Wednesday, December 07, 2011

December 2011 Wines: 10 Tasted of 10

Sharp Shinned Hawk Browsing
My venture into South Africa grew larger than anticipated so I've organized the 'orphans' here in a separate entry.

THE LINEUP - grouped by reds, whites, rosés, sparkles and other:
  • Stalking Horse 'McLaren Vale'  Shiraz 2008*, 93-3  -- V,  McLaren Vale, Australia, #251215 $17.95  
  • [Veedha] Means Life Douro Red 2008, 89-2  -- V, Gaia, Portugal, #255851  $12.95 
  • Trio Reserva Merlot/Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 89-2  -- V, Santiago, Chile, #433920 $14.95 

  • Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Stratus Riesling 2009 VQA Vinemount Ridge, 92-1  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $35.20  
  • Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Stratus Riesling 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, 90  --  O, NOTL, Ontario, #Winery $35.20
  • Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 86  -- V,  Marlborough, NZ, #919514 $17.95
  • Bodega Francis Lurton Pinot Gris 2010, UCO Valley, 83  --  G,  Argentina, #556746 $11.95

  • Bellussi Belcanto Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore NV,  86  --  V,  Valdobbiadene, Italy, #053215 $17.95 
  • Domaine Allimant-Laugner Brut Crémant d’Alsace NV,  83 --  V, Orschwiller, France,  #030593 $17.95 
  • Katnook ‘Founder’s Block’ Sparkling Shiraz 2008, 82  --  V, Coonawara, Australia, #053330 $24.95

[VEEDHA] MEANS LIFE  DOURO RED 2008, Gaia, Portugal, 13.0% D, #255851  $12.95  (Tasted December 24, 2011)  CS

Produced by Sogevinus Fine Wine and a General listing. My notes: Suggested by @thegrapeguy, Michael Pinkus, in his column. Almost black in the glass with a smoky, earthy faint plum aroma and a lacy edged rim that refuses to fall - tilting shows columns of slow legs. Silky, full-bodied, a firm tannin with matching acids front concentrated black cherry flavours mellowed by process and ageing. The first sip declines slowly leaving a savoury red currant on the palate. A mellow and smooth sipper with a pleasing richness. Cellaring for another three years is doable, likely longer. 89

TRIO RESERVA MERLOT/CARMENÈRE/CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010,  Santiago, Chile, 14.0% XD, #433920  $14.95  (Tasted December 28, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on July 23, 2011. A blend of 70% Merlot, 15% Carmenère, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sustainable practices are followed My notes: The 2003 vintage tasted in March 2005, before ratings, was $13.95 and  had cellaring potential. The 2010 is a dense ruby with a purple cast and a spicy ripe chocolate-dipped, black cherry aroma, mild with a warming penetration. The film sticks to the glass until fragmenting into long legs and lacy islands from a coloured rim. A sip confirms full-bodied with a silky softness easily matched by a penetrating acid. Flavours of plum, black cherry, dark chocolate and tobacco slowly fade to an earthy currant with an oily touch to the lips. Entertaining as a sipper although the end could use a buffet selection. A flexible complement with grilled meats, a beefy stew or rack of lamb. Cellaring for several years is likely but drinking well now and may not improve significantly. 89

STALKING HORSE 'MCLAREN VALE'  SHIRAZ 2008, McLaren Vale, Australia, 15.0% XD, #251215  $17.95  (Tasted December 13, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on November 12, 2011 and rated 90 by Harvey Steinman (March 31, 2011).   My notes: The videos on their website has Bruce Glugston, Winemaker, showing each of their single vineyard wines this one being from McLaren Vale, the others from Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley. *Considerable amount of sediment - decant. This has a purple hued ruby color, is dense in the glass with a film that sticks forming a solid rim flowing columns of slow tears. There’s a mild pepper to aromas of bacon and berry aromas. Full, velvety from the first sip, with smoky bacon and blueberry flavours gives distinctiveness. The velvet and a touch of oil remain at the end of a long flavourful, dry finish. This should cellar several years gaining more character altho’ it's well developed now.  93  

