Blends find new way to please the palate
White blends have come of age in the Cape. They give winemakers the freedom to experiment with a mix of components, writes Graham Howe.
IN A blend, a winemaker can put his or her individual signature to a flagship white or red wine. Many consumers still prefer the clearly defined qualities of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc — while others appreciate the complexity of a seamless blend where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To keep everyone happy, this month I’ve selected six white blends — and six varietal crowd-pleasers: Allée Bleue Isabeau 2011. This flagship white blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Viognier comes from one of the oldest wine farms (1699) in the Franschhoek Wine Valley. Barrel-fermented and left on its lees, a potpourri of dried pears, apples and apricots leads to a rich wine with sensual citrus flavours and a rich, silky texture. Bizoe Henrietta 2011. Meaning little kiss in French, small is beautiful at this boutique cellar which handcrafts this acclaimed white Bordeaux blend. Made from Franschhoek Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from Elgin, this barrel-fermented wine was left on the lees for seven months to produce an elegant wine with finesse. Constantia Glen Two 2011. The first white wine in a series named after the number of varieties in flagship blends combines Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc in a wine which expresses its origins in the cool-climate Constantia Valley. Barrel fermented on the lees, it has elderberry fruit concentration with lanolin texture. Deetlefs De Hageveld 2011. The fourth oldest family wine estate in the Cape has released two new flagship white and red blends dedicated to the eight generations of Deetlefs whose ancestor came to the Cape on the ship De Hageveld in 1752. The seamless blend of Semillon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon shows signature elegance. Leeuwenkuil Family Reserve White 2011. This Rhône-style blend of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche and Verdelho comes from an old family farm in the Swartland. A barrel-fermented blend led by Chenin expresses delightful citrus, peach and melon aromas with delicate floral and vanilla nuances. Vrede en Lust Barrique 2011. Released under a new chic label, this white flagship from one of the oldest wine farms in the Paarl/Klapmuts winelands is made from grapes sourced in Elgin and Simonsberg. This rich barrel-fermented blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc has earthy quince character with fine minerality and texture. Alexanderfontein Chardonnay 2012. This wine of origin range from Ormonde in Darling pays tribute to the Basson family who pioneered wine production here in the 1970s. A great value-for-money label, the Chardonnay (all lime and lemon), Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc are vibrantly fresh with varietal character, ripe fruit and balanced acidity. Antebellum Chenin Blanc 2012. An exciting release from Mount Abora and Meerhof joins the ranks of the Swartland Revolution of “back to nature” winemakers. An unfiltered, low sulphur, naturally fermented, whole bunch pressed wine shows the intense fynbos, citrus fruit and minerality of bush vines up to 75 years old. Delaire Graff Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Winemaker Morne Very has won trophies and medals for his Sauvignon Blanc. Made in two styles — the richer, riper tropical coastal cuvée and the herbaceous, granadilla and gooseberry version — both are enriched with a dash of oaked Semillon in wines of exquisite balance and pure fruit concentration. Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2012. I enjoyed tasting the new releases of the 2012 vintage at the launch of a new restaurant on the Louw’s family farm (1698) in the Durbanville Wine Valley. Every one of the 26 gables tells a story. Sixth generation winemaker Thys specialises in six styles of superb Sauvignon. Garden Route Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Grown in cool-climate vineyards in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains near George, maritime influences ripen the grapes slowly. This new label from De Krans winemaker Boets Nel is the perfect summer wine with tropical fruit and grassy flavours, supported by earthy minerality. Tamboerskloof Viognier 2012. This new release from Kleinood, a boutique family cellar in the Blaauwklippen valley of Stellenbosch, is home to Tamboerskloof wines and de Boerin olive oil. This honey-coloured wine has aromas of frangipani, jasmine and citrus blossom followed by citrus, apple and peach on the palate.
The cellar at the state-ofthe-art winery on the Delaire Graaff Estate.
Harvesting grapes at the Delaire Graaff Estate in Stellenbosch.