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The Wines of Keermont

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Just under two weeks ago Jeremy from Kysela Pere et Fils recommended that I try out the wines of Keermont.  Their wines are a new addition to the Kysela portfolio and ones which they are excited about.  I stopped by MacArthurs last week to pick up three of the selections.

The Keermont Winery, Image from Kysela

Keermont is composed of two old farms, Fleurfontein and Keerweder III, which were purchased by the Wraith family in 2003.  In 2005 they started a major effort to plant vineyards with the first vintage release in 2007.   The vineyards are planted in blocks throughout the farm which are surrounded by natural vegetation.  Within a block the parcels are individually managed in terms of varietal, density, training, and irrigation.  In 2010 they converted a spring water bottling plant into their winery.

Vineyard, Image from Keermont

There are currently four wines produced.  I tried three and left the sticky for a future post.  These wines left impressions of being carefully made, purity, and focus.  I was most excited by the white Terrasses and the Syrah.  These are worth searching out for.

2010 Keermont, Terrasse, Stellenbosch
This wine is 88% Chenin Blanc, 7% Chardonnay, and 5% Viognier.  This wine was fermented and aged on lees for 11 months in second and third fill French oak barrels.  I do not drink much white wine, let alone Chenin Blanc but I muts admit this is a lovely wine.  The wine is a very light straw color.  It is important not to drink this wine too cold.  The savory, restrained fruit is delivered with a creamy body, clean stone flavors, and a racy finish.  The fresh, focused, apple like fruit has acidity and texture that dances on the tongue.  A pleasant mouthfeel!  This drank well over several nights and I suspect might be best in a year or two. ***(*) 2014-2017.

2009 Keermont, Syrah, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines on the north facing vineyard of Helderberg.  The wine was aged for 22 months in French oak.  Only four barrels were produced.  Mourvedre and Viognier were also planted for possible use in the future.  The nose is delicate though very perfumed with a depth to the purity of the fruit and evocative of the Northern Rhone.  The fruit flavors are young with restraint, some dark notes, drying tannins, and persistant aftertaste.  With air notes of vanilla develop on the nose.  In the mouth it becomes very elegant, with mineral flavors that coat the mouth, a savory, salty character, and a richness that exceeds the Red Blend.  I would cellar this a few years. ***(*) 2014-2019.

2008 Keermont, Red Blend, Stellenbosch
This flagship wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 20%Syrah.  The wine was aged for 20 months in second fill French oak barrels.  Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec were also planted and may be included once the vineyards mature.  It took several hours for this to step out of the glass.  There are lots of upfront flavor with restrainted black cherry, blackberry, finely delineated pencil lead and cedar that make way to bright acidity in the midpalate.  There are very fine, subtle tannins that show texture in the finish.  There is a bit of a green herb note that identifies this wine as South African. *** Now-2019.

We Take A Break From Continental Europe

September 22, 2011 1 comment

Vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe, LA Cetto, Image by eltono (flickr)

I always find it fun to shake things up and drink outside of our usual regions.  I was looking forward to the L.A. Cetto from Mexico but this was not a good wine.  It had been years since I drank one of their wines  but what I do remember is that they were enjoyable.  At this price point it is worth trying a different selection.  The Camberley is a decent value but somewhat uninteresting.  The Yves Leccia from Corsica is certainly worth a try if you have never drunk a Corsican wine but it is a bit over priced.  The big surprise was the Dr. Konstantin Frank Chardonnay from New York!  This is a cool climate Chardonnay that might appeal to those willing to venture away from bigger styles.  At $15 it is a strong value and a wine that everyone should try.

A Vineyard In Corsica, Image by there2roam (flickr)

The L.A. Cetto was purchased for $12 at The Wine Cellar/Exxon gas station in Ocean City, MD.  The Yves Leccia is imported by Kermit Lynch and purchased for $20 at MacArthurs.  The Camberley Prohibition was purchased for $15-$20 at MacArthur’s.  The Dr. Konstantin Frank was purchased for $15 at Wegmans in Fairfax, VA.

2008 L.A. Cetto, Petit Sirah, Baja California
This wine is 100% Petit Sirah that was aged for six months in French barriques.  Unfortunately, not so good.  Very forward, jammy, overtly fruity wine.  I could not drink it but Jenn enjoyed a glass. * Now.