CHARLES BAKER PICONE VINEYARD STRATUS RIESLING 2009 VQA Vinemount Ridge, NOTL, Ontario, 10.5% D, #Winery $35.20  (Tasted December 28, 2011) 

My notes: The 2008 vintage was tasted in October last year with a rating of 93 due to its ‘delectable aroma of tropical fruit’, the likelihood of developing refined petrol and the fullness of flavour balanced with acids. Chilled to 8oC this vintage has less tropical aroma still ’noseworthy’ with tang balancing a subtle sweetness. A luscious first sip with long slow legs forming from a solid rim eventually cascading as lacy islands, on the lighter side of full-bodied with a finish carrying apple, pear, lime and a slight petrol to a dry end. A ‘leave me alone to sip’ sipper this also paired nicely with grilled Atlantic salmon and a green beans w/mushroom side. Drinking well now but could possibly be a solid performer in a few years. 92

CHARLES BAKER IVAN VINEYARD STRATUS RIESLING 2010 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, NOTL, Ontario, 10.5% D, #Winery $35.20  (Tasted December 28, 2011) 

My notes: Ordered directly from the winery this new Riesling, made from grapes grown in the Ivan vineyard, sold out quickly.  The colour is a pale new gold, crystal clear in the glass with a delectable aroma of pear and sweet apple blossom. The film leaves a lacy rim that recedes evenly quickly forming lacy islands. At 10oC, my preferred sipping temp, there’s a change to sweet apple and almond in the nose - this follows to the flavours of the first sip. There’s a long finish ending with quieter citrus leaving the almond prominent still with a suspicion of natural sugar. Enigmatic to pair it was a mild complement to grilled Atlantic salmon and did not work with chicken Wellington with petit pois and risotto. I’ll save for sipping where character builds with each sip… or cellar year by year and watch for a peak.  A drink now. 90


BODEGA FRANCOIS LURTON PINOT GRIS 2010, UCO Valley, Argentina, 12.5%  D, #556746  $11.95  (Tasted December 2, 2011)  CS

A General listing. My notes: Recommended by Anthony Gismondi (@TheSpitter) in a Tweet (Nov 30)  “… a ridiculous value”.  As well, Jay Miller (Wine Advocate) stated “Francois Lurton’s newest releases are uniformly excellent” June 2011.  A pale lemon colour and a just perceptible pond scum aroma that airs quickly - not objectionable, not fruity/floral. Flavours of delicate kiwi with a melon tinge, a nice tang and texture, dry on a slow journey to a dry end. An acceptable sipper for a mixed buffet or paired with white fish fillets seared and roasted with mixed root vegetables. A drink now before the meagre fruit disappears. 83

WITHER HILLS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010, Marlborough, NZ, 13.0%  XD, #919514  $17.95  (Tasted December 4, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on November 12, 2011.  My notes: Vineyards are located in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough and Ben Glover is the winemaker.  A clean crisp blond colour with an aroma of partly ripe gooseberries has a conservative initial appeal. A thin film with a evenly receding lacy rim says it’s a lightish medium body sipper. A tang that grabs the palate in the same way as walking a bush row and crushing a few herbaceous gooseberries impromptu gains the palate’s prompt attention. A sipper if you enjoy some acid with your conversation, otherwise, a complement to crustaceans or their finny cousins - went well with Clarkson Fish & Chips. Cellaring a year could maintain current appeal.  86

