The jury is out on promising 2011 vintage
The release of the first of the new summer wines always causes a frisson of excitement among wine lovers, writes Graham Howe
WILL 2011 be the Year of Sauvignon or Shiraz, Chardonnay or Cabernet, whites or reds? The jury is out until the reds are released over the next two to three years and the 2011 vintage takes its place in the hierarchy of poor, good and great vintages.
Looking back on the last decade, many critics rate 2009 as one of the Cape’s great emerging vintages and rate 2006 (for whites) and 2003 (for reds) as outstanding years. In the meantime we can already taste the fresh fruit of the white wines of 2011 — youthful and vibrant in the year of the harvest. NEW 2001 RELEASES: Blaauwklippen Sauvignon Blanc 2011. This charming new release comes from one of the Cape’s oldest wine farms (1682) in the golden triangle of Stellenbosch. A bright and lively wine with a ripe tropical heart and a long, refreshing finish, it captures the vibrant spirit of the new 2011 vintage. Relish with sunny salads, fish or asparagus. Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2011. The Louw’s old family farm in Durbanville makes six different versions of wine from its signature variety. The wonderful 2011 vintage shows its cool-climate pedigree in a mélange of tropical fruit, ripe fig and gooseberry flavours with a mineral edge. Explore the purity of their fruit on its own. Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé 2011. The acclaimed maiden rosé from this cellar is made from single vineyard grapes with intense colour and flavour. A light-bodied wine with a sensual strawberry tone, rose petal aromas and fresh summer berry flavours with mulberry and raspberry highlights. Indulge with tapas, duck and tuna. Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc 2011. One of SA’s top-selling versions of this popular variety comes from a producer voted best value wine cellar by Wine Magazine four times. This mountain cellar has some of the coolest vineyards in the Breede River valley, ideal conditions for growing exceptional Sauvignon Blanc in a fresh, accessible style that delivers a balance of green, zesty and tropical flavours. Groote Post Old Man’s Blend White 2011. The popular good-value, great quality label from this delightful family farm on Darling Hills pays tribute to patriarch Peter Pentz who likes everyday wines. This seamless blend combines the zesty apple bite of Sauvignon Blanc, the rich tropical fruit of Chenin Blanc and the weight of Semillon. Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011. Cellarmaster Takuan von Arnim showcases the natural strawberry and cherry flavours of this variety in a maiden unwooded red wine. Sensual and elegant with lively acidity, fleshy fruit and soft, juicy tannins, this ruby-coloured wine measures a low 12% alcohol. Served slightly chilled, this stunning new release matches salad with raspberry vinaigrette, yellowtail or duck. Kloovenburg Sauvignon Blanc 2011. The new vintage from the vineyards of Pieter du Toit in Riebeek Kasteel combines the ripe tropical flavours of the Swartland in a wine with pineapple and guava and typical green nuances in a well-rounded wine. Try with sushi. Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2011. On a recent visit I discovered that the Loire-like complexity of one of the Cape’s top cool-climate wines is built by blending five clones sourced from 17 vineyards in Walker Bay. The 2011 vintage, a brand-new release, is an expressive synergy of intense green and riper tropical flavours with a generous mouth-feel, typical briny, mineral character and long intense finish. Two Oceans Pinot Grigio 2011. Variety is the spice of life and Pinot Grigio is riding the crest of a wave in Europe and the US. One of a handful of local versions, this aromatic, light-bodied wine with a floral bouquet and a potpourri of apricot, peach and litchi flavours is crisp and tangy and a versatile match for Italian and Asian fare. Solms Delta Koloni 2010. The intense, concentrated aroma and flavour of this unique blend of Muscat d’Alexandrie and Muscat d’Frontignan is created by pressing whole bunches of desiccated (vinecut) grapes, an ancient winemaking technique practised on this innovative wine farm in Franschhoek. Matured for 10 months in French oak, this dry Muscat is vino di meditazione, a digestif to contemplate life after dinner. Weltevrede Vanilla Chardonnay 2010. Philip Jonker, a benchmark Chardonnay winemaker in the Robertson Wine Valley, has released an intriguing new wine that captures the essence of vanilla, as well as butterscotch, honey, coconut and crème caramel. The rich tropical flavours of melon, mango, peach, pineapple and granadilla from these limestone vineyards creates a magical alchemy of fruit and vanilla oak.