food-wine-blog

Myrna Robins

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Blog

 

Flagstone has added a delightful pinotage and chenin blanc, both 2019 vintage, to their Poetry range. They also serve to celebrate our Cape winemaking heritage.

With contemporary pinotage increasing in popularity month on month and with chenin taking the role of the white equivalent as national grape – these two cultlivars can be said to make a perfect pair.

Winemaker Gerhard Swart waxes lyrical about their ability to produce exquisite wines, in this case wines that are food-friendly, accessible and offer great value for money. Which, at R55 each, they do.

The Poetry Range, he enthuses, aims to reflect the essence of the grape, in an honest and open way, similar “.the way that short poetic verses capture ideas...” One detects Bruce Jack’s eloquent influence in his romantic tribute, and it would be hard to find a better teacher!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Flagstone-Poetry-Pinotage-NV-1.JPG

The pinotage screws open to offer aromas of berries and spice, and on the palate is juicy and vibrant with plum and berry flavours, fresh, with well-integrated wood adding some structure to the wine. A relaxed partner to braaied fare, from roasted veggies to meat, and winter fireside sipping. Alcohol levels are held at 14%

b2ap3_thumbnail_Flagstone-Poetry-Chenin-Blanc-NV.JPG

The chenin blanc can be identified by its bouquet of ripe melon and stone fruit,  the palate adding subtropical flavours, with pineapple predominating. There’s sufficient acidity to keep it fresh and alcohol levels of 13,5% are moderate  A summery wine for complex salads that will also pair with casual autumn fare and happily take on breyani and other Cape Malay specialities.

Last modified on
0

 

With a bottle each of La Motte’s recently released 2016 Syrah and their 2018 Chardonnay, one is well prepared for weekend celebrations, whatever the weather, whatever’s on the menu.

Even before one has screwed off the Chardonnay cap and pulled the Syrah cork, you know that you have wines in hand that will adhere to the farm’s established reputation for quality and consistency. Further, you can count on elegance without austerity: these are wines to be sipped, enjoyed whether on their own or adding vinous eloquence to a spring luncheon or hearty dinner.

b2ap3_thumbnail_La-Motte-Chardonnay2018.jpg

Starting with the Chardonnay, the cellar reports that after a long dry ripening season, the grape harvest proved healthy with concentrated flavours. Bunches were whole-pressed and juice transferred to 300-litre French oak barrels for fermentation, followed by malolactic fermentation. A third of the juice was fermented in tank without malolcatic fermentation. After 11 months components were blended and the wine bottled in April this year.

Alcohol pleasingly low at 12,5% ,the chardonnay offers citrus and stone fruit aromas preceding similar flavours on the palate. Medium-bodied, fresh and inviting, with no obvious evidence of the wood, as it’s so well integrated. A delightful aperitif that would also partner well with seafood, poultry salads and cream cheeses

b2ap3_thumbnail_La-M-otte-Syrah2016.jpg.

The Syrah grapes were all homegrown , and the harvest endured heatwaves which resulted in a lower yield and earlier harvest, and the shiraz being lighter in style than usual.  Both elegance and appeal have been maintained, however.. Whole berries were placed into tanks, yeasts added and fermentation followed. The wine matured in 300 litre French oak, to which 15 % Durif (Petite Sirah) was added to enhance colour and extraction. Moderate alcohol levels are accompanied by  agreeable fruitiness from berry and plum flavours , with a little pepper on the palate. The vintage offers a good mix of Old and New World styles, increasing its potential for popularity among all who savour syrah. A wine to pair with any red meat, but will enhance, in particular, those meats sauced with fruit or braaied with a sticky marinade.

Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Blog

Consumers are hurting, and so is the Cape wine industry. With shrinking budgets, winelovers who don’t intend to give up their chenin or chard., shiraz or pinotage, are turning to cheaper labels, with mixed results.

While there are many enjoyable labels in the R50 – 70 range, there are others that may be perfectly drinkable, but are unremarkable, even insipid, leaving one feeling more than a little irritable by the time the bottle is empty.

Move up a few rand and the scene changes – in the field of white wines selling between R80 and R90 and reds between R100 and 110 it is possible to find real class, fabulous whites, reds and blends where nurtured berries are given careful but often minimal treatment, where integrity plays as big a role as talent and dedication.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Vriesenhof-Staff_03.jpg

Here are two examples recently enjoyed:

Vriesenhof Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2017 costs R100 and is described by winemaker Nicky Claasens as a nod to classic French winemaking. Yet this is no austere blend with tight tannins that should be cellared for a few years before opening – it is ready to drink now, with pizza, pasta, other Med-style fare, but will keep happily for a few years if kept in good conditions. The aromas, flavours and structure were all affected by the severe drought of that vintage, producing, as Claassens says, “not only the memory of terroir, but also the expression of place.” It’s quite rich, offers berry and dark chocolate flavours sprinkled with white pepper. It matured for nine months in 3rd and 4th fill French oak and is a great example of the new generation of wines flowing from the historic Stellenbosch cellar.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Fat-Bastard-Chard-2.jpg

Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2018 sells for about R90 and was the wine with the highest score in the inaugural Best Value Chardonnay Tasting convened by Winemag. co.za last year. It scored 90 points and was described by editor Christian Eedes as follows” “On the nose... seduces with ripe stone fruit, tropical melon too and suble hints of vanilla. There’s good mid-palate fruit intensity... an off-dry impression enhanced by vanilla cream, oak notes and a mere hint of burnt butter. Bold be well-rounded and balanced.” It’s hard to improve on that full description, and I am not going to try, but we enjoyed every sip and found it a chardonnay not only of high quality, but rich, round and well balanced. The range may have a fun name but the wines are serious in that they are made with care, made for enjoyment, and are consistent in quality – Robertson Winery has been making them successfully for the Franco-British pair Guy Anderson and Vigneron Thierry Boudinaud for 21 years.

Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Blog

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_De-Krans-Wine-Cellar-1_20190628-130346_1.jpg

While a visit to Calitzdorp and its hospitable inhabitants is always enjoyable, and there’s much to see and do in every season, winter offers both peace and particular beauty in this Klein Karoo dorp: against a backdrop of the Outeniqua, Swartberg and Rooiberg mountains, probably snow-dusted, wandering around the old part of the village makes a great start to the day, working up an appetite to do justice to robust country fare washed down with a glass or two of the region’s fine wines and world-class ports.

Which brings us, of course to De Krans, on the village fringe, sprawled along the upper reaches of the Gamka river valley. The farm was founded in 1890 by MD Boets Nel’s great-grandfather although many decades passed before the first grapes were planted, mostly for sweet wine and raisin production. Fast forward to 1964 when the existing cellar was built and De Krans soon became known for its fine ports and dessert wines. Dry table wines were to follow.

Today visitors can taste the various ranges every day of the week, relish al fresco lunches at the bistro and contemplate the walking trail to work off the kilojoules. Friendly, enthusiastic staff add to the enjoyment while generosity is another ever-present characteristic.

In reviewing fine wines from three of the four De Krans ranges, we start by going back, way back to 1947 when De Krans planted a vineyard of Palomino (also known as Malvasia Rei) in Gamka river soils for brandy production. Some 70 years on they have survived, now bearing small, intensely flavoured berries: these are blended with verdelho (37%) into an unusual, fascinating golden wine that presents old vine legacy with Klein Karoo flavour. De Krans Tritonia 2017  wafts aromas of citrus and honey, while the palate offers exotic flavours, traces of a spicy Christmas pud balanced by acidity for freshness. I can imagine it enhancing a Cape Malay curry, and certain Portuguese classics, perhaps Arroz de Pato de Braga, that flavourful combo of roast duck with chorizo on ham-flavoured rice from the north. It sells for R150.

b2ap3_thumbnail_De-Krans-Tritonia-Red-NV-pack-2.jpg

Its red counterpart De Krans Tritonia Calitzdorp Blend 2016 is better known, having already won for itself an impressive list of awards – among these, Platter gives it 4 and half stars, NWC a double gold, the Six Nations Wine Challenge rated  it gold and the Old Mutual Trophy Wine show a trophy. Composed of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barocca it’s hardly surprising that its dark, tannic, and flavour-packed with berry and plums, but also smooth on the palate , a fine winter wine to pair with venison and beef. It costs  around R185 and also offers great ageing potential.

Then there’s De Krans Basket Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 which proves quite a contrast to the above: For R65 winelovers can enjoy an accessible cabernet that not only offers great value, but is an authentic  expression of the grape – the typical aromas of cedar and tobacco are there, as are the flavours of black cherry and plum. This is a comparatively light-bodied cab, with alcohol levels of 13,5% and ready to pair with pizza and pasta, the weekend braai and provide companionable fireside sipping.

When it comes to port, to use the traditional term, Calitzdorp is the local king, and De Krans – through a lucky mistake – was the first to plant the Portuguese varietal of Tinta Barocca, which flourished nicely in the valley. Today, the region is famed for its production of fine port wines, which – after negotiating with the EU in 2011 – are no longer named “port” but are labelled according to the style of port in the bottle, hence “Cape Ruby” or Cape Tawny”. De Krans marketing is also keen to get consumers to replace those teeny liqueur glasses that used to be used for port with decent wine glasses, something we did a while ago. (Most of these ports are just under 20% alcohol strength, so you are not sipping the equivalent of spirits at over 40% )

Their Ruby port can be classed as the entry level port, perhaps, less complex than its cousins, also more affordable, but nonetheless quality wine and a good way for newcomers to this fortified wine to begin their port journey...