DOMAINE ALLIMANT-LAUGNER BRUT CRÉMANT D'ALSACE NV, Orschwiller, France, 12.5% XD, 030593  $17.95  (Tasted December 1, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 15, 2011. Scored 1 star out of 3 by Guide Hachette's rating system (2010). A blend of  80% Auxerrois and 20% Riesling.  My notes: I'm curious to know how a 1 star is rated when tasted here.  There’s a burst of varying size bubbles on pouring that settles to large then steady streams of fine - no mousse. A pale straw colour with a light yeasty aroma and soft texture from the first sip. A moderate lemon tang and hint of apple pie builds interest then quickly ends with a soft mineral dryness. The initial sip is followed by a bland finish - quaffing helps maintain interest. Have with salty hors d‘oeuvres. A well made, straightforward style to be served well chilled.  83 

BELLUSSI BELCANTO EXTRA DRY PROSECCO DI VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE NV, Valdobbiadene, Italy, 11.5%  XD, #053215  $17.95  (Tasted December 25, 2011)  CS

A Vintages Release on November 26, 2011.  My notes: Tasted a year ago on December 31, 2010 and rated 88. Vintages has retained the same notes as the 2010 Release. Except for the price, a loonie higher, there’s likely consistency from this producer. There’s a floral aspect to a fresh apple aroma as a profusion of bubbles, mostly fine, bursts on the initial pour and forms a light mousse at the rim. A pale blond with a spritz that blends nicely with a biting acid and sweet apple flavours, milder than previous, that decline slowly to a bone dry fruit. Served with a mixed Mandarin Gardens selection this cut the sugary sauces and paired with a combination of beef slices, shrimp and chicken balls. A refreshing drink now. 86

KATNOOK ‘FOUNDER'S BLOCK’ SPARKLING SHIRAZ 2008, Coonawara, Australia, 12.5% D, #053330  $24.95  (Tasted December 18, 2011)  CS.

A Vintages release on November 27, 2010.  My notes: The 2008 is five dollars more than the 2004 tasted in September 2010 - that’s our monopoly’s approach to saving Ontarians from overindulging. The 2004 was released by Vintages and tasted December 8, 2007 (89). The vintage maintained high ratings when retasted October 21 2008 (89), March 25 2010 (88) and September 25, 2010 (87).  Last December 9th the 2008 was ‘lip smacking luscious’ , rated 88 and became a family favourite. Tasted today, December 18th there is the same deep ruby colour and faint blackberry aromas with a steely coolness. Fine bubbles burst on pouring relaxing to a stream settling at the rim. A strong tartness accompanied by a light bitterness meets the palate, negligible fresh fruit but an abrupt dryness continuing to a metallic end - chalky tannins predominate. Pairing with a raisin and brown sugared ham steak wasn’t satisfactory  Perhaps pairing with bacon stacked on a bun or maple coated waffles and sausage. Lacks distinct varietal character and past peak.  82

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December 2011 South African Reds: 12 Tasted of 12

Several events converged to bring South African wines into focus for this month‘s tasting selection.  Beppi Crosariol’s column of November 22, 2011 reviewed two South African wines, Thelema Mountain Red wine and KWV Chenin Blanc. By happenchance I had rated Thelema Shiraz 2006 (#146431  $19.95) 92-2 just last month - will the lower price point red show value?
Also, I follow Sarah Ahmed (@Sarahwine) on Twitter. Over a few weeks in November Sarah was touring South African wineries as part of her business and several tweets referred to wineries, to tastings, trade personalities and wines.
Sarah also blogs as THEWINEDETECTIVE  with focus on Australia, the Loire, Portugal and South Africa. One tweet in particular referred to a video of a Swartland event. It illustrates the revitalized spirit of South Africa‘s wine industry. You may find it, The Swartland Revolution 2011 embedded below, and a map of the Winery Regions of the Western Cape interesting: 
In past years many South African wines had an objectionable (to me) bandaid aspect peculiar to the Pinotage reds, in a way, similar to Niagara's Foch. It's past time to satisfy my curiosity concerning current SA wine styles and any focus there may be on terroir and a move to traditional grape varieties.  There's a few labels on the General shelves and some Vintages offerings. Drawing conclusions from those selected may be limited. 

