Wines of South Africa Release

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} catch(err) {}Yesterday I had the good fortune to be invited to the fall release of South African wines at the Sutton Place Hotel. Andre Morgenthal from WOSA in South Africa was present to tell us about wine making in South Africa as well as lead us through a tasting of 9 wines. I was fortunate to meet Andre as well about 5 years ago when he brought over a selection of bottles for us to try as well.

A bit of background for those of you that are not too familiar with South African wines. This year South Africa is celebrating 350 years of wine making, which started in 1659. South Africa is known as the Old World of the New World as their wines share characteristics of both worlds. You get the more fruit which is typically representative of wines of the New World, but you also get the structure and terroir of the Old World. These wines usually do very well with food. During apartheid, South African wineries produced wines that the locals enjoyed, but did not translate well to the palates of the rest of the world. When apartheid lifted in the early 1990’s, South African wineries had to quickly adapt their wine making style to what consumers world-wide enjoy. It took a few years to get there, and their wines are now very well received on the world stage.

There are approximately 700 wineries in South Africa with about 6800 labels. It is a very ancient land with ancient soils as there was no glaciation as their was in North America for example. So the soils are from very old weathered rocks and have very small areas of unique soils/climate (terroir) across South Africa. So you could try a Sauvignon Blanc for example from 7 different regions within South Africa and they could taste very different.

The wines we tried were:
– Moreson Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic Sparkling wine NV
– Vinum Chenin Blanc 2008
– Graham Beck Gameskeeper’s Reserve Chenin Blanc 2008

– Thelema Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc 2008

– Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2008

– Winery of Good Hope Pinot Noir 2008
– Golden Kaan Winemaker’s Edition Shiraz 2004

– La Motte Shiraz 2007
– Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2005

Moreson is a small producer in South Africa. Cap Classic is South Africa’s term for Method Champenoise (changing the still wine into sparkling wine in the bottle). It had a very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. It had a long finish. Nice.

The Vinum Chenin Blanc was a light, bright lemon colour. It had smoky, woody, waxy, lemon aromas. Light/medium body, round mouthfeel, with oak and citrus flavours, and a spicy long finish. FYI, “Steen” is the South African word for Chenin Blanc.

Graham Beck is one of my favourite producers in South Africa. I have read that President Obama drank a bottle of Graham Beck NV Brut sparkling on election night. This chenin blanc was bright, light lemony coloured. Green pine, citrus, oak aromas. Round mouthfeel with oak, spice, tropical fruit and citrus flavours. I tried this wine again at the end of the tasting and the aroma completely changed which is cool. The greeness disappeared and was replaced by a lime peel aroma.

We had one Sauvignon Blanc in the tasting, which was the Thelema Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc. Sutherland being the name of the vineyard in Elgin. This wine had lots of green vegetal aromas, especially asparagus. On the palate I noted “saltiness” which was not unpleasant, but very unique as i’ve only tasted this before in sherry. It could be that the green vegetal and asparagus flavours were so pronounced it “tasted” salty. This wine had good acid and length.

The Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay was our last white wine in the tasting flight. This is a BIG chardonnay with lots of oak, buttery, vanilla, citrus aromas. Full bodied with nutmeg, vanilla, citrus and apple flavours. Round mouthfeel.

Our first red wine was the Winery of Good Hope Pinot Noir. This wine started off with aroma of violets, but later in the tasting the nose changed to cherries and spice. On the palate there were flavours of violets, roses, red cherries and a dry finish. A nice light bodied pinot noir.

Our next red was the Golden Kaan WInemaker’s Edition Shiraz. This wine was deep reddish purple in the glass. Tar, burnt rubber and dark fruit on the nose. Cherries and good fruit. Smoky finish and a bit of spice.

Another shiraz we enjoyed was the La Motte Shiraz. This one was deep extracted purple in colour. It had a nice nose, with some spice, red juicy fruit. A round mouthfeel with LOTS of red fruit and some spice. Dry finish. Very nice.

Our last wine is Glen Carlou Grand Classique. Glen Carlou is one of the wineries from South Africa that I like alot. Their shiraz is very good and their chardonnay. The Grand Classique is a Bordeaux blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. This one was deep purple in the glass. Lots of vanilla, dark sweet fruit and chocolate nose. Medium-full body with black fruit and chocolate flavours. Very smooth.

Some of these wines are not yet available in BC, but I do know that you can buy the Glen Carlou at Everything Wine in North Vancouver. Enjoy!

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