The De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release, a much awarded port wine, and my all-time favourite, is quite delicious, perfect with meatless and poultry dishes, complementing French onion soup and a superb partner to aged cheeses like mature cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan. Its glorious golden hue is the result, I was told, of small oak vats being used which influences the wine along with a greater degree of oxidation, but obviously there is far more to this process. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_De-Krans-Cape-Vintage-Reserve-NV-pack_20190628-130301_1.jpg

The flagship De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve - 2016 is the current vintage – is  deservedly five-star, rated 96 points in the Tim Atkin 2018 report, was judged SA Fortified Wine of the Year, sports Veritas Gold, Michelangelo platninum, and the brag  list goes on... It's comprised of 74% Touriga Nacional, 18% Tinta Barocca and finished with Tinta Roriz, yielding a  big, dark wine, offering aromas of berries, nuts and chocolate. It's complex and bold and deserves to be a fine finale to a special meal, perhaps with a cheese platter. While this is a Cape port that one could safely store unopened for three decades or more, once opened, do bring it out on chilly evenings and savour every delicious, complex sip. You are sampling the results of long and meticulous craftmanship practised by some dedicated and talented winemakers.

          

Last modified on
0

 

What’s in a name? A lot, it seems, when it comes to wine as captivating titles pique the attention of consumers browsing the wine boutique shelves.

And a better example than those of Journey’s End Vineyards would be hard to find. Even the estate’s name attracts: if I was on a Helderberg wine tour, I would want to finish my journey at this mountainside farm with its panoramic views over False Bay. Hugging the Schapenberg slopes above Sir Lowry’s Pass village, the farm was founded by the Gabb family - a Shropshire import- - in 1995, and bottled their first harvest early in the new century.

Second generation Rollo Gabb has been at the helm since 2007, and has increased the vineyard plantings and built an ultra-modern cellar and a tasting centre, its glass walls leading to a terrace that presents a viewing site of note. Mount Rozier, which I remember visiting way back when three partners were intent on establishing a fine range from their small farm, has been taken over by Journey’s End. The viticultural team of cellarmaster Leon Esterhuizen and winemaker Mike Dawson practise the Gabb-approved philosophy of minimal intervention as Journey’s End launch the rebranding of their products.

Three ranges, or series, are now planned, with the first, Tales Series, already available and comprising four wines with expressive, allusive names.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Journeys-End-Weather-Station-Sauvignon-Blanc-2018.png

All housed in dark bottles with white labels and prominent lettering, under screwcap, the 2018 sauvignon blanc is called Weather Station after the Stellenbosch clone known as the Weerstasiekloon. Agreeably fresh and made for immediate enjoyment, with moderate alcohol levels and medium-bodied, the nose is typically sauvignon, the palate offers friskiness allied to winter stone fruit flavours of apple and pear. Well-balanced and makes both an aperitif and a mate for white meat and seafood.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Journeys-End-Haystack-Chardonnay-2018-2.png

 

Haystack chardonnay 2018 alludes to the venerable practice of planting wheat between the vine rows to encourage pests to focus on that rather than the vines and the label sports an eagle owl which is one of a pair on the farm that helps with pest control. Characteristic citrus flavours are offset by backbone lent from a little oak and the alcohol levels are held at 13,5%. I enjoyed this chardonnay and found that it tasted even better the following day.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Journeys-End-The-Huntsman-Shiraz-Mourvedre-Viognier-2017-2.png

 

To the reds: Two red blends, the first The Huntsman, a 2017 vintage that melds shiraz, mourvèdre and viognier in unknown proportions, but with shiraz dominant. Its name refers to the original buildings on the site used by the Cape Hunt, founded nearly 200 years ago. Susbstantial alcohol levels of 14,5% add to the richness of this full-bodied wine, which matured in 500 litre French oak barrels, the viognier separately in tank, then blended in to produce a dark, luscious, ready- to- enjoy wine.

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Journeys-End-rebranded-Tales-Series-wines_20190620-131749_1.png

As is the Pastor’s Blend 2018, named after the local pastor who offers communion under the pines just below Journey’s End vineyards. He is also the connection between the farm and the local village, which enjoys support from the estate in terms of education and upliftment of living standards. Moderate alcohol levels characterise a classic blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cab franc fermented separately and matured in third-fill oak for 14 months. The result is juicy with berry flavours dusted with dried herbs, ready to take on all types of red meat dishes with panache.

The wines sells for between R89 and R99, adding affordability to their attractions. The next two ranges will take the quality to a higher level with prices to match.

The estate embraces sustainable and occasional biodynamic practices, but is not certified for the latter. Trendy winemaking such as the use of (once ancient) amphorae and concrete eggs add to the versatility while drones are employed to survey vineyard blocks, providing high-tech info for micro-management.

Appointments are required for visits and tastings, which can also include snacks while hikes, MTB and horse-riding are also on the menu. For more info see www.journeysend.co.za or call 021 858 1929.

 

                                

Last modified on
0

Wine Articles

Posts by Calendar

Loading ...