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.

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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.

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