(2021) A very nicely pitched Sauvignon Blanc this, with a touch of pea shoot and asparagus pungency, but not too much, with fruit too, hinting at the tropical. In the mouth that edge of grassiness keeps it fresh, as does plenty of cool citrus and apple acidity to given it a dry finish, but through the mid-palate there are more nuances of that tropical mango and pineapple to give it plenty of charm and appeal.
(2021) Last tasted January 2019 in the full Vergelegen line-up at the winery, this was a cracking Chardonnay then, and is again now. I do however feel my score should be tempered by a point or two, simply because the overtly toasty oak (that I dis not object to) still feels just a little strident in this. There is plenty of oak, vanilla and toast, spice and a pure limey fruit beneath. On the palate the butteriness of the oak again, a nice saline acid streaking through all that pithy citrus and little mid-palate fatness of more peachy fruit. Lovely - but you must like the overt oakiness.
(2021) From a very good vintage, berries are hand-sorted and, after fermentation, racked to French oak barrels (45% new) for 18 months. The nose is gorgeous, hinting at mint but suffused with crushed red and black fruits, and so elegantly touched by graphite and Sandalwood, also touches of kirsch and bright cassis, even moving into Parma violet. The palate is pure silk, glossy and ripe, with concentrated black fruit and again that elegance, not just the cedary touches, but huge juiciness to the acids and a real lick of salty minerality. Long and fabulous wine, delivering loads of bangs per buck. Will cellar for a decade surely.
(2020) The Pinotage component of this wine was strikingly obvious to me on tasting, but in fact the blend is 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Pinotage, with the remaining 26% made up of Cinsaut, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Shiraz. It sees a little oak. Blackcurrant, brambles and lots of fruit on the nose, a touch of leather and yes, a little touch of the 'rubbery' character of Pinotage, but crucially not too much, actually adding additional interest here. In the mouth sweet and slick black fruit, a nicely rustic grip of tannin to give savoury appeal and very good balance too in an easy-drinking and enjoyable red, perfect for pizza, chilli con carne or lasgne.
(2020) Chris Alheit bought the fruit from this Stellenbosch vineyard with the purpose of using it in one of his blends, but called the Carinus family to say the quality was too good and it should be bottled separately. And so, this first release of the Polkadraai Chenin Blanc, made by Chris for the family, appeared. Chris ferments this with natural yeasts in concrete 'eggs'. It has a beautifully subtle creaminess on the nose, a subtle floral fragrance too, but that stony, dry, lightly earthy character of the natural ferment is there, maybe a touch of honey in the background. In the mouth there is substantial weight, and substantial concentration too, a cool, intense, ripe apple and fat lemony fruit, that saltiness and stony quality pushing through on the acidity in a wine that is subtle and yet concentrated, with the ripeness of the fruit revealed slowly as you sip. The wine is available in-bond at time of review, so an approximate final price per bottle is quoted.
(2020) Made for Great Grog by the Kaapzicht winery, this is a pungent and vivacious style of Sauvignon Blanc, with plenty of green pepper and grassy aromatics, but the fruit to balance. In the mouth it seems quite rich in texture despite its lowly 12.5% alcohol, and the blast of tropical-tinged through the mid-palate is nicely gathered up and extended by the briney and very effective acidity of the finish. Actually very stylish.
(2020) Made for Great Grog by Danie Steytler of the Kaapzicht winery, this comes from very old bush vines in Stellenbosch, reputedly almost 100 years old. It's a ripe and leesy, rich style, but with excellent freshness too. Aromas are quite tropical and exotic, but there's a thrust of fresh apple and fresh-squeezed lemon on the palate, giving it a zesty, lip-tingling finish. Very nice to drink on its own or with fish and shellfish.
(2019) On a visit to Vergelegen earlier this year I was really impressed by their wines, so it's nice to feature this moderately-priced red from their range. One hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it spent 17 months in barrels from top French coopers, 40% new. Bottled in October 2014, even with an additional half decade of ageing it retains a tightly-wound, serious structure, the deep black fruit bound by firm, gripping tannins and decisive acidity. It's a savoury wine, to be enjoyed now and best decanted for a couple of hours, or indeed cellared for a decade more, but it delivers a rich, concentrated mouthful of bold plummy fruit, with cedar, liquorice and spice adding to the chewy density and gastronomic appeal. Watch the video for more information and note the price is a special offer - other retailers are around £17 - £20 for this wine.
(2019) A Rhône blend of 49% Syrah, 45% Grenache and 6% Mourvèdre, the Syrah for The Gypsy comes gravel soils over clay, the Grenache from decomposed granite at 450m altitude. It spent two years in French oak, all new. A sonorous, deep nose melds cocoa and cedar with lots of plum and brighter cherry fruit. On the palate it's a wine that beautifully marries that richness and depth with an agility through a certain peppery spice, taut tannins and a very good acid framework. Yes it has a chewy character, but fruit and freshness too.
(2019) A traditional method fizz with secondary fermentation in individual bottles, and made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Ken explains the technicalities of this wine, or rather the vineyards, which ripen three weeks later than other Chenin plots, so perfect for picking with lower potential alcohol as sparkling base wine. It spends 27 months on lees and in bottle before release. Fine mousse, delicious fruit, long, and though there is a creaminess here it has real crunch and absolute freshness.