Twenty-three South African wines selected - 12 reds, 10 whites and a late harvest - are included in THE LINEUPs for Reds and Whites+ .

For wines from wineries using Sustainable viticulture look the for the SWSA label. For conclusions click on The Taste of South Africa.  

Salut, Ww


  • Post House Cellar Blueish Black 2009,  94-3  --  G,  Raithby, South Africa, #226639 $13.75 (now $14.30)
  • The Winery of Good Hope Black Rock Red 2007, 90-2 --  V, Somerset West, South Africa,  #068502 $18.95
  • Thelema Mountain Red 2007, 89-2  -- G,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #222570 $11.95 
  • Lightning over the Cape 1
    Porcupine Ridge Syrah/Viognier 2010, 89-2  -- V,  Coastal Region, South Africa, #079442  $16.95
  • Post House Penny Black 2008, 89-1  --  V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #148619  $19.95 
  • Durbanville Hills Shiraz 2009, 86-1  -- G,  Durbanville, South Africa, #022269 $11.95 
  • Boschendal 1685 Shiraz 2009,  84 --  V, Stellenbosch, South Africa,  #096511 $18.95  (now $19.95)   
  • Flat Roof Manor Merlot 2009, 83  -- G, Stellenbosch, South Africa, #129874 $10.95
  • Obikwa Shiraz 2010,  82  --  G, Western Cape, South Africa, #527499 $8.95
  • Sonop Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, 82  -- V,  Western Cape, South Africa, #606160  $13.95
  • Goats Do Roam ‘The Goatfather’ 2009, 82  --  V,  Paarl, South Africa, #011072  $14.95
  • Slent Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010, 81  -- G,  Paarl, South Africa, #226688 $9.95     

(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VOL - Vintages OnLine,  r-v - Rating-Value)


PORCUPINE RIDGE SYRAH/VIOGNIER 2010, Coastal Region, South Africa, 14.0%  XD, #079442   $16.95  (Tasted December 5, 2011)  CS
 A Vintages release on October 29, 2011 and produced by Boekenhoutskloof My notes:  A blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. Purple tinged in the glass with subtle aromas of spice, blackberry and faint floral. A swirl laces the rim forming columns of slow tears and leaves islands behind.  There’s a softness before a warm layer of spice and tannin sets in. A raspberry touch to the smoky blackberry provides a polite, medium-bodied sipper ending dry and flavourful. A sociable sipper - a suitable pairing for a seasoned grilled meat dish. I’m planning a supper of beer-brined pork chop grilled on the bbq with Maple syrup glazed baby turnips and a  skinned red pepper and onion sauce  - parts from three recipes PS. turned out to be a nice match!. Young now with undeveloped depth so cellaring for several years should do well.  89

SONOP CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, Western Cape, South Africa, 12.5%  XD, #606160   $13.95  (Tasted December 19, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on November 12, 2011 and produced by African Terroir Ltd. An organic and a fair trade wine.  My notes:  A slight purple gives authenticity while the nose adds faintly to the grape. A swirl leaves a thin film with a solid rim slowly giving up slow tears. Airing for an hour lessens a dullness to light red currant flavours. On the light side of medium-bodied with noticeable tannins and mild acid with flavours that fade quickly ending extra dry. More of a grilled meat or pizza red than a sipper - a drink now. A shallow profile better quaffed with food.  82

FLAT ROOF MANOR MERLOT 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.0%  D, #129874  $10.95  (Tasted December 5, 2011)  CS

A General listing and produced by Distillers Corporation Limited. My notes: A ruby red with a mild aroma of berries and spicy herbs. Columns of tears run slowly from a gentle swirl and the first sip has a tangy red currant and raspberry flavour with a penetrating acid - flavour drops halfway while a dry warm woody stang (combined sting and tang) takes over the palate. An OK sipper if you prefer the prominent tartness - better if left open overnight. My preference is paired with grilled beef… prime rib or T-bone, even a beef stew. A drink now. 83

