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It has been over a year since we last visited the wines of South Africa, so we invited Katie Finn of import company, Epic Wines, to rejoin us for an excursion through the Cape wineries area. Her company imports wines from some very fine wineries that are gaining renown worldwide.
The following Saturday, the 14th, we will celebrate Vanentine’s Day by hosting Brandon Lee, representing import company Quintessential Wines. The opportunity to broaden your horizens expands…
2008 Man Vintners Chenin Blanc, Paarl
The name for this company was formed by the first letters of the wives of the 3 partners of Man Vintners. Only free-run juice was used in producing this wine. The must was fermented over 20 days in stainless steel tanks, and then left on its lees until bottling to create a richer mouth-feel. The wine displays tropical fruit, guava and melon aromas. It is crisp and bold with a sweet citrus component backed by refreshing acidity and minerality, characteristic of the coastal vineyards. It is a versatile food wine to go with most poultry, fish and salad dishes, and rates high as an apéritif.
2008 Neil Ellis Chardonnay, Stellenbosch
Wine man of the year in 1992, Neil Ellis is one of the Capes finest winemakers. In 1994 he relocated his cellar to the Jonkershoek valley in Stellenbosch. A third of this wine was fermented with native yeast in new French barrels. Another third went into used French barrels, while the final third was fermented in stainless steel. All of the wine remained on its lees for six months. The wine shows lemony/lime aromas with green apple and a touch of vanilla. The tight focused palate displays citrusy fruit and an elegant long finish.
2007 Neil Ellis The Left Bank, Stellenbosch
The blend here is Cabernet Sauvignon (57%), Shiraz (33%) and Merlot (10%). This is a full-bodied red wine with purple-red hues and good depth of color. Concentrated red berry fruits of dark cherries, plums and spicy fruit cake flavors provide an uplifted intensity. The nose is clean and pure with layers of rich dense fruits. Oak provides a caramel/mocha complexity. The long brooding palate has an abundance of soft, round, juicy red berry fruits. The vibrant, sweet palate has aniseed spice and black pepper complexity with mineral-gravel texture providing some dryness. Fine, soft, powdery tannins add structural focus and length.
2007 Neil Ellis Pinotage, Stellenbosch
Pinotage was produced by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and is grown primarily in South Africa. Fermentation of this wine was initiated in stainless steel tanks, after which it underwent a series of pump-overs and punching of the cap. This wine spent 15 months in French oak barrels of which 35% were new. This deep red wine has plumy cherry fruit with subtle hints of tobacco that fill out the aroma of the wine. It has well-balanced ripe tannins that give it a soft, elegant taste.
2007 Boekenhoutskloff “The Chocolate Block”, Franschhoek
Chocolate Block is a blend of Syrah (55%); Grenache Noir (20%); Cabernet Sauvignon (16%); Cinsault (5%) and Viognier (4%). Although the varieties have remained the same for this wine since the initial 2002 vintage, the percentages of grapes in the blend may vary. An increase in Cabernet Sauvignon meant less Cinsault made the final assemblage for the 2007 vintage. Fresh berry flavors and a fine white pepper add a spicy profile to the nose. This is a wine of elegance and linearity. The palate seems almost seamless with the soft approachable tannins rounding off the mouthfeel.
2005 Engelbrecht Els Vineyards Proprietor’s Blend, Stellenbosch
Engelbrecht Els was created to celebrate the partnership between wine visionary Jean Engelbrecht and golf legend Ernie Els. This red wine combines Ernie’s preference for Bordeaux blends with Jean’s love for Shiraz. The blend is Cabernet (59%), Shiraz (21%), Petit Verdot (6%), Cab Franc (6%), Merlot (4%) and Malbec (4%). The complex nose opens with rich cedar and cherry aromas. Subtle white pepper spice combines well with a delicate floral and toffee component. There is an extremely elegant tannin structure with robust mid-palate intensity. The wine also shows juicy characteristics brought about by the Shiraz component and employs a powerful finish.