make sure you decant it ahead of time or you will be disappointed.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines and MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Domaine Plageoles, Braucol, Gaillac – around $22
Imported by Jenny & Francois.  This wine is 100% Fer Servadou sourced from vines planted in the 1990s.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose is of light pepper and red fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit and pepper have a gentle weight before the flavors become tart and end with some ripeness.  The acidity is watering.  There is, perhaps, a greenhouse note.  A good, complete wine.  *** Now.

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2010 Mas Foraster, Josep Foraster, Trepat, Conca de Barbera – around $20
Imported by T. Edwards Wine.  This wine is 100% Trepat which is aged for five months in French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light cherry garnet.  The light nose was lifted with aromas of grapefruit and pepper.  In the mouth the bright red fruit was clean with peppery fruit, lots of acidity then a powdery perfumed aftertaste. This light bodied wine is for drinking now.  ** Now.

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2010 Kanonkop, Kadette, Stellenbosch – $13
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is a blend of 44% Pinotage, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc sourced from 5-30 year old vines.  It fermented in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The light to medium nose reveals smoky meat.  In the mouth there is bright tart fruit which mixes with smoky red fruit.  The tart, young fruit puts on some weight with air and takes on blacker, red fruit in the finish.  There is a greenhouse note and a tiny bit of juicy acidity.  This South African claret blend needs an hour of air to show its forward side.  ** Now-2018.

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