What’s in the glass tonight July 2nd – Syrah blend

Kloof Street 2014

Off Topic: Kloof Street Swartland Rouge Swartland SA 2014 – $$

This is a rouge blend from the Swartland region of South Africa, a province in the Western Cape some 50km north of Cape Town. Swartland is the anglicised name for “Het Zwarte Land” (the Black Land) named for the colour of the endemic Renosterbos flowering shrub (Elytropappus rhinocerotis).

The wine consists of 86% Syrah, 5% Grenache, 4% Carignan, 2% Mourvedre, 2% Tinta barocca and 1% Cinsault. A proper southern Rhone-style blend, this.

13.5 % alc. Deep ruby colour.

Lightly floral to the nose, with dusty dark fruits, spice, vanilla, and bush honey.

A rustic honest red to taste, somewhat lean and angula in the fruit department. There was acid freshness at the death. Quite long, and hot on the back of the throat. Persistent note of tobacco leaf. I expect this will soften over the next 24 hours and round out.

An attractive wine.

Recommended 87 points

What’s in the glass tonight February 13th – Chenin Blanc


DeMorgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2016 – $$

Brilliant pale gold. 14% alc.

A DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin scored very well in a recent Decanter tasting. This isn’t that one. That one is available for quite few dollars more at my favourite independent wineseller…

This one has a warm and distinctive bouquet with toffee, oaky honey, and citrus notes.

Minerally golden fruit flavours to taste. Slightly crunchy mouthfeel. An off-bitter and dry finish. Simple and lean and quite long.

Recommended  – 86 points

What’s in the glass tonight May 27th – Chenin Blanc

DMZ Chenin Blanc 2015

Off Topic: DeMorgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch SA 2015 

On my way back home from my London OE in ‘95, I travelled overland from Kenya down through Zanzibar, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to South Africa. When I was winding things up in Cape Town, and waiting on a flight to NZ, I thought to take a train to nearby Stellenbosch for a day trip. I’d heard there were a few vineyards there, so I decided I would take a wee ambulatory tasting tour of producers within walking distance of the town. And so I did. I recall it was a wonderful day walking the lush and verdant countryside. The vineyards were very established, the wines seemed great (I had no idea what to look for) and I had a lovely lunch at one place that had a terrace overlooking the vines.

Looking back I am astonished I would have thought to do such a thing. I was a beer drinker through and through back then, with maybe the odd bourbon ‘n coke thrown in. I am not sure I drank ANY wine when I was living in the UK. Yet here I was, down at the southern tip of Africa, going for a wine tasting. Even back then, I must have had a subliminal liking for it…

Which brings me back and around the houses to this wine…Chenin Blanc is the largest grape variety grown in SA, accounting for 18% of production. I don’t drink much of this style, as NZ producers are not big on it at all. Whenever I go looking for a Vouvray, or similcra, I often get diverted away towards something else in the shop. But not this time…

Clear pale greenish-lemon straw colour. 14% alc.

My first impression:  Oh. F*kn yum!

A funky reductive nose. Further impressions of golden fruits, light citrus, sweetness, roundness and ripeness…

This funky character transitions to the palate. Quite ripe pear and orange flavours on attack, the funk expressing as gunflint, metallic and struck-match notes. There is honey in there, caramel, and a crunchy bitterness on the finish.

A really interesting wine, very attractive. Wonderful for under $20. You can’t beat SA for price point/value. 91 points

Straight to the Pool Room – Oct 2014

CDR A foreign crop for the cellar:

Leaving the Reservation: Côtes du Rhone wines, and one other

In September L and I attended a Côtes du Rhone: Worth Cellaring evaluation tasting with Geoff Kelly.

He contends that for wine-lovers of average means, the wines of the Southern Rhone valley are the most appealing, food-friendly and affordable red wines on earth.

In his opinion, affordable Aussie reds are too alcoholic, young, raw and oaky; too many cab / merlots are either unripe or too oaky; and good bordeaux and all burgundy’s simply too expensive, as are the better NZ pinot noirs. Reds of Spain and Italy offer good value, but are an unknown quantity to most New World drinkers.

For Geoff, good quality CdRs are well suitable for the cellar, contrary to the views of some overseas winewriters who favour consumption within 3-5yrs over longer conservation.

So, during the course of the tasting we tried blind 16 different CdRs – including Côtes du Rhone, CdR-Villages, CdR Named-Villages and odd wines from districts graduated to their own appellation i.e Cairanne. Chateauneuf-du Pape and Gigondas are the most noted so a couple of Gigondas wines were included in the hope that they set a benchmark.

As further background to the tasting, we were told that the better Southern Rhone reds are made from blends which must include Grenache (min 40% and upwards) and the noble grapes syrah and mourvedre in the greater wines, and carignan and cinsault in the lesser ones. Such wines when not over-ripened are gloriously fragrant, and redolent of pink roses, Sweet William, carnations, thru dark roses to cinnamon and black pepper.

Also, as we southern-hemisphere drinkers are used to ‘clean’ wines ie not tainted by sulphides, it was suggested we might find it a challenge to discover Rhones that are not ‘dumb’ with sulphide compounds. As I personally have found such funky wines appealing in the past, this ‘threat’ did not faze me in the slightest…

Vintage notes:

2010 – vintage with good ripeness and fine balance. The best wines will cellar very well.

2011 – generous crop in average temperatures. Commercial vintage. Some cellar-worthy wines.

So we drank, and judged, and discussed, and between L and I we selected a bunch of wines to buy for the cellar; as listed below, with comments from us and others:

Dom. Guigal Côtes du Rhone 2010 – $$ – drink 2015-2020 – Dark carmine colour. 14%. Floral nose, precision; tannic, rich, good extract and intensity, purity and expression. Epitomises the idea of CdR. Pure and wine-y, with a touch of oak. Long finish. 2.6m litres made!.

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhone Reserve 2010 – $$$ – drink 2015-2016 – Dark carmine. 13.5%. Warm nose, floral. Soft in the mouth, with some spice. Correct depth and finish. Mellow and more substantial that other Rhones in the tasting, more ripeness and fruit weight. L liked this one.

Dom. Des Espiers Gigondas 2011 – $$$+ – drink 2015 – 2020 – Dark carmine. 14.5%. Slightly funky (ha!) and reductive. Pleasing richness of fruit. Very deep, bags of flavour, spice, pepper. Long finish. Wonderful aromas of black doris plums – it truly ‘rests on it’s fruit’.

Dom. Guigal Gigondas 2010 – $$$+ – drink 2016-2022 – dark carmine. 14%. A great nose. No words. Superb wine. Wonderful fruit, with cinnamon notes and cedar. Greater oak complexity in this wine, with stronger grip than others seen here. The last wine of the tasting, and what a finish!

We also absolutely loved the inexpensive Dom. Les Grands Bois Côtes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvee Maximilien 2011. It was up there with the Guigal Gigondas, and would have lasted 30 years but alas, RW’s allocation was sold out, and we couldn’t get any…:-)

Therefore, as our  case had a couple of holes, I filled one with a bottle of:

Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$$ – drink 2016-2018 – This was the leading wine from the Under $30 Worth Cellaring NZ Pinot Noir tasting.

And the other with:

Plaisir De Merle Chardonnay Western Cape 2011 – $ – drink 2016. The SA cheapie L and I have enjoyed a few of recently. Let’s see how well it sleeps-in.