Posts Tagged ‘Stellenbosch’

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Affordable White Wines From South Africa

We continue Furlough Friday’s theme of affordable wines by trying these four South African white wines.  I have written about the 2011 Badenhorst, Secateurs, Chenin Blanc before which has now become part of the rotation of white wines which we drink at the house.  For $13 I think it a strong buy and felt it would act as a good reference point for the other wines.  The 2011 Ken Forrester, Old Vine, Reserve proved tasty as well.  It too is a richer style highlighting its barrel fermentation well, along with minerals and juicy acidity.  The 2012 Beaumont was vibrant with acidity driven, lemon flavors; the acidity is to be commended but the flavors were not that deep.  It struck me as a wine to drink now.  Lastly the 2012 De Morgenzon, Chardonnay provides, bright and tart fruit in an uncomplicated manner.  If you want bright, acidity driven flavors I would get the 2012 Beaumont instead.  Otherwise I would certainly  try the Badenhorst or Ken Forrester.  Three pretty good choices for $13 per bottle!  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Ken Forrester, Chenin Blanc, Old Vine, Reserve, Stellenbosch – $13
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, half in stainless steel tanks and half in 20% new French oak.  It was aged 10 months on the lees.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light yellow straw.  The nose was a light, yeasty white fruit and stones.  In the mouth there was stoney, ripe white fruit then a tang on the back sides of the tongue.  A little spice came out, some toast, and a little juicy acidity.  The aftertaste brought some sweet fruit (in a ripe sense).  *** Now-2015.


2012 Beaumont, Chenin Blanc, Walker Bay – $13
Imported by Wine@34south.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from Bot River vineyards 8-37 years of age.  This was aged for six months in tank on the lees.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light nose was of brighter fruit, almost pebbly with white lemon aromas.  In the mouth there was a touch of weight to the lemon flavors.  It was vibrant and acidity driven followed by a touch of spices and tannins in the pebbly finish.  Good length.  A white nut, maybe almonds, was left in the mouth.  ** Now.


2011 Badenhorst Family Wines, Secateurs, Chenin Blanc, Swartland – $13
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from old vines, a good deal of which are 50 years old.  The fruit is harvested over 12 days which is added daily to the already fermenting fruit in concrete tank and older French oak casks.  It is then aged for seven months on the gross lees.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light straw yellow.  The yeasty fruit is of yellow and white, with a touch of white nuts.  There is a vibrant start, depth, and a good mouthfeel which coats the mouth.  *** Now-2015.


2012 De Morgenz0n, DMZ, Chardonnay, Western Cape – $15
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was aged on the lees in stainless steel and French oak barrels of which a small portion underwent malolactic fermentation.  After blending it was aged a further three months.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a very light straw.  On the nose there was very light, pebbly white fruit.  In the mouth there was a bright and tart entry of flavors to this light to medium bodied wine.  The fruit became tart on the back of the tongue followed by white nuts.  Good acidity and finish.  Not the most complex.  ** Now-2014.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Red Wines

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment


Mid-afternoon we switched from the white wines to the red wines.  We decided to taste wines from Burgundy, Rhone, South Africa, and Spain.  The Burgundy table was crowded but we managed to get a spot.  I thought the #114 2011 Ecard a good, affordable Burgundy for the cellar.  But it was the #115 Thierry Mortet that captivated with good depth and attractive flavors, this will reward cellaring.

When it comes to the Rhone the 2011 vintage brings forth plenty of ripe fruit with fine, powerful tannins.  The #178 Colline St. Jean presented the vintage well and right now is grapey, modern, and tight.  The previous vintage #179 2010 Colline St. Jean seemed young as well but a bottle I drank a few days earlier showed some openness with a good Mourvedre component.  We tasted one Northern Rhone wine the #180 2011 Joel Champet which again proves to be very good, old-school Cote-Rotie.  We recently drank the 2010 vintage and if you like that, you will like the 2011.  If you are going to actually drink anything at Mondovino, drink the Joel Champet.  I would love to see more Northern Rhone wines like this at Mondovino 2014!  In moving to the huge lineup of Alaine Jaume/Grand Veneur wines Christophe Jaume commented that the 2011 vintage was ripe, less masculine, with more alcohol, and fresher flavors.  Perhaps this is best characterized by #173 the 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes which dials in at 16.5% alcohol!  It certainly was a mouthful but has interesting flavors and managed some control.  At the more affordable end the #171 Grand Veneur showed well with the #169 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte showing the best balance and approachfulness.  All of these wines will benefit from cellaring.

