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Mar 15 2016

Late Cape summer: some chenins, viogniers and a festival

I’ll start with the last of these, which I mention as I like wine festivals. This one is of Overberg wines (including Bot River, Elgin Hemel en Aarde, Agulhas, etc) to be held in Greyton this Saturday, 19 March (Searle’s Trading Post, 11am-5pm). It looks like a rather hastily convened, small affair – and maybe all the better for not stretching the winelover too much and staying cosy; I’m going, and looking forward to it. The participants include Creation, Barton, Beaumont, Gabrielskloof, Hermanuspietersfontein, La Vierge, Lismore (Wine of Origin Greyton), Paardenkloof, Walker Bay, Sumaridge, Wildekrans, Boschriver, Misty Mountains, Oak Valley, Highlands Road and Elim – and there may be more by now. More info on the Festival Facebook page or the website.

A few random, recently sampled chenins, pride of the Cape. How seldom does one have a really disappointing chenin? Certainly not in that category are either of those from Joostenberg, the modest, historic Paarl farm of the Myburgh family, source of increasingly good, reasonably-priced wines: organically farmed, made with minimal intervention and characterful and expressive (and generally rather underestimated in Platter, in my opinion). The basic J. Chenin (about R85) is fresh and herbal, with a nice bit of bite, but the Die Agteros version, from the farm’s oldest chenin block, is much more impressive (and pricier, at R165): gorgeous aromas, fairly rich and densely textured, balanced to the point of me wanting to call it “poised”, with a light elegance as well as a firm grip.

Two from Stellenbosch. Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2015 (at R140, a bit less than the Agteros, but less good value) was the best of a recent bunch of Oldenburg wines tasted with, I’m afraid, not a whole lot of enthusiasm by me and Angela Lloyd. Pleasant nose, nice flavours with a firm acidity; clean, dry, tasty, decent – but not really interesting or exciting. Waterkloof’s Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc 2015, on the other hand, is characterised by a genuine liveliness and freshness, along with flavours that keep you guessing and savouring (if you’re paying attention – but if you’re not are just a great accompaniment to food or watching TV). At R95 I must say it’s a better buy than the slightly cheaper basic Joostenberg or the much more expensive Oldenberg.
And so to viognier, by which I never expect to be really excited – and how great it is when prejudices are shattered! They weren’t, really, by the Joostenberg The Piano Man 2015 (R130) – which, I rush to add, is a good and thoroughly
enjoyable wine. It’s neither of the rich, billowing-perfumed OTT style or the more austere, early-picked style; but
somewhere in between, and perfectly satisfactorily so: quite generous, but taut, nicely expressive of the variety, but, like all the Joostenberg wines these days, hinting (or is it my imagination?) at the warmth of the vineyards and the honesty of Tyrrel Mybergh’s winemaking.

But, from Constantia, Eagles’ Nest Viognier 2015 is surely one of the top white wines of that fine vintage and a real
bargain at R155 – I rushed to buy a few bottles myself. It’s always been a good wine, but this was special, I think. My original note shows my enthusiasm rendering me incapable of writing proper sentences about it: Unusually restrained nose, not overtly typical apricot. Some stoniness, spice. Lovely palate. Very distinguished, elegant. Great
presence, intensity, subtle richness. Grand wine. Good length. Very fine. Gorgeous.

I must say I’m really looking forward to trying the Lismore Viognier, which I haven’t had for ages, but remember with respect and which I trust will be at the Overberg Food and Wine Festival.


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