2009 Domaine d’E Croce (Yves Leccia), Cuvee YL, Corsica
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Nielluciu that was fermented and aged for 12 months in stainless steel.  This has pine-sol notes of pine and lemon to the tooty-fruity red aromas.  In the mouth the hard red flavors had some texture in this light to medium-bodied wine.  There are some blue fruits that mix with hints of minerals as the wine becomes lifted.  Fine+ tannins come out in the finish and aftertaste. ** Now-2015.

2006 Camberley, Prohibition, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 28 months.  Of the 14 barrels that were aged, four were used for the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 10 for the Prohibition.  This was dark with a nose of eucalyptus and graphite.  In the mouth the dark, sour fruits mixed with tart acidity and continued into the dark, steely aftertaste.  There were minimal tannins.  Needs more verve. ** Now.

2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Finger Lakes
This is 100% Chardonnay where a portion of free-run juice was fermented in French oak barrels with the rest in stainless steel vats.  It was aged for ten months in barrel.  On the second night there was a nice, lifted nose of rich fruit.  In the mouth the medium weight fruit had a soft attack followed by flinty qualities.  The fruit was apple-like with some heft, a bit of sweet spice, and green apple-like acidity.  Actually quite pleasing. *** Now.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vineyard, Image by bobindrums (flickr)

Tasting South African Wines with Lou

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Lou and Aaron

Lou came over last week to taste a selection of South African wines with Jenn and myself.  We usually alternate houses for our mid-week tastings but his situation is a bit chaotic due to his current expansion.  As I recently saw , both his kitchen and dinning room have been relocated into his living room.  An odd sight but quite convenient.  If you think that all we ever do together is drink wine, eat cheese, and eat salami then you are correct.  We both love wine and spend significant amounts of our free time buying, tasting, reading, and writing about wine.  While I now write posts for this blog Lou writes in his journals.

We did not take a group ranking.  The Vilafonte and Boekenhoutskloof were distinctly different from the other four wines so of these two I would rank them:

  1. 2007 Boekenhoutskloof, Syrah
  2. 2006 Vilafonte, Series M

Of the remaining four wines I would place the 2002’s on top.  Lou tried the Camberley on the third night and found it “pretty shot”, shame!

  1. 2002 Camberley, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
  2. 2002 Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. 2005 Kanonkop, Paul Sauer
  4. 2003 Rudi Schultz, Syrah

The Bottles

The Camberley was purchased from Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar in Cape Town and the remaining wines were purchased from MacArthur’s over the last year or so.  As always the wines were double-decanted then served blind.  The leftovers were split up, injected with Private Preserve, then retasted later.  We started with the Salomon, which I realize is an odd choice, but as Jenn does not like Riesling, I wanted to share the bottle with Lou.  I have listed the wines in the order that we tasted them.

Starter – 2006 Salomon, Riesling Pfaffenberg
This wine is 100% Riesling from vines grown on gneiss and granite.  This wine was a golden color.  It had a honey-like nose that was soft with notes of yeast.  In the mouth there were soft flavors of apple, stones, and a nice mid-palate texture that went with the tree-fruit acidity.  It was balanced. *** Now-2015.

1 – 2006 Vilafonte, Series M
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 14% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The wine was fermented with 50% natural yeast and 50% inoculated then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  This stood out with its distinct profile.  The nice mouthfeel was creamy with fruit, minerality, and vanilla notes.  It was refreshing to drink, “mint” according to Lou, with resolved tannins and a creamy finish.  On the second night this modern wine was young in profile with tart and bright fruit, minerals, spicy, and hints of coconuts. ***(*) Now-2017.

2 – 2002 Camberley, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Stellenbosch
Lou purchased this for 90 Rand at Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar in Cape Town.  This wine is a blend of three-quarters Cabernet Sauvignon and one-quarter Merlot.  The fruit was sourced from eight year old vines with the wine aged for 14 months in 60% new French, Russian, and American oak.  It was obvious that this was a mature wine with its medium strength nose of older aromas.  The soft flavors were savory with notes of barrel toast.  Mature with a rich body, this was a well made wine.  On the second night the nose took on mint while the body maintained its plumpness and good texture. *** Now.