THELEMA MOUNTAIN RED 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.5% D, #222570  $11.95  (Tasted December 2, 2011)  CS

A General listing. Rated 89 by Beppi in his column.  My notes: The vineyards are located on the slopes of Simonsberg mountain above Stellenbosch at Helshoogle.  A blend of Shiraz and Merlot having a deep ruby colour and stinging blackberry aromas. A swirl leaves a firm film, a solid rim quickly shedding  fast columns. Spicy, sharp, hot and strong ripe fruit flavours cleanse the palate preparing it for grilled red meats: T-bone steak, bbq’d ribs or beef tenderloin with Henry Bain sauce . Cellared four - four more may mellow some of the roughness. 89

SLENT CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT 2010, Paarl, South Africa, 14.0%  D, #226688  $9.95  (Tasted December 6, 2011)  CS

A General listing.  My notes:A ruby colour with raspberry/blueberry aromas and a thin, lacy rimmed film shedding slow tears are first impressions. Drying tannins balancing tart acids almost mask fresh berry flavours which quickly fade to a dry woody aftertaste, medium-bodied. Decanting and airing for an hour does little to mellow an aggressive sipper - try overnight. Better paired with a grilled steak or Texas chili - OK with bbq’d hamburger with the works. Cellaring is likely to fade fruit leaving a more dominant acid/tannin presence. A drink now.  81

DURBANVILLE HILLS SHIRAZ 2009, Durbanville, South Africa, 14.0%  D, #022269  $11.95  (Tasted December 21, 2011)  CS
A General listing and produced by Durbanville Hills.  My notes:There’s a purple tint to the deep ruby, deep and clear in the glass. Scant aromas of salty blueberry and tobacco, faint but distinct. The rim gradually recedes as lacy islands flowing a few fast legs and the first sip is velvety smooth, has a penetrating tang and flavours of red currant and black olive fading quickly leaving some salt, a light tannin and a touch of fruit.  Priced for quaffing or generous servings with Reuben sandwiches or Montreal smoked meat on rye. Try cellaring a year or two but drinking well now.  86

POST HOUSE CELLAR BLUEISH BLACK 2009, Raithby, South Africa, 14.5% D, #226639  $13.75 (now $14.30)  (Tasted December 9, 2011)  CS
A General listing. My notes:  The PostHouse cellar is located at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains between Stellenbosch and Somerset West.  Blackish ruby is my descriptor for the colour and the nose is a low key blueberry edged with tar and brightened by a peppery tang.  A blend of 32% Shiraz, 32% Pinotage, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot - any sweetness is well hidden. The rim is immediately edged with lace then slowly drops columns of tears. The first sip is full-bodied and well balanced with moderate flavours of currant and blueberry. Silk starts a long finish warming everything it touches then fading gradually. A fireside sipper to accompany an intriguing mystery story or pair with Beef Wellington, prime rib sliced red and thin or a crown of minted lamb. Cellar for several years but drinking well now.   94


A Gift Box for the season consisting of an Obikwa headband and two General listed wines.  Tasting notes for the Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc is in the Whites+ blog.

OBIKWA SHIRAZ 2010, Western Cape, South Africa, 13.5% D, #527499  $8.95  (Tasted December 21, 2011)  CS
My notes:  A deep ruby colour and a rim that laces and recedes quickly. The nose has a mild peppery aroma of berries, blue- and rasp-.  Half way to silky smooth with a nice bite and noticeable tannins, balanced with the same berry blend. A satisfying sipper for a congenial crowd although finishing dry in the mouth and looking for nibbles - better to pair with grilled beef, bacon, or a tomato pasta with chorizo sausage. Fairly shallow as if from young vines or blended with a lighter red such as sangiovese. A drink now.  82

