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

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