(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 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.
(2019) Ken's Dirty Little Secret is his playful dig at the trendy 'dirty' winemaking of naturalista winemakers: dirty in terms of juice being fermented with skins and sometimes stems, and the wine bottled unflitered or fined, so it may show a little cloudiness. Ken has interpreted that with this wine from an ancient 1958 Chenin Blanc vineyard, dry farmed and planted in sand, the wine naturally fermented with wild yeasts. It's a dry, savoury wine expressing lots of minerality, dry and orange zest touches, saltiness, an umami meatiness but great surge of lemon freshness in the finish. A really good wine flirting with that 'natural' style, though not currently showing as available in the UK. Only seven barrels were made.
(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) Half of this Reserve Chenin Blanc from a 38-year-old vineyard is barrel fermented, spending nine months French oak, 20% new. What a lovely nose, creamy and ripe, almondy and with just a sheen of oatmeally oak. Great freshness on the palate of apples and lemons, but the barrel maturation in-filling with that creaminess and density. Great value, and will undoubtedly age.
(2019) Lovely glimpse of flintiness to the pure apple and pear fruit, very pure and delightfully fresh, this entry level Chenin shows the attention to detail and precision given throughout the Forrester range. It's all about the fruit in this wine, made in stainless steel, and with a sense of limpid purity.
(2019) A wine I have admired for many, many years, FMC is Chenin at its most opulent. From low yielding bush vines planted in 1974, it is harvested at full maturity and fermented with wild yeasts in new 400-litre French oak barrels. Some botrytis is always part of the harvest here, though the 9g/l of residual sugar is easily absorbed by the acidity and structure. Honeyed, nutty and ripe, there's a quince and fig touch to this, before a luxurious palate, rich with honey and nectarine, sheer acidity will ensure longevity too. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for the latest vintage.
(2019) Love the name of this, the 'Three Halves' being Mourvèdre with 'a splash' of Shiraz and Grenache, "the total being greater than the sum of the parts." A cellar-door release, so not available in the UK currently, this was also the first vintage which Ken kindly opened for me. Aged in second fill French oak barrels for 18 months, it begins to show some lovely tertiary development, a bit of bloodiness and meatiness, pepper and smokiness, a dense and chewy suggestion to the fruit, though through to the palate the fruit has a hint of cranberry and dry redcurrant that gives the wine a fresh edge, good acids and fairly gentle tannins that give this great drinkability.
(2019) This seemingly immortal wine was tasting fabulous at 19 years of age, and is a wine I have tasted a few times since a first tasting at Ken's winery in 2002. Then I noted "Nutty, roasted, espresso aromas," and while that lovely toast is still present, like the pungent green bean and nettle character of the young wine, it is now more subtle while the fruit is showing more peachy and ripe in a complex wine of great length and balance. If the current releases of the Reserve Chenin (effectively this wine's succesor) has the same longevity, it's a definite candidate for the cellar. This wine is not currently for sale in the UK.
The Anwilka esate is actually in Stellenbosch, once a separate property before merging with Klein Constantia. This is 52% Syrah, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot. Much more minty ripeness, chocolate and mulberry than the Estate Red, a depth of blue-black fruit. The palate has a lot more fruit sweetness too, nicely textured and not heavy or extracted, but full and ripe. Tannins are very smooth and taut, cherry skin dry acids give it a long finish.