POST HOUSE PENNY BLACK 2008,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, 15.0% XD, #148619   $19.95  (Tasted December 9, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on October 1, 2011.  Rated 91 by James Molesworth  (June 15, 2011).  A blend of Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Chenin Blanc made with minimal handling: natural yeasts, no filtration and minimal fining.   My notes: A blend of Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot with a spicy fresh currant/berry aroma and a graphite hued ruby red colour. First there’s heat then intense, tart flavours of blueberry, red currant and liquorice. Tannin and acid are balanced with the fruit with no sense of sweetness leaving the entire mouth chalk dry. The finish retains the warmth, is moderately flavoured, short, ending as an extra dry sipper with some bramble.  Have with grilled meats and full flavoured stews. Cellaring may introduce some softness - a drink now.  89

GOATS DO ROAM ‘THE GOATFATHER’ 2009, Paarl, South Africa, 14.5% XD, #011072   $14.95  (Tasted December 14, 2011)  CS
Released by Vintages on October 1, 2011.  My notes: A Fairview Wines blend of Sangiovese, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. A clear ruby in the glass with aromas of black cherries and red currants, bright to the nose. There’s a light film that leaves a solid rim shedding moderately fast tears. The first sip is medium-bodied, has an appealing softness with drying tannins, warmth and faint berry flavours. The finish is moderate ending dry and woody. Have with grilled meats, hamburgers or pizzas. Not for cellaring - a straightforward commercial drink-now likely to satisfy a general crowd.  82

BOSCHENDAL 1685 SHIRAZ 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa,  14.0% D, #096511  $18.95 (now $19.95)  (Tasted December 27, 2011)  CS

The Boschendal 1685 Shiraz was released by Vintages on October 15, 2011. My notes: A touch of purple gives this ruby expectations. The nose needs time to develop, initially a soft spicy plum followed with a touch of berry. A swirl leaves a firm film with a solid rim eventually shedding slow tears. The first sip is full in the mouth with an instant sting settling to a penetrating warmth, balanced tannins with mild fruit, a woody berry flavour. The finish ends quickly with lighter everything. A short front end and middle making this an interesting sipper. Cellaring a few more years could develop a broader character - worth a try.  Have with a ham steak or roast turkey with lingonberry sauce or a T-bone mildly seasoned with sweet potato fries.   84

THE WINERY OF GOOD HOPE BLACK ROCK RED 2007, Somerset West, South Africa, 14.5% XD, #068502   $18.95  (Tasted December 31, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on April 2, 2011.   My notes: What is shown on their website is 'Radford Dale' Black Rock a blend of 71% Shirax, 13% Carignan, 12% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier.An opaque graphite toned ruby with aromas of black cherries, red currant, chocolate mint and a slight BRETT - aerate or decant an hour before. A swirl leaves a thick film with a solid rim flowing long slow legs. An interesting set of flavours comes with the first sip: black cherry, cedar, tobacco. Fine tannins balanced with mild acid  coat the palate going into a long extra dry finish that ends chalk dry. Smooth with interesting changes from start to finish gives appeal as a sipper if you like earthy reds. Better with savoury meats. This should cellar well for a few more years but is drinking near peak. 90

December 2011 South African Whites+: 9 Tasted of 9

The Intro to December 2011 South African Wines is in the South African Reds blog.

