Tag Archives: South Africa

Tasting Note – “The Left Bank”

This is a South African blend I picked up a few weeks ago.  The proportions show an Australian influence – it’s 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz, and 6% Cinsault.

The Left Bank (2013) Western Cape, South Africa – $14

Color: very dark, purple-black.

Aroma: black currant, blackberry, brambles, a hint of licorice.

Taste: chewy up front, with lots of black fruit; more more tannin and acidity on the finish.  Interesting.  With food (spicy steak lettuce wraps) it stands up nicely to the pepper.  I’d like to try this with barbecue – compare to red Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.

Quite nice – grab a bottle if you see it.

 

New South African Producer: Leeuwenkuil

Got three new wines from at Morgan & York from a South African producer I’ve never seen before, Leeuwenkuil. They date back to 1693, so shame on me!

I tried the reds the other day with a grilled steak, and the white last night with a chicken dish that included a rhubarb and garlic pan sauce.

Leeuwenkuil Cinsault (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: garnet red.

Aroma: red fruit and cedar.

Taste: fresh and bright – according to the label, they use carbonic maceration (the technique used for Beaujolais Nouveau) on some of the clusters to produce pure, young fruit notes. A hint of vanilla, and quite soft.  This isn’t up to a big beef dish but would be good for lamb, pork, or charcuterie.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: purplish-black.

Aroma: dark earthy notes and sweetish black fruit.

Taste: Chewy – leather, oak, dried fruit, lots of white pepper and black pepper. Oak and tannin on the finish.  It’s a bit hot at 14% alcohol, so make sure to chill this for a few minutes before serving in the summer.

I’m definitely a fan of this one over the Cinsault.  Needs a touch of air and chill.  Recommended.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache Blanc (2015) Voor Paardeberg, South Africa – $22

Color: medium gold.

Aroma: light – mostly floral and melon.

Taste: great balance of melon, citrus, pear, and minerality. The perfect amount of acidity for a good meal, and the minerality is especially appealing when paired with rhubarb.

Also recommended – compare to white Rhone varietals or blends.

Voor Paardeburg is a new appellation to me; from a bit of research I see it’s a subdistrict of Paarl, just north of Stellenbosch.

Rosé Roundup III: A & L Wine Castle

A couple of pinks from this store on the west side of Ann Arbor; I’m a fan of the Cabernet Franc rosé from Mulderbosh – let’s see how the Cab Sauv treats me.

Unparalleled Rosé (2016) Coteaux Varois en Provence, France – $16

Color: extremely pale.

Aroma: Rose petal and raspberry.

Taste: Melon, apricot, raspberry – quite tart.

OK, but not great.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvingon Rosé (2016) Coastal Region, South Africa – $11

Color: medium straight pink.

Aroma: uncertain – more flowery than anything else.

Taste: Cabernet body, with red currant, raspberry, and cherry.

A good value, but not quite as much oomph as I’m looking for.

 

Lion’s Lair Rose

Stopped in at Terry B’s for a quick glass. I saw a South African rosé, and Chad was obliging enough to pour me a glass.  Even though there’s still snow on the ground here, we’re past the Spring Equinox, so I’m declaring rosé season open!

This is made from Rhone grapes (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault), and the climate in Swartland is Rhone-like as well: dry, with lots of stress on the vines. This produces grapes that are thick-skinned and concentrated in flavor. This bottling is from Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards.

Lion’s Lair Rosé (2013) Swartland, South Africa

Color: bright pink with some copper.

Aroma: rose petals and cranberry. After this warms up, a distinct note of candied apple (what the English called ‘boiled sweet’)

Taste: round and fruity; this is clean and not too acidic. Quite pleasant, and it gets even better as it warms up. This is juicy and has enough body to stand up to a salmon steak or cold pork. $10 a glass, or $36/bottle at restaurant pricing, so I’m guessing about $15-$18 retail – a good price for a top-notch rosé. Recommended.

The Ruins Syrah

Another bottle of South African wine I picked up in the last few weeks. This is from Eilandia vineyard in Robertson region, which is limestone basin northeast of Capetown that has similar geology to the Bluegrass country of Kentucky and Tennessee. I’m drinking this with a spicy chicken masala from the slow-cooker.

The Ruins (2010) Robertson, South Africa – $12

Photo0377Color: a dark cherry-red.

Aroma: this has that characteristic South African stinky nose – what some call barnyard, or brettanomyces, or sulfurous. Underneath there are nice notes of sweet plum and cherry.

Taste: more acidity than I was expecting, with berry fruit in the midpalate, and significant minerality on the finish. This definitely needs food.

Unfortunately, this fades out quickly, and even with the food is thin and tart. Not recommended.

The Curator Red

A Rhone-style blend, with 95% Shiraz, 3% Cinsault, 1% Mourvedre, and 1% of the white Viognier grape. It’s not uncommon to see a couple of drops of Viognier in a red Rhone – it helps to open up the blend, and Viognier contributes more fruit aroma than you’d think, even in such a small proportion.

The Curator Red (2011) Coastal Region, South Africa – $11

Photo0373Color: reddish-purple, verging on black; this is quite dark.

Aroma: blackberry fruit and dried earth notes, with a little spice, licorice, and dried flowers underneath.

Taste: more fruit on the palate, with a mix of blackberry, plum, and dark cherry. This is followed by medium tannins and spice on the mid-palate and the finish. Good balance and a nice length – the fruit doesn’t dry up or get overwhelmed by the tannins. Not in the jammy category, but definitely a New World-influenced fruit-forward style.

A great $11 bottle for pizza, burgers, or nothing at all – recommended.

 

Eikeboom Pinotage

Eikeboom is a 5th generation family-owned and operated winery, dating back to 1873 when their partriach, Thomas Bain, lived on the property while constructing the railway line from Nuwekloof to Tulbagh.

Eikeboom Pinotage (2011) Western Cape, South Africa – $16

Photo0372Color: Purplish-red, and a touch on the dark side for Pinotage.

Aroma: dark and oaky, with some spice, leather, tar, and stewed fruit.

Taste: gentle up front, then building to heftier and spicier in the mid-palate. Towards the back of your mouth, the oak kicks in, and you think it’s going to end up tight, but then the finish is the most complex part, with spice, a touch of heat, berry fruit, and vanilla.

I opened this before dinner. Let’s see what an hour of air and a spicy sausage pizza can do for this…

This has helped. More smoke and fruit up front, a little more complex in the mid-palate, softer on the finish. A nice bottle, but not quite good enough to get awarded recommended status.