Browse Tag

south africa

Bou…what he said

Boekenhoutskloof 2009 Semillon (Franschhoek) – The nervy, Van der Graaf generator electricity of this wine…green, lurid, and always snappish – is layered with a coating of something sticky and even buttery. Wood? An awkward malolactic fermentation? Bad bottle? Whatever the source, I hate it. Not the wine, overall, but this unwelcome new development. (8/11)

The Forrester for the treeser

Ken Forrester “Petit” 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sunfruit, sweet white peach, smooth-textured and round. Such a pretty little wine, ideal for crowds (especially crowds on a budget). (7/11)

Right cross

Southern Right 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Walker Bay) – A little bit aged, just to see what happens. More age might be helpful, but 3+ years (it’s a southern hemisphere wine, after all) are not indicated as peak maturity here, based on this bottle’s performance. It’s still sauvignon blanc, and in fact it’s a little more European in style than the bite and snarl of its more youthful past, but there’s no corollary development of tertiary aromas. I have more, so we’ll see what actual aging brings. I suspect, though, that as with most South African wines of either color, development-rich aging is not in the cards. (6/11)

Southern Right 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Walker Bay) – An experiment in aging, and I think I can pretty confidently identify the failure of the experiment. It tastes like too-old sauvignon blanc, quickly overwhelmed by pyrazines and acrid sweat, leaving grating acidity in the wake of its rapidly-retreating fruit. I thought there was a chance that some of the underlying verve would amount to something in a few years, but if there are sauvignon blancs worth aging in South Africa (and there might be), this isn’t one of them. (9/11)

From wrong

Southern Right 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Walker Bay) – Fading. I think that’s what’s happening, rather than closure, because along with the watered-down aromatics and thinner palate there’s also a diminution of body, which would usually be more persistent were the wine in a holding or development pattern. What’s left is some basic varietal character, pea-green and snappy, with fair acidity and some lingering minerality. But this has fallen quite a long way in one short year, and the future doesn’t seem promising. (4/11)


Southern Right 2006 Pinotage (Walker Bay) – After a little age, the shiny plastic edge to the tannin (sometimes identified as rubber, which I can also see) is a little more prominent, spine-ing from the structure like a really gruesome injury. The rest, though, is progressing into a darker, angrier fruit stage that’s kinda interesting. I don’t know if this is made for the long haul or not, but I’m determined to find out. I don’t think it will convince dedicated pinotage haters, but it’s no more disjointed than many perfectly acceptable nebbiolos, for example. (12/10)

Shameless Husseys

Buitenverwachting 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Husseys Vlei” (Constantia) – Wow, is this good. The most interesting sauvignon blanc I’ve had this year that wasn’t made by Vatan. Crisp, intense, poised and nervous, with a brittle streak of steely minerality and vast textural impact…that texture being one riddled with nails, shards, spikes, and edges. (11/10)

Cloven kloof

Boekenhoutskloof 2006 Semillon (Franschhoek) – As with so many other Boekenhoutskloof wines, the liquid is a micro-proportion of a ridiculously heavy bottle. I suppose they need this much glass to carry the weight of all those letters. One of the better…perhaps even one of the best…whites in South Africa, definitely so if we exclude chenin blancs…and so, in the steenless category, only the Sadie Palladius is obviously better. Anyway: absolutely varietally correct aromas of sweat, fetid grass, diffident unfruit, and something that might be pepper dust were it comprised of antimatter. Yes, this constitutes praise…look, you either get young sémillon or you don’t. This isn’t, it must be said, as unpleasant as the best Hunter Valley semillons. It can be consumed with pleasure right now, thanks to the mitigating structure of crisp grapefruit rind and lemongrass with a dull razor scrape, plus a very lengthy finish. But if the bottle doesn’t collapse inward due to its internal gravity, I suspect there’s ageability here. Or maybe not based on the usual transience of South African clonal material. But I’m hopeful. I am not a detractor of South African wine even though I think there’s a lot of dreck, because I don’t blame the wine industry for a lot of the reasons the wines they make aren’t what they could be, but here’s one that really deserves some attention. (10/10)

You dirty Raats

Raats Family 2009 “Original” Chenin Blanc (Coastal Region) – This is the unwooded cuvée, and tastes just as I remember from the source: very, very dense, almost syrupy, yet retaining just…just…enough acid for a sort of leaden balance. Stone fruit and pretty flowers, with a bronzed quality. Very fresh, but the opposite of lively. (8/10)

Forrester for the treeser

Ken Forrester “Petit” 2009 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sunny stone fruit with something perfumed – lavender? no, not that strong – and, as usual, delicious, though there’s a faintly syrupy hint starting to develop. This was never intended to be an ager, anyway. (8/10)