Salut, Ww

THE LINEUP - grouped by whites, rosés, sparkles and other:

Lightning over the Cape 2
  • Lammershoek Roulette Blanc 2008, 90-2  -- V,  Swartland, South Africa, #225458 $16.95
  • Graham Beck Bowed Head Chenin Blanc 2009, 90-2 --  V, Franschhoek, South Africa, #231357  $17.95 
  • Iona Chardonnay 2009,  90-1  --  V,  Elgin, South Africa,  #236026 $24.95 
  • Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2009,  88-1  -- V,  Somerset West,  South Africa, #739995 $14.95
  • Elgin Valley Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010,  87-1  --  V,  Elgin, South Africa, #207167 $14.95 
  • Mulderbosch Chardonnay 2009, 87  --  V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa,  #717090 $17.55 
  • Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 82  --  G, Western Cape, South Africa, #527465 $8.95 
  • Ken Forrester Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2009, 81  -- V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #231282 $17.95 

  • Fleur du Cape Noble Late Harvest 2008, 93-1  --  V,  Stellenbosch, South Africa, #173781 (375 mL)  $20.95 
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages,  r-v - Rating-Value)

VINUM AFRICA CHENIN BLANC 2009,  Somerset West, South Africa, 13.5% XD, #739995  $14.95  (Tasted December 16, 2011)  CS

Jamie Drummond and Alex Dale, Winemaker and Founder of the Winery of Good Hope, discuss the revival of Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir in South Africa.

Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2009, produced by The Winery of Good Hope, was released by Vintages on November 12, 2011.  My notes:  A light golden with herbaceous aromatics, some citrus, some fresh vegetable, well blended - a few minutes allows nose to develop a floral taint. A lacy rim with several slow legs and a first sip that is dry, lightly salted with a flavour of crushed lemon seed, on the medium side of full-bodied. A light cream with a finish that is long, warm, lemon lined kiwi adds appeal - an interesting sipper and a flexible fish white. Have with grilled tilapia or haddock with an orange sauce and basmati rice. Drink now or cellar a year or two - longer may have a surprise. 88

LAMMERSHOEK ROULETTE BLANC 2008, Swartland, South Africa, 14.5%  XD, #225458  $16.95  (Tasted December 15, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on April 2, 2011.  My notes: A blend of 48% Chenin Blanc, 41% Chardonnay and 11% Viognier. This has a rich new gold colour and shows mid viscosity as the film sticks to the sides forms a lacy rim then drops several slow tears. The nose has a herbaceous tang to aromas of ripe tropical fruit. Ripe pineapple and lime make up most of the flavour leaving a distinct sharpness making this is a wine for seafoods or white fowl. A soft cream fills out the body adding elegance while carrying the flavours to a lengthy end. Cellaring for several years should be doable - longer may bring more grassiness forward. Drinking wonderfully now with a distinct terroir brought by sustainable and organic vine maintenance. 90

KEN FORRESTER STELLENBOSCH CHENIN BLANC 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 14.0%  XD, #231282  $17.95  (Tasted December 6, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on May 28, 2011.   My notes: Sustainable farming without pesticides nor herbicides.  A mid golden light and crisp with floral, light honey and lanolin aromas. The film runs a lacy rim slowly falling to the meniscus. The first sip starts with a light honey quickly shifting to sour lemon, herbaceous and extra dry leaving the palate parched, warm and a mineral tainted aftertaste. If sucking on a lemon is your thing this is a sipper. I prefer pairing with roast chicken, a grilled trout filet or perhaps with fresh oysters. May have passed a fruity peak and now has an acidic herbal profile. Drink soon.  81

ELGIN VALLEY VINEYARDS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2010,  Elgin, South Africa, 13.0% XD, #207167  $14.95  (Tasted December 19, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on August 20, 2011.  My notes:  A pale blond with prominent floral gooseberry aromas - pleasing to the senses. A swirl leaves a thin film with a solid rim and columns of long slow tears.  The first sip is silky, quite tangy and accompanied by fresh flavours of ripe gooseberry staying on the tongue a short while fading to lemongrass then a chalky dryness. Just a tad light, body and tang, when paired with lemon linguine and shrimp/scallops but should go well with grilled halibut or cod and chips. Keeping a few for a year should be OK - longer is iffy.  87


A Gift Box for the season consisting of an Obikwa headband and two General listed wines. Tasting notes for the Obikwa Shiraz is in the Reds blog:

OBIKWA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011, Western Cape, South Africa, 12.0% D, #527465  $8.95  (Tasted December 5, 2011)  CS

My notes:   A light golden with a greenish tint and possibly a lime nose. The film sticks to the glass before forming slow tears from a lacy edged rim. A slight tang, a subtle softness, flavours of lemon and lime going into a long finish ending dry on the tongue. A reasonable Sauvignon Blanc lacking a clear terroir, a NZ gooseberry or a Bordeaux svelte texture. Save for an open bar - an economical alternative to [yellow tail]. Could be matched with veal schnitzel and spaetzle. A drink now.  82

MULDERBOSCH CHARDONNAY 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 13.0% XD, #717090  $17.55  (Tasted December 11, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on May 14, 2011.  My notes: I tried the Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (#933424, $18.95) released on July 18 2007 - this is the first time I’ve noticed the chardonnay being available. The colour is a mid new gold and has aromas of tart papaya with a warmed butter taint. The film sticks then falls slowly following a lacy edge and the first taste has a bright attack and grassy citrus flavours with a warm follow through. The finish is moderately long and extra dry. Paired nicely with fennel, leek and potato soup with poached eggs. Well made showing some oak treatment - an ‘acquired’ taste as a sipper. Have with grilled fish entrees or dark fowl; turkey legs or duck. A few years cellaring may smooth some rough edges.  87   

IONA ‘ELGIN’ CHARDONNAY 2009,  Elgin, South Africa, 13.5% XD, #236026 $24.95  (Tasted December 4, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on October 15, 2011.  Aged “discreetly in French oak”.   My notes: A light golden colour - a jagged rim shedding small slow tears while quickly receding - a nose that defies distinct aromas - an initial sip that’s pleasingly tart, a slight fullness with spicy flavours of grapefruit and lime - each adding elegance. Serving well chilled, 10 - 12oC, allows some changes to occur increasing sip-ability. The combination of body, acid and light oil overcomes any lacking and can’t be anything but Chardonnay - a long unwavering finish that ends extra dry. Have with grilled halibut/haddock on a bed of ginger basmati or Yukon Gold risotto. Cellaring for several years should be OK - a drink now leaving you wanting the next sip.  90
GRAHAM BECK BOWED HEAD CHENIN BLANC 2009, Franschhoek, South Africa, 14.0% XD, #231357   $17.95  (Tasted December 26, 2011)  CS

Released by Vintages on May 28, 2011.  My notes: A pale golden, crisp and clear, and leaves a lacy rim flowing long slow legs. The nose has a spicy, herbal, burnt butter aroma with strong initial appeal. Not a timid Chenin Blanc being full-bodied, tangy, with some softness then finishing long, extra dry with a grassy, caramel tainted grapefruit apple flavour. Paired nicely with leftover Chinese food of chicken balls with sweet & sour sauce, shrimp, beef, brown rice and bean sprouts, and is a flexible complement to a broad set of seafood or white fowl recipes. Approaching peak and could cellar several years - drinking well now. 90
FLEUR DU CAP NOBLE LATE HARVEST 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 10.0% S, #173781 375 mL  $20.95  (Tasted December 9, 2011)  CS

A Vintages release on October 1, 2011. Rated 5 (of 5) by Angela Lloyd (Platter’s South African Wine Guide) 2010.  My notes:A blend of 58% Semillon and 42% Riesling. A deep amber colour showing a viscous meniscus and leading to a dense first sip; sweet, round and silky in the mouth with a subtle tang. Served chilled this was 10oC refreshingly tart moderately full of sultanas on the nose. A delightful aftertaste of stewed apricots and figs left behind lasted several minutes delaying a rushed second sip. Sip and savour is key with this LH. Have as a dessert option or as an afternoon aperitif with a challenging bridge hand. Cellaring for several years is likely but is smooth and mellow as a drink now.  93