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Myrna Robins

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Wine

Wine reviews, industry news and comment.

Subcategories from this category: Blog, News, Events

Posted by on in News

 

 

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It’s not just the turreted fortress design of Fort Simon’s tasting centre that differs from the traditional Stellenbosch wine farm architecture, but also the fact that the Uys family-owned winery only started producing in 1997, making them one of the “newbies” in the Bottelary district.

Their philosophy is to produce enjoyable well-made New World-style wines, and their 2018 Chardonnay is a good example of success in achieving this goal. Recently released, the estate is pleased that it attracted a score of 90 in the current Gilbert & Gaillard international sommelier contest, a challenge held in France for more than two decades. The wines are tasted blind and results featured in their wine guides - of which more than 50 editions have been published in four languages to date..

Winemaker Dirk Tredoux leans toward making “bold and luscious" wines. Using their best chardonnay berries he fermented them in oak then transferred the wine to new French oak where it matured for some 10 months before being bottled.

 

Although it is apparent that the wine is wooded, it does not follow the pattern of  over-wooded chardonnays common in the USA until recently.

While the vanilla aroma is discernible on the nose as is the flavour on the palate it shares  with wafts of citrus and melon. Flavours of citrus and butterscotch mingle on the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, fresh and uncomplicated, making an enjoyable al fresco aperitif and partnering poultry and seafood – both hot and salad creations – and creamy sauced pasta with flair.

Alcohol levels are held at 14%. The chardonnay costs R132 at cellar door.

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Posted by on in News

 

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What a pleasure to discover a “new” chenin, and one that is quite delicious and a tad different. It’s crafted from grapes thriving in an unlikely area by a talented (and modest) cellarmaster in the heart of the Klein Karoo.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that I only got to hear about Kluisenaar 2017 by Le Sueur Wines via a roundabout route, as a recluse - as Louis van der Riet has named his creation - does not look for publicity…

But when you get a product as enjoyable as this, with a nice vineyard story to boot, the news is bound to get out…

Louis van der Riet, (le Sueur is his middle name) has been making port and other good wines for De Krans for many years. He has also long held an ambition to make his own wines – a dream that was realised in 2014 when he released his maiden vintage.

Focussing on the Swartberg where the vines deliver harvests that are used mostly for bulk blends, Louis spent much time hunting down lone vineyards of chenin blanc that are hidden among the masses. Having found a few, reclusive, promising  and unloved, he became involved with their wellbeing.  Eventually he was able to transport their harvest to De Krans where he crushed the grapes and cooled the juice before pumping to barrels: one third new French oak, the remainder older wood where it fermented naturally and undisturbed for 10 months. No added yeasts, no fining nor filtering before bottling, so Louis claims, with good reason, that this is a chenin “made from nature, by nature”

Low alcohol levels of 12,5 % feature in this limited edition of 1 550 bottles, the wine offers stone fruit and melon flavours, a hint of toffee and vanilla discernible on the palate. Dry ,with enjoyable fresh acidity, all nicely balanced in a chenin of charm and intrigue. Available from the De Krans cellar in Callitzdorp for R175. Looking at his website, I see there’s a highly rated pinotage/cinsaut blend in stock and a merlot on the way. Book at De Krans for tastings and sales.

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Not at all surprised to read that this unpretentious red blend is Delheim’s top-selling wine. What’s not to like about a captivating ruby-hued wine, medium-bodied, aromatic and fruity, that slips down as an enjoyable aperitif? It also goes on to happily accompany a range of home-cooked favourites, from mac’n cheese to chicken pie, from vegetarian pizzas to bangers and mash. It’s a wine that takes to weekend braais with equal enthusiasm, partnering chicken sosaties, boerewors and ribbetjies and yes, will be as happy paired with burgers, with pasta, with toasted cheese and tomato...

You get the picture. But what lifts this accessible value-for-money above many competitors is that it’s been made with care, offering consumers a delicious meld of shiraz aromas, fruit and spices that are well balanced by typical characteristics of cab. It sells for R85, is vegan-friendly with moderate 13,5% alcohol levels and offers a fine choice for everyday autumn sipping as our menus start to reflect seasonal changes.

Delheim marketers suggest that it will also enhance mushroom dishes, reminding us that their famous funghi foraging days are scheduled for mid-June. Seeing that the farm doesn’t produce a pinot noir, the Delheim Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 will no doubt take on this role as well.

Delheim shared a couple of mushroom recipes with us, one of which I have featured in the food section of this website.

Cheers and bon appétit.

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Posted by on in Wine

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Two enjoyable chenins came my way recently, nicely adding to the rich diversity of styles winemakers employ when transforming these versatile grapes into bottled sunshine.

From the Overhex cellars near Worcester, another label in their Survivor range, their 2018 barrel-fermented chenin blanc that is a great match for the seasonal specialties of autumn – think onion tart, butternut and Camembert soup, Mediterranean chicken bakes...

The winemakers sourced their grapes from a Swartland farm called Constantia, low-yielding blocks, that delivered full-flavoured berries. While 30% of the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks , the rest underwent barrel fermentation in first- fill 500 litre untoasted French oak where the wine spent four months before being blended and bottled.

The results are impressive: there is plenty of structure in this chenin, a good balance between wood and fruit, with stone fruit predominant, The wine is fresh but not frisky, and clearly characteristic of the Swartland with its superior ability to deliver quality, fruitiness and backbone in one delicious integrated package. Alcohol levels of 13% are in keeping. The new cellar door price, post-budget, is R120.

 

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From the north-eastern section of the Durbanville region, the vast Groot Phesantekraal farm has been releasing labels from its range  made by Etienne Louw, including this appetising summery 2018 chenin blanc, its grapes sourced from bush vines more than 50 years old. The result is fresh, fragrant and fruity, an unwooded aperitif or cheery companion to seafood and poultry salads. Unlike Durbanville sauvignon blanc which nearly always presents distinctive regional characteristics, this chenin did not identify itself – or not to me at any rate. But at R55 its a great buy and one that visitors to this sprawling farm should be sure to taste. It sports a double gold from the Michelangelo 2018 competition. (The price may have increased since the budget ).

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Posted by on in News

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The name intrigues – Seasalter is, according to Nick Pentz, a mediaeval village in Kent that was engaged in salt production during the Iron Age – and transported to the Darling Hills as a moniker  for a superior sauvignon blanc. As one would expect, this is a wine that reflects Groote Post’s proximity to the Atlantic coast, with hints of kelp and saline touches between the friskiness, flint and some citrus and green fruit.

Seasalter 2018 also offers complexity, partly provided by its component of 10% Semillon and partly because half the wine matured in French oak for eight months before being blended into the rest which fermented in stainless steel tanks.

The characteristic Darling dustiness is just apparent, and the whole is a zesty, layered, distinctive sauvignon well reflecting its west coast terroir. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% are in keeping. Its simple white label adds an image of those white sands, the two seagulls seem to be having quite a battle with the south-easter, and turquoise touches reflect the Atlantic at its soothing best.

Earlier vintages were limited to members of the farm’s wine club, but the 2018 vintage is accessible to all, and this flagship sauvignon blanc sells for around R140.

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