3 – 2005 Kanonkop, Paul Sauer, Stellenbosch
The Paul Sauer is a blend of approximately 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Merlot that is aged for 22-26 months in new French oak barrels.  It had the lightest nose of these first three wines.  Though light, it was appealing with dry dusty herbs that contained a Lavender aroma.  In the mouth it had green pepper, the most acidity, and a slight, tannic aftertaste of barrel influences.  It left a chalky impression and was “medicinal” to Jenn.  On the second night it was a bit strange with a prickly introduction followed by spice, an ethereal medicinal midpalate, and some heat.  Definitely out of whack. Not Rated.

4 – 2007 Boekenhoutskloof, Syrah
This was the second distinctive wine.  This wine is 100% Syrah from a specific parcel located on decomposed granite.  The vines were planted in 1993.  The grapes were fermented with natural yeast then aged for 23 months in barrel.  The nose was markedly different with a young Syrah notes and fresh grit that jumps into one’s nose.  Rich in the mouth with red currant, a savory character, and some clean, jammy fruit.  The aftertaste is inky with mint and sweet cream.  On the second night the wine still stood out and had continued to develop over the previous night.  While the nose was simpler the flavors in the mouth continued to change. ***(*) Now-2017.

5 – 2003 Rudi Schultz, Syrah, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Syrah from a single vineyard located on a granite base with coarse sand on gravel and some wet clay.  The grapes were fermented with natural yeast then aged for 20 months in 30% new French oak barrels.  This was simpler in flavor with fresh, red fruit that was smooth in the mouth and delicately mixed with garrigue.  A mature, modern wine with flavors that drop off as the aftertaste is approached.  On the second night, there is a delicate nose of herbs.  The somewhat mature flavors mix with vegetables, “earthy straw flavors” according to Jenn, then the wine thins out becoming simpler with hard blue flavors. * Now.

6 – 2002 Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 22-26 months in new and second-fill French oak barrels.  It started off with a medium-strength dirty nose with a green vein.  In the mouth the initial fruit was youthful then turned older and spicy when it mixed with old perfume.  It felt disjointed.  On the second night Jenn found “kiwi skin nose”, a bit of roast, more astringent red fruit, dry herbs, coarse tannins, and some heat. ** Now.

The Corks

Two Wines from Warwick Estate

Warwick Winery, Image from Warwick Estate

We have drunk the wines of Warwick Estate for quite some time.  I prefer my Pinotage in a blend and The Three Cape Ladies has never disappointed.  It typically drinks well when young but also benefits from short-term aging.  When I saw this bottle for $22 at Rodman’s in Rockville I grabbed it for a casual afternoon on our deck.  The Reserve was purchased at MacArthur’s for $25.  Jenn and I both love aged wine so I occasionally impulse buy older, affordable vintages from good producers.

A Warwick Vineyard, Image from Warwick Estate

I would recommend buying the Three Cape Ladies and pass on the Reserve.  My casual tasting notes appear below.

2007 Warwick Estate, Three Cape Ladies, Stellenbosch
This wine is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Pinotage, 27% Syrah and 4% Merlot that was aged for 32 months in 30% new, medium-toast French oak barrels.  There is a nose of blacker fruits with some oak notes.  In the mouth the dark fruit flavors are somewhat sweet, rich, and modern in profile.  The noticeable wood tannins are just one part of this integrated wine.  Right now this is an enjoyable, gutsy wine but it should develop with a few years of age.  This wine should appeal to many as our bottle was readily consumed by our friends.

2002 Warwick Estate, Reserve, Stellenbosch
This wine is a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 28% Cabernet Franc.  The 2005 vintage was aged for 24 months in 60% new French oak.  We tried this wine over two nights.  The nose was of medium strength with a predominant aroma of wood smoke mixed with black cherry.  In the mouth, this medium-bodied wine had some interesting black fruit and incense, but the smoke flavors were too overpowering.  While this wine will last for many more years, I suspect the smoke flavor will not dissipate.

Washington State and Others

March 6, 2010 2 comments
A small group of us got together for a last minute, casual tasting this weekend by the warmth of a roaring fire. Present were Lou, Shane, Denise, Jenn and myself. The wines were brown-bagged for fun. The two cabs were served last and everyone was aware they would be distinctly different. The K Vintners, Abeja, and O’Shea Scarborough were double-decanted one hour prior to the tasting. Everything else was double-decanted right before the tasting.

