2016 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t had a lot of great wine from South Africa. That’s due in large part to the fact that there’s only a few wines available in my province that are not highly commercialized inexpensive examples that seem to have the same taste year after year.

I know there’s great wine being made and even the wines of these cutting-edge and top producers in the region offer a lot of value for the money, whether it’s an aromatic white or a bold red that you’re looking for. The Chenin Blanc grape in particular seems to be the most versatile and wide-ranging in terms of what style of wine is being made. Given its neutral grape characteristics, much like in the Loire, varying styles of the wine are being made. These styles range from bone dry and crisp to dessert wines with botrytis.

De Morgenzon is an ambitious winery that has to be up there with some of the most exciting wines I’ve tasted from the region, including wines from the likes of Boekenhoutskloof, Bouchard Finlayson, Hamilton Russell and Ken Forrester. This wine in particular is an ambitious one, which benefits from 45 year old bush vines (they have since been put on trellises), located at altitude in near proximity to the sea. The wine underwent natural fermentation in French oak, which seems to vary from around 20-25% new oak, depending on the vintage. There’s a lot going on with this wine with flavours ranging peach, pear, tangerine, custard, toast, citrus blossom and a slightly honeyed character. In many ways similar to a Chardonnay but with an acidic punch. The finish on this one was long and there was a lot of complexity jumping out of the glass. This wasn’t what I was expecting from this wine but it was very enjoyable. Always good to try something new.

Ever have wine from this producer? What’s your favourite South African wine? Leave a comment or message me with your answers!

Cheers,
Ben

 

 

 

 

 

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The Tuscan Rebellion and the Wines of Bolgheri

I like a good rebellion, a good underdog story and breaking the rules to make something better and/or do the right thing. In many ways the wines of Bolgheri and the surrounding area have done just that.

When the Italians invented the DOC/DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata system, rigid rules were put in place to control the fleeting quality of Italian wines. While this was successful in bringing up the overall quality and sense of place of Italian wines, it also enforced specific blending requirements. In Chianti this meant following the traditional Barone Ricasoli blend, which allowed for 20% white wine to be added. Over time quality dwindled as more and more white wine entered into the wines. IMG_2628

Many winemakers wished to defy the rules. The Antinori’s, in particular decided to not only go against the rules that had been put in place but even started to add international varietals. A wave of change swept over the region. Since the 1970’s many changes have taken place and the wine laws of the region have been changed. These wines have been heralded as some of the best in the world, comparable with the top wines of Bordeaux, Napa and Burgundy.

This Guicciardini Strozzi Ocra Bolgheri is the perfect example of how times have changed. The Guicciardini Strozzi family has been active producing wine for over 1000 years, dating back to 994. They’re the 15th generation descendants of Mona Lisa and yet they have left much of tradition behind in hopes of producing a superior wine. This Bolgheri boasts 40% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. There’s not a native grape to be found. This wine has blackcurrant, black cherries, ripe dark plums, pepper, clove, vanilla, milk chocolate and leather. This is pretty typical of what I’ve come to expect from the region and that’s not a bad thing. Perfectly ripe fruit, noticeable acidity and tannins that are starting to round out. I’ll often reach for these wines as a Bordeaux alternative. The rebel inside of me also likes the story of how these wines came to be. I picked up this one for just $21 and it’s drinking better than a lot of $50 Bordeaux I’ve had recently. While prices and quality vary there’s no shortage of good wines coming from this Tuscan paradise.

Anyone else like the wines of this region? I’d love to hear your thoughts?

Cheers,
Ben