Leaving the French wines we moved over to South Africa.  I though the #265 2010 Mullineux, Syrah an interesting and tasty wine that I should like to revisit.  It is appropriately priced.  It was fun to taste #266 2010 Mullineux Granite and Schist.  Though the fruit for each wine is sourced from a different vineyard they are vinified exactly the same.  The Granite showed good freshness and perfume whereas the Schist was denser.  It would be fun to compare these wines after short-term cellaring.  The #269 Keermont is a savory, dense, masculine version of Syrah.

The #300 2009 Mas Sinen had an interesting nose with weight and roundness to the flavors but also lift.  The #304 2009 Pago de Carraovejas is seductive and as Lou put it, tastes expensive.  It certainly is.  Lastly the #241 2003 Romariz Vintage Port is approachable and rich for only ten years of age.

After four hours of tasting our palates were tired and teeth stained purple.  I think it took 24 hours for my tongue and teeth to feel normal.  My only bit advice for those attending next week is to taste the red Rhones last.  I should also comment that the pour sizes are generous.  There was always enough wine for two or three proper mouthfuls.  It only benefits everyone for you get a better sense of the wine.  It does produce a tremendous volume of wine.  This is handled not by spittoons but 40 gallon garbage cans.  I should like to thank Fran Kysela for his generosity with the wine and food,to Jeremy Sutton for all of his answers, and to both for being supportive of this blog.


#113 – 2010 Ecard, Pinot Noir, Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged six months in used oak barrels.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The very light nose was tight with red fruit.  In the mouth there was firm black cherry fruit which became blacker towards the finish where there was citric acidity and a firm finish.

#114 – 2011 Ecard, Savigny le Beaune – $25
This was a rather light cherry grape color.  The light nose was tight but serious.  In the mouth there was firm red cherry and black fruit.  The wine had a stone-like core with fine ripe tannins.  Tight in flavor, young, and in need of cellaring.

#115 – 2010 Domaine Thierry Mortet, Vigne Belle, Gevrey Chambertin – $85
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines 20-40 years old which was fermented and aged in oak.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The light nose was good with aromas of red and black fruit which had depth.  The mouth followed the nose but was drier with rather fine, drying tannins, and black acidity.  Young.  Nice.


#176 – 2011 Chateau de Segries, Cuvee Reservee, Lirac – $23
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan sourced from 40 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ grapey garnet.  The nose was light and tight with firm berry fruit.  The flavors were riper in the mouth with black and red fruit expanding throughout.  The flavors are young with fine, powerful, spicy tannins, and a grapey finish.  The ripeness was controlled by the structure.

#177 – 2011 Henri de Lanzac, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone – $31
This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre sourced from 40 year old vines. It was fermented in concrete vats then aged for nine months in 95% used French oak barrels.  The color was a dark grapey, inky color.  The nose was very light and tight with aromas of macerated berries.  The mouth was similar but very ripe with powerful tannins drying everything in sight.  The finish seemed overripe with alcohol poking through.

#178 – 2011 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry(?).  The light nose was tight with purple and grapey aromas.  There was good fruit in the mouth, again grapey, with a black graphite finish.  This modern styled wine had very fine, powerful tannins.

#179 – 2010 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  In the mouth this bottle showed tight with herbs and pencil lead.

#180 – 2011 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie – $50
The color was a medium dark garnet.  The light nose had good fruit, olives, and other interesting aromas.  There was a soft entry to the fruit which had levity and depth.  There were flavors of smoke and bacon, a good mouthfeel, and black acidity.  There were drying, grapey tannins.  Old-school and lovely.

Christophe Jaume

Christophe Jaume

#164 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is ablend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The color was a medium grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and young.  In the mouth there was a savory start with a good mouthfeel, ripe fruit, spices, and acidity.  Nice fruit, firm drying tannins, and needs age.

#165 – 2011 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqueyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was a darker grapey, garnet.  The flavors were very concentrated with savory pencil lead, some subtly, and fine tannins.

#167 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqeuyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was medium purple garnet.  There were black cherry and grapey flavors which were balanced but potent.  The structure kept it in control.