At the end everyone commented on the pleasure of tasting a diverse set of wines. The K Vintners bottle stumped two of the tasters who couldn’t figure out where it was from and were leaning towards Australia. The Tardieu-Laurent continued to significantly develop throughout the night and suffered in ranking as a result. The Hogue was quite lovely and firing on all cylinders. I thought the Thelema offered a South African profile.

2007 Tardieu-Laurent, Rasteau Vieilles Vignes
This is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah aged in new and one year old oak casks. At first a light nose of earthy, wild aromas. It was very tight in the mouth, with not a lot coming out. But after an hour it morphed showing sweeter red, gritty fruit, with raspberry candy flavors in a powerful frame. Definitely young. Another taster commented that it was soft and subtle.

2006 Shane, The Unknown, Syrah, Sonoma County
125 cases of this were made by Shane Finley. When he is not working at Kostra Browne he makes these wines. Showing a light-plus nose of brighter, red fruit, and smoke from toast. This was the biggest, roundest, and most extracted of all showing bluer fruit in the finish. This was a standout and could use some more time to integrate. Another taster found there to be more fruit and slight more viscous body than the T-L.

2007 K Vintners, Pheasant Vineyard, Syrah, Walla Walla
191 cases were made from a vineyard only planted in 2000 on the Wahluke Slope! This wine sported a very light nose of dark fruit. It had good mouth feel, dark red fruit, and a camphor-like aftertaste. The tannins creep up in the finish, where some acidity comes out as dark fruit flavors fill the mouth. Still young but a pleasure to drink. Another taster noted the licorice and tar overtones along with higher acidity and found it a very nice wine to drink.

2007 Abeja, Syrah, Walla Walla
200-300 cases were made from fruit grown at 1310 feetat the cooler Mill Creek Vineyard. A light-plus nose of toasty oak. The tightly wound dark fruit rounded out and opened up with more air to take on a bluer tint. It had an expanding aftertaste. This one didn’t give up much but seemed, perhaps, to have potential. Others found this one tannic! On the second night it fell apart into a disjointed mess that we dumped.

2005 O’Shea Scarborough, The Immortal, Syrah, Columbia Valley
Less than 75 cases made of this inaugural vintage from Lewis Vineyard. A nose and palate of tart, red raspberry fruit, “sour patch” flavors and a very tart finish. This was rather polarizing and clearly the least favor wine of the night. One commented it was dark, tinny, and chalky. This held together better than the Abeja on the second night but was not enjoyable to drink and was dumped.

1999 Hogue, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon with varying amounts of Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc aged two years in oak barrels. The Cab comes from Wahluke Slope. A good medium nose screaming dusty Bordeaux. In the mouth there were round flavors, of dusty, gritty fruit perfumed with cinnamon spice. It thinned out a bit in the finish This is drinking really well right now.

2001 Thelema, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 20 months in French oak, half new. A mature nose of eucalyptus. This showed softer, looser-knit fruit withblack currant and dark berries spreading out into a soft, flowy finish.

1999 California, Washington, and Bordeaux wine dinner

February 5, 2009 1 comment

Our usual group gathered this past weekend for a tasting of 1999 wines from California, Bordeaux, and Washington. It was hosted at Lou and Adrienne’s house. They were joined by Dave, Deniz, Todd, Marissa, Adam, Jenn, and myself.

We started off with the 2002 Argyle Brut then moved on to the 2006 Peay Chardonnay before working our way through the red wines.

All wines were tasted blind. They were also decanted for sediment at 4:30pm. Lou threw in the 2000 Merlust Merlot ringer, purchased for 117 Rand. At the time he didn’t reveal anything about the ringer. The Canon La Gaffeliere was a group favorite followed by the Meerlust. The Meerlust is a best buy.

Here are the groups rankings:
Wine #1 – 35 points – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere
Wine #2 – 27 points – 2000 Meerlust Merlot
Wine #3 – 19 points – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Wine #4 – 14 points – 1999 Ch. Gracia
Wine #5 – 12 points – 1999 Ridge, Monte Bello

These three tight for 6th with 8 points each:
Wine #6 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet
Wine #6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion

2002 Argyle, Brut
Apples on the nose with mild fizz that feels like a slightly older bottle. Yeasty with medium length and perhaps a touch of cinnamon.

