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signal hill

Re(a)d all over

[glass]Signal Hill 2006 Rosé de Saignée Blanc de Noir (Constantia) – Sources differ on what this is made from. Some say petit verdot, while the usually definitive Platter’s Guide has it as shiraz with pinot noir and cabernet franc. But I’m going to go with the winery’s web site, which says it’s cab franc. If it was no good, it wouldn’t matter…but it is. Very flavorful, with dark strawberry and cherry, hints of blacker fruit, and a good layer of spice (but not of wood). Casts a significant shadow. Wavy and delicious. The winery claims aging potential, and I wouldn’t bet against it. (11/08)


[barrels]Signal Hill 2005 Syrah (Stellenbosch) – Very confident, with a grainy structure, solid leather, blackberry skins, and a welcome hint of bacon. Balanced, long, and promising, but there’s just a little something missing. Perhaps it’s that the wine’s initial swagger isn’t quite matched by its raw materials, which are a little more timid than the wine’s proud bearing seems to promise. (11/08)

Take a break

Signal Hill “La Siesta” 2005 Grenache Blanc (Western Cape) – When first conceived (not that long ago), this was the only grenache blanc in all of South Africa, though that may not be true any longer. I’ve ordered it because it’s “local” – the winery is, at least ostensibly, located in Cape Town – and it’s certainly an adventurous introduction to the local wine scene. Oxidative but complex…less Scholium Project or Gravner than Kalin…showing old apricot, brown soil, and an old-leaf, mulchy texture. Dry, white and peppery is how it finishes. Points for effort, and it’s quite drinkable (though a bit of a crank with food), but I think this could be a little better. (11/08)

New clothes

Signal Hill 2005 “Vin de l’Empereur” (Paarl) – Sweet muscat d’Alexandrie, and already very dark brown, with moderate floral notes and an exotic, botrytis-laden aroma. However, all the reward’s in the nose, because the hollow and rather light palate doesn’t follow through on any of the former’s promises. Good, but only just. (11/08)

MM MM good

Signal Hill 2000 “Old Vines” Cabernet Sauvignon “Antica MM” (Western Cape) – Strikingly raw, with zings and abraded cuts of acidity. This tastes like it’s actually made from true wild vines, with a feral sort of black-hearted, untamed fruit and exotic herbs and spices. There’s a bit of chalky-textured chocolate as well, with a bitter, twisted, yet not actually unpleasant finish of somewhat insufficient length. An utterly fascinating wine. I can’t decide if I like it or not. Worth special mention: the label, which is…well, it depicts what appears, at first glance, to be a man in affectionate congress with the hindquarters of a swine. Is that what it actually is? I have no idea, and I’m not sure I want to know. (4/08)