#168 – 2009 Alain Jaume, Terrasses de Montmirail, Gigondas – $33
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  The nose was light, tight, and earthy.  The flavors were more approachable but lacking a bit of depth.  It left a mouthful of tannins.  Cellar.


2010 Grand Veneur, Roquedon, Lirac
This was a medium grapey garnet.  The flavors tasted a touch mature in this approachable wine.  There was a brambly nature to the purple, grapey fruit.  Decent wine.

#169 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $30
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  The nose revealed good purple, grapey fruit.  The flavors were savory then came grapey fruit, a savory middle, and slightly spicy tannins.  Good wine.

#170 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Vieux Terron, Chateauneuf du Pape – $45
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  The nose was light, tight, and somewhat haunting with more complexity.  In the mouth there was a tangy, citric element to the black fruit.  The flavors were expansive with very fine, powerful tannins, and a young black finish.

#171 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape – $53
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium to dark purple garnet.  The nose was light and grapey.  There was a seductive start, savory fruit, and low lying, good weight.  Vintage perfume came out in the in the finish.  Well done, nice wine.

#172 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ purple garnet.  The light nose was ripe and dense.  In the mouth there was very ripe, soft fruit, some heat, spicy tannins, and lots of power.

#173 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $121
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-100+ year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 16.5%.  the color was a medium+ dark garnet purple.  In the mouth the fine flavors were almost racy with vanilla, weight, a young aspect, minerals in the core.  It showed more control than Les Origines.   One to watch.

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

#265 – 2010 Mullineux, Syrah – $33
This wine is 100% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 15% new French oak barrels and foudres.  The color was a medium+ garnet.  In the mouth salty, savory, good fruit was dense with smokey notes.  The flavors became lighter and thinner in the middle but took up on glycerine.  The finish was fresh.  Interesting.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Granite, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 17 year old vineyard on soils of sandy granite with a thick layer of clay. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  Much better than the first bottle.  Though just opened the nose was lifted and perfume.  There was a lightness and savory character with a smoke note and lipstick/perfume.  Well done.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Schist, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 15 year old vineyard. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  A good nose with herbs.  Dense in the mouth, purple, and very balanced all around.

#269 – 2010 Keermont, Syrah, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is 100% Syrah.  The color was very dark.  The nose was tight with grapey fruit.  In the mouth this wine was savory and dense with controlled ripeness.  There was good fruit to this masculine wine.  Nice wine.

#268 – 2009 Keermont, Red Blend, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot. It was aged for 24 months in used oak.  Just opened.  The color was a very dark grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and Claret like.  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon came through with good expansion.  The fruit was light but powerful, perhaps a note of stems.  Young and should develop.


#300 – 2009 Mas Sinen, Petit Mas Sinen, Piorat – $39
This wine underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel then was aged for six months in oak barrels.  This was a very dark grapey purple garnet.  The light nose was of lavendar and dark fruit.  The flavors were roundish in the mouth but not heavy.  It took on flavors of Sweet Tarts with weight and lift before the fine, drying tannins in the finish.  Young.


#304 – 2009 Pago de Carraovejas, El Anejon de la Cuesta de las Liebres, Ribera del Duero – $136
This wine is a blend of 93% Tinto Fion, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Merlot.  This was very dark.  The nose was of dark grapes, roast, and other interesting aromas.  In the mouth there was silky fruit, density, and a savory note but the acidity keeps it alive.  There was a little toast in the spicy finish.  Seductive.

#303 – 2010 Pago de Carraovejas, Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $58
This wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in new and used American and French oak barrels.  This was very dark as well.  The nose was a touch fruitier.  This was a lighter version with a good lifted middle, good flavors but a touch hotter.


#241 – 2003 Romariz, Vintage Port – $64
This was a very dark garnet cherry.  The nose was grapey with dried fruit and raisins.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, spices, good residual sugar, and a wood box finish.  Though young for a Vintage Port it is quite approachable.