2006 Peay, Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Very light straw color and cloudy. A light nose of crisp, lemon zest and citrus. Slightly creamy in the mouth with some minerals. A nice wine that some found slightly detracting by some warmth and overtly toasted oak in the finish.

Flight #1
1 – 1999 Ch. Pavie-Macquin, St. Emillion
The nose on this wine disappeared rapidly leaving the fruit behind and impressions of oak, cedar, and some soy sauce. In the mouth there were lean blue/red fruits that got leaner towards the finish where a moderate amount of stout tannins took hold.

2 – 1999 Andrew Will, Merlot, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
There was initially some sulphur that blew off to reveal a strong nose of old-world smells: stink, barnyard, and some smokiness. In the mouth there were roundish red fruits that were underripe and overpowered by the tart acidity.

3 – 1999 Ch. Pontet Canet, Pauillac
A medium nose of high-toned, lifted smoke and tobacco. In the mouth the palate really follows the nose with cool blue fruits developing/expanding in the middle. Powerful, fine+ tannins come across in the finish. Almost austere compared to the Meerlust.

4 – 2000 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
A muted nose compared to the first three. In the mouth ripe red berries, dark olives, make way to very fine tannins that coat the front of the mouth. There is a fair amount of power and the tannins are quite nice. It gave the impression of needing more time but in the glass it faded with time and became more vegetal compared to the Canon La Gaffeliere.

Flight #2
5 – 1999 La Sirena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Volatile acidity on the nose followed by red cranberries. In the mouth there are soft red-liquor and raspberry flavors that make way to a weak somewhat stinky finish. Eh.

6 – 1999 Ch. La Tour Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan
Very light nose. There are cool blue fruits, cassis, pencil lead, and tobacco with a thread of minerals the last through the finish. A strong wine that some found hard to drink. When revisited the core of dark blue fruit was still growing but stayed simple in flavor, not getting more complex.

7 – 1999 Ridge Montebello
Chunky red/blue fruit on the nose. Big in the mouth with nice fruit, leaving impressions of power and reminding you with the assertive tannins. I preferred this over #6. When revisisted I found aromas of lipstick and flavors of dusty, herbs, and green fruit. A decent wine that probably will not get better.

8 – 1999 Cornerstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A strong almost singular nose of green pepper with some black pepper spiciness. This immediately turned off half of the group. In the mouth, good weight, not heavy but powerful green pepper flavors supported by watering acidity, and some sweetness/liquorice in the finish. Eh.

Flight #3
9 – 1999 Ch. Gracia, St. Emilion
A light+ earthy nose with good aromatics right away. Some found brett and cooked meat. Good weight to the fruit but there was some heat mixed in with the moderate tannins and toast. Revisited later it became more out of balance and developed a very light nose of candied popcorn.

10 – 1999 Andrew Will, Sorella
Red cherries on the nose with some finding too much green. In the mouth more red fruits with citrus like acidity, high-toned, sweet blue fruit with some dustiness. There was a good amount of fruit to this wine that some liked and other thought this was a liquid vegetable cart. Revisisted later it was fading and didn’t last long.

11 – 1999 Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere, St. Emilion
A light, delicate nose with chocolate, meat, and coffee. Lovely in the mouth with cool blue fruits in a undoubtedly rich and full bodied package, that develop into a dark fruit aftertase. Revisited later the wine was still developing with grainy fruit, darker flavors, and some spice coming out. Well done, some thought this must be the ringer and a 2000 Bordeaux.

12 – 1999 Behrens & Hitchcock, Cuvee Lola
Very severe volatile acidity with cherry flavors. Some, like myself, decided to try it and immediately launched it into the spitton. Synthetic cork I believe.

Flight #4 – Let’s drink some more!
1999 Clos du Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
Focused fresh, bright red berries but not to the purity of Charvin. More red berries in the mouth, this wine is slow to develop and puts on weight with air. Definitely stands out compared to the previous 12 wines. Nice, give it more time or more air.

1982 Ch. Potensac, Medoc
A medium nose of sweaty cedar and some sweetness. A bit sour in the mouth, slightly fading fruit, but the core flavors are there. There are still some unresolved tannins. Better than the 1982 Rouget and in no state of dropping off the cliff but it is best to drink up.

Enjoy!