Reviewed: 11th March 2014
Like many Australian’s my exposure to South African wines is very limited. Whilst South Africa has a long history of producing fine wine, very limited amounts have made it to Australia. This has often been at the cheaper end of the market.
Winestate Magazine recently hosted an extensive tasting of currently available wines for an up-coming review. I took the opportunity to quickly taste through a wide variety of wines.
I was particularly interested in the Chenin Blancs. They ranged in style from un-oaked to heavily oaked, with the lightly oaked wines of particular interest.
I have written previously that winemaking in South Africa ranges from rustic to very modern, and this tasting reinforced that view. It also highlighted just how good value these wines can be (thanks to a very favourable exchange rate).
The majority of the wines were bottled under cork, with several of the bottles unfortunately showing unwanted characters.
The wines are not widely available, but Tuart Hill Liquor in Perth appears to have a good range. Otherwise you can get in touch with one of the main importers AfriCape Wines (http://africapewines.com) or find one of the online retailers.
The Winery of Good Hope – Chenin Blanc – 2012 (16.8). Light and fresh, with fresh citrus notes. Decent length and texture, with a hint of spice to close. ($12).
Ken Forrester Vineyards – Chenin Blanc – Old Vines Reserve – 2012 (17+). Whilst the fruit is fresh and bright, this is a complex wine that has vanillin oak and barrel fermentation characters. There is decent length on the finish, with a touch of phenolic grip that adds depth.
Stellenrust – Chenin Blanc – 48 – 2012 (17 – 17.5). Oily and viscous, with a lovely almond meal character. A complex, balanced wine. ($37).
Jordan – Chenin Blanc – 2012 (17+/-). Lemon and citrus notes, but the creamy oak and winemaker’s inputs are the main feature. If you like a big, rich chardonnay, this is worth a try.
Old Vines – Chenin Blanc – The Bernard Series – 2012 (17.5+). This wine reminded me of fine burgundy… only different. Fine fruit has been married to quality oak. Long and with minerality to close.
Klein Constantia – Sauvignon Blanc – 2012 (17). Very different to N.Z. SB. Textured, dry, creamy and long. A food friendly style.
Kleine Zlaze – Shiraz – Family Reserve – 2009 (17.5). Lovely shiraz fruit characters in a big, rich style. Liquorice and spice complement the ripe fruit. 15% alcohol, but the fruit carries this easily.
Friedrich Laibach – The Founders Blend – 2011 (17.5). An elegant red that is reminiscent of the wines of Bordeaux. Long and lean, with fine tannins and mint/eucalyptus to close.