#250 – 2005 Riebeek, Cape Vintage – $48
This wine is a blend of Touriga National, Pontac, and Shiraz. Alcohol 18.5%.  The nose had a touch of overripe fruit.  There was a rather sweet start with raisins and ultimately too soft for the acidity.  Solid.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

I Find Pleasure in Chardonnay from South Africa

I am always looking out for under $20 bottles of Chardonnay for Jenn.  While the 2009 St. Innocent, Chardonnay, Free Hill Vineyard has become our favorite of the year, at $24 it is too expensive for daily drinking.  I recently purchased and tasted these two bottles from Stellenbosch.  While both were fermented and matured in oak they are completely different wines.  The Rustenberg is a richer, fruitier style with a bit of everything that should please many people.  The Meerlust leans towards citrus flavors with interesting minerality in the aftertaste and a structured style.   My recommendation is to grab a bottle which is your style!  These bottles are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Rustenberg, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch – $18
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay  sourced from 9-25 year old vines located on soils of decomposed granite.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then matured in 60% used Burgundy hogsheads for 12 months.  (Alcohol 14.36% vol, pH 3.4, RS 2.7 g/L, TA 5.6 g/L). The color is light straw with yellow highlights.  The nose is light to medium in strength with lively yellow fruit, a little rich, and the smallest touch of toast.  It gains a floral aroma with air.  In the mouth the fruit is brambly with yellow notes as it expands into the mouth with pear and white fruit flavors.  There is a softness midpalate as the acidity comes out, making one salivate and enjoy a touch of tannins.  Drank great over three nights.  *** Now-2015.

2009 Meerlust, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch – $20
Imported by Maison Marque & Domaines.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 18-year-old vines located on alluvial Dundee soils.  It was fermented in 60% new Allier French oak and 40% second fill oak barrels.  Half of the barrels underwent indigenous fermentation.  It underwent malolactic fermentation before aged 12 months in barrel.  (Alcohol 13.5% vol, pH 3.48, RS 1.9 g/L, TA 6.1 g/L). The color is a light+ golden-yellow.  The nose is definitely full of citrus mixed with nuts and floral aromas.  In the mouth the wine is slightly energetic with crisp flavors of lemon.  It takes on some creaminess in the middle followed by toast notes.  There is a long minerally aftertaste that leaves some pleasing tannins on the tongue.  This is structured.  *** Now-2016.

Three Diverse Wines

I am constantly tasting and drinking wine so I inevitably start falling behind in my posts.  In order to start catching up this post features three completely different wines.  I imagine there should be something for everyone.  The Luberri, Seis is an outstanding value that might get you hooked on modern Rioja and will have you pouring a second glass.  The Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes is strong in personality and should benefit from a year or two in the cellar.  The Laibach, Ladybird is South African in aroma and will benefit from short-term aging.  These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Luberri Vineyards, Seis, Rioja – $13
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 15-25 year old vines located on poor chalky clay soils.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for six months in French and American oak.  This was approachable right out of the glass with scented red-violet fruit on the nose.  In the mouth the gravelly fruit is medium-bodied with grapey hints and flavors of cherry, dark cranberry…berrylicious!  The flavors make way to supportive acidity and grapey tannins which are integrated into the light, flowing weight.  Towards the finish the wine becomes perfumed with spices, cinnamon, and a changing vanilla note.  Why wait? Drink now!  *** Now-2014.

2009 Domaine Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas – $15
Imported by Wine Traditions.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  The fruit is sourced from old plots of vines planted in 1939 on the isolated Pic de Remont mountain.  The fruit is fermented in oak foudres and stainless steel vats then aged for six months in vat.  Drunk over two nights there is a pungent nose of cherry and aromas reminiscent of fruit fermented a long time in wood, along with hints of black tea.  In the mouth the flavors are light to medium in weight, a little tart with a touch of wood notes.  The ripe, grapey tannins in the aftertaste are rather nice.  On the second night, flavors of strawberry and Kirsch develop in this light wine with cherries in the middle then focused notes of stone.  The acidity makes the tongue salivate before the ripe, good textured tannins come out.  *** Now-2015.

2009 Laibach, The Ladybird, Stellenbosch – $18
Imported by Wine@34South.  This wine is a blend of 54% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Petit Verdot sourced from the first certified vineyards in Stellenbosch.  The vineyards are located on deep clay soils which were planted in 1994.  The fruit is fermented in open top stainless steel tanks with combination of indigenous and inoculated yeasts.  The wine is aged for 12-15 months in 100% French oak barrels.  The nose has delicate texture with aromas of cedar and leafy, green house.  In the mouth the fruit has subtle ripeness, flavors of applewood smoked bacon, and old lavender perfume before becoming blue in flavor with plenty of acidity.  Needs a bit of cellaring to open up.  ** 2014-2017.