Browse Tag

south africa

Sea you later

[bouchard finlayson]Bouchard Finlayson 2013 “Blanc de Mer” (Cape South Coast) — Fresh fruit (mostly peaches), fresh sunlight (mostly hazy), just a touch boozier than it wants to be. Party wine. (5/16)

Diemed worthy

[diemersfontein]Diemersfontein “Reserve Collection” 2014 Pinotage (Wellington) — Not too much vinyl; more of an internationally-styled dark red, though the occasional peppery pinotage pong does come through. It’s a nice enough wine, though it needs flesh that’s been atop fire. (4/16)

Peter’s wine

Boekenhoutskloof “The Wolftrap” 2007 Syrah Mouvèrdre Viognier (Franschhoek) – This is a wine that often teeters on the edge of respectability for me, but in this vintage it’s on the right side of it. Barely. Incredibly dense, dark, very nearly syrupy fruit, but there’s just enough (dim) light and lift to keep it from being leaden. The floral element is very strong, and while it’s tempting to credit the viognier in the blend, I just don’t see that there’s enough to provide all of it. Maybe the mourvèdre helps. Who knows? For those who like unreconstructed big-ass hootie wines, this is a good low(ish)-cost candidate. (7/12)

Secateurs, Georgia

Badenhorst “Secateurs” 2010 Red (Coastal Region) – Thudding fruit with bitter vinyl that I cannot believe isn’t pinotage-derived (it isn’t: the wine’s blended from cabernet sauvignon, carignan, cinsault, and grenache). Maybe it’s the cinsault…which is, after all, one of pinotage’s absentee parents. A chore to drink. (6/12)

Putting the baden before the horst

Badenhorst “Secateurs” 2011 Chenin Blanc (Swartland) – 13.5%. Hybrid Rainier cherry and quinine with a bit of hay, atop a bed of gravel. The finish is a little scrape-y, and there’s very little acidity. Short. Kinda eh. (7/12)


Ken Forrester 2010 Chenin Blanc “Reserve” (Stellenbosch) – Burnished lemon, nectarine, peach, and even a bit of ripe papaya. This is the goofy fruitiness for which South African chenin is both praised and derided. But hold up. There’s wax and minerality, there’s good acidity, and I have precedent to assure the doubtful that, with some age, this turns into the waxed honeysuckle, pollen, and quinine that chenin shows at its best. No, I don’t think it will age like Vouvray, or Montlouis, or even a quarter as long as the better examples of either. But the easy appeal of the fruit hides a much more interesting wine, and in contrast to the grape’s banks-of-the-Loire profundity, this will reach its more mature realms much, much more quickly. (5/12)

Hout 2

Boekenhoutskloof 2006 Semillon (Franschhoek) – I’d guess that this has rounded into full form, but who really knows? Semillon can surprise. In any case it’s my last bottle, so I probably won’t get to find out. Wax, amber, leaf, and sun, with a bit of sage-like bite and a decent bit of acidity that’s not really apparent until the finish, and even then only after a few hours of air. Pretty impressive. (1/12)

Arboreal Ken

Ken Forrester 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Of all the chenins I tasted in South Africa (and I tasted a lot), this was the most exciting. Not in this exact form or vintage, but in the form of an older bottle pulled as an apology for their being out of the sought-after botrytized version from this same winery. The excitement came because in a few short years the wine had veered sharply in a Loire-ward direction, developing wax, quinine, and chalk notes that I hadn’t seen in anyone else’s chenins. Now, to be fair, I didn’t taste many more with any age whatsoever, but as the two dominant methods of chenin blanc production in the country are fresh-’n’-fruity-’n’-cheap or “seriously” oaked (a terrible idea, I might add, though Ken Forrester’s “FMC” version is the least offensive of the offensive lot), I certainly don’t expect to see it very often. That said, after I tasted and liked the aged version, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to its younger form.

So here it is, and I’ve encountered it a lot since that visit to Stellenbosch. I wouldn’t say it’s clear that there’s a bright and complex future for the wine from its initial notions, but one can at least see how that future develops. There’s a restraint and subtlety to the wine not often found in the area’s chenin blancs (or white wines in general), a fine structure, and – I think this is where the key difference lies – a gravelly texture to the wine that I think heralds the organoleptic minerality to come. It’s very appealing in its youth, but I think youthful guzzling is what the same winery’s “Petit” bottling is for. Put this one away for a while. I think you won’t regret it, if past performance is any indicator. (8/11)

Schhoek to the system

Boekenhoutskloof 2006 Semillon (Franschhoek) – Still clinging to the sweat and leaf stage of the grape, but there’s also a creamy, almost lactic element in development. The result is something more weirdly acrid and aggressive – though this has never been a shy wine – than at any previous stage, and since I don’t really have hope that this will age like, say, Hunter Valley or Bordeaux semillon, I’d probably drink any remaining bottles soonish. (8/11)