Gems in My Glass . . . March 2014

1:47 pm Gems in MY Glass . . ., Tasting Notes

A taste of South Africa

I recently had the opportunity to spend a short time in two wine regions near Cape Town, South Africa.  It was a thoroughly delightful visit.  Here I found deep history, fascinating culture and people, distinctive terroir, picturesque wineries and palate pleasing wines, including:

Waterford Estate 2013 Pecan Stream Chenin Blanc; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  This delightful and refreshing Chenin Blanc is blended with 8% Viognier.  The wine is fruit focused with aromas and flavors of fresh red apples, creamy pears, ripe apricots and a splash of citrus.  Lively acidity holds through the vibrant finish.     SRP: ~$11

Waterford Estate 2011 Pecan Stream Pebble Hill; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  A succulent blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre, Grenache, Sangiovese and Merlot, this wine opens with inviting cinnamon and nutmeg spice aromas.  Round and lush with tasty flavors of spice-accented blackberries, red currant and loganberries swirling deliciously on the palate. Finishes clean with a nice lift.  SRP: ~$13

Waterford Estate 2010 Kevin Arnold Shiraz; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  Winemaker/Cellarmaster Kevin Arnold crafted an immensely gratifying wine that clearly shouts out Shiraz. It is nicely developed and full bodied with a satin smooth texture. Elegant and pure, it showcases blackberries, blueberries and savory spice that permeate from start to lip-smacking finish.   SRP:  ~$28

Waterford Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  Earthy aromas greet the nose with this powerfully built Cab Sauv.  Wild berries, cassis and tart cherries meld with earthy, mineral notes all framed by a firm backbone of tannins.   The wine remains focused throughout with nice depth and structure, and the finish lingers with persistence. SRP: ~$27

Waterford Estate NV Reserve Heatherleigh; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  This delectable sweet wine is crafted of 70% Muscat  blended with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.  Inviting floral aromas make way for layers of honey, baked apples, apricots, caramel and mandarin orange highlights on the palate.  The balance is joyful with racy acidity playing off the sweet fruit and honey at the core.  SRP ~$20. (375ml)

Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  The essence of grapefruit and pretty herb accents blast from the glass with this sassy Sauv Blanc.   Steely minerality threads its way through a cornucopia of lemon-lime, white grapefruit, clementine and hints of fresh cut herbs on the palate.   A broad brush of lime zest pops on the finish, well balanced and refreshing.   SRP:  ~$17.50

Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2011 Shiraz; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  Aged in 40% new French oak (the balance 2 and 3 year French oak), here is a deep, dark, dazzling Shiraz.  Carrying its 15% alcohol well, it is powerful yet agile on the palate.  The dense concentration of blackberry, black plum and cassis liqueur is accented by an ample dash of pepper and allspice.  Lovely oak notes and velvety tannins complete the delicious package.   SRP:  ~$33.95

Sutherland Vineyards 2012 Riesling; Elgin Valley, South Africa:  Mouthwatering citrus and floral aromas are ever so enticing.  This racy, mineral laden Riesling offers up fresh white peach and savory spice flavors alongside edgy acidity, fully enlivening the palate.   Sleek and vibrant through the lingering finish.  Crafted by Owner/Cellarmaster Gyles Webb; Sutherland wines are bottled at Thelema’s Stellenbosch estate, from grapevines planted in the coastal Elgin region; a second label for the Webb family.  SRP:  ~$15.

Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2008 Rabelais; Stellenbosch, South Africa:  This impressive Bordeaux blend crafted of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot and 9% Merlot opens enticingly with subtle oak, a hint of earth and black fruit aromas.  Expanding on the palate are flavors of wild berry, dark cherry, tart blueberry, and sweet tobacco spice wrapped around firmly structured tannins. The precisely integrated oak shows off pretty toast and vanilla notes (aged 20 months in new French oak).  A deep, dark, complex wine that will cellar nicely for years.   SRP  ~$45

La Motte 2013 Sauvignon Blanc; Franschhoek, South Africa:  This SB is expressive and pure with clear varietal typicity.  Grassy aromas up front lead to vibrant mouth filling flavors of crisp green apple, lemon grass, candied citrus peel and a touch of guava  It is lively and balanced with beautiful acidity; remaining bright and fresh through the perky finish.   SRP:  ~$12

La Motte 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Franschhoek, South Africa:   A bold and intense Cab with aromas and flavors of cassis, black raspberry, red plums, wild berries and a trace of tobacco wowing the palate.  Full bodied with plentiful tannins, this wine is approachable now and offers ageability as well.    SRP:  ~$25

La Motte 2010 Pierneef Collection Shiraz; Franschhoek, South Africa:  Here is a Shiraz reminiscent of a Rhone style wine with 12% Viognier blended in. It is light on its feet with aromas and flavors of blackberry jam and spicy plum chutney swirling delectably on the palate.  Subtle oak nuances and a good dollop of acidity play nicely off the rich fruit.  A well balanced and structured Shiraz with an elegant finish.  SRP:  ~$25

My brief visit to South Africa confirms one thing for certain, I must return and delve further into these engaging regions and beyond.  It will be a much longer visit to South Africa next time!

2 Responses
  1. WilliamSC :

    Date: April 11, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

    Nice coverage of an up and coming area. It seems, from your report, that the quality is improving very nicely. Thank you.

  2. ellen :

    Date: April 11, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

    Thank you William, I appreciate your comments!

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