Christmas and New Year wine highlights
Now that we are approaching the end of the festive season I thought I would run through a few of my vinous highlights.
For Christmas Day lunch was a move away from the traditional roast turkey. I can’t actually recall when I last ate turkey on the day. We opted for Confit of Duck, ably cooked by my brother-in-law and a light crab salad starter. These were paired respectively with the 2015 Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc from Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch and the 2013 Iona Wine Farm Pinot Noir from Elgin.
The Warwick Estate Sauvignon is a lightly mineral example of the variety with subtle citrus and green fruits rather than an excessively herbaceous character. The wine benefits from the addition of 10% Semillon and was fermented in stainless tanks with a combination of cultured and wild yeasts providing both aromatic fruit and greater weight on the palate. The texture of the wine is further enhanced with four months on lees.
The Iona Pinot Noir comes from cool Elgin vineyards, which are above 400 metres but in close proximity to the ocean, cooled by elevation and moderated by maritime breezes. The wine is in the fuller dark fruits spectrum, ageing is in 300 litre barrels (225-228 litres being the norm in Burgundy) and just 25% are new. The result is a fine balance of dark cherry fruits and a rich texture on the palate, with a nice edge of fresh acidity, which perfectly balanced the Confit.
For New Years Eve a number of us gathered and sampled several different bottles ranging from light fresh and approachable to sturdy, structured and in a couple of cases pretty pricy. Here then is a quick summary.
2015 Thirst Cinsault from the Winery of Good Hope in Stellenbosch is a light coloured, refreshing and vibrant red (well almost a dark rosé) which weighs in at just 11.5% alcohol and makes an excellent aperitif but offers an impressive depth and intensity of fruit, no doubt helped by vineyards planted over 25 years ago.
Bodega Crápula is a new name in the Jumilla DO in the south east of Spain. An excellent fruit driven example, the 2013 N d Q 3 Meses is a young Joven style with minimal oak ageing. It shows the vibrant dark fruit youthful potential of the Monastrell (blended with a little Syrah) and I preferred it to the marginally more expensive 2012 N d Q Selección which is a more traditional style spending longer in wood.
Standout red of the evening was the 2012 Vilafonté Series M from Paarl in the Cape. It’s a great example of the dynamism and quality being achieved now in South Africa. This is a serious, structured and very finely crafted red, still young but made an excellent foil for roast duck. It comes from a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a piercing black fruit and cedary intensity.
Mas Gabinèle is a small domaine based in the Faugères appellation in France’s Languedoc region. They make an excellent range of modern reds and whites and the 2011 Faugères Inaccessible is by far their most expensive wine. Coming from a blend dominated by Mourvèdre, the wine reflects its name and is as yet very young and needs at least three years further cellaring. At present I would say their 2012 Faugères Rarissime is the more enjoyable and approachable wine, coming from a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. It has attractive dark, spicy fruits and a supple structure with well-balanced tannins.
The New Year was seen in with the small Boizel House’s top cuvée, the 2000 Joyau de France. Richly textured, offering a biscuity, buttery complexity this is a Champagne with real character. From a blend of roughly one-third/two-thirds Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the wine is aged on lees for 12 years.
Remember all of these wines will be covered in the upcoming 10th editions of Wine behind the label as well as our new wine club database.
I shall be doing a number of blogs in the next couple of months with some tasting highlights of rarer wines from 2015 and some recommendations featuring wines not only of fine quality but also excellent value.
All the best for 2016.