Tag Archives: poncey

Bloemendal Suider Terras 2014 wooded Sauvignon Blanc

The Headlines: //
“More complex than the American electoral system.
Vanguard aromas carry fresh grass and green pepper up front, followed by slow-attack asparagus, and an intriguing somewhat darker, nigh-on clovesy spice note at the back. Lovely evolution. Definitely not easy drinking, but marvelous intellectual value. 
Oaked for 8 months. 50% new oak barrels.”

Quality: 16/20//
Price: R250 (as of November 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: High//
Occasion: A Summer gathering of the ponce club. On the terrace//
Key words: oak, sensory evolution, trending//
Vivino rating //

 To fill those awkward silences…

It’s not mine, Guv’nor.

I love a bit of wood in my Chardonnay. So one can imagine my dismay when I got totally busted on my passé penchant by an undercover member of the wine fashion police, writing me a ticket for enjoying something as “pas cool” as a wooded chard. Now in hindsight, I should have mustered my finest Gandalf impression and said, “Madam, if you’re drinking wine to be on trend, then I’m afraid you have bigger problems than a few splinters in your Chablis.”
Instead, all I could muster was a weird sort-of half curtsy, followed by an awkward swallow and something about it not being mine. “oh, I’m just holding it for a friend.”

“a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script”

 Be cool. Sport wood.

Now, while the notion that quality can go out of style is sheer lunacy (and so a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script) there are those occasions where one doesn’t want to have to explain oneself.

Take James Dean, for instance. He’s dead, and so finds it almost impossible to explain himself. But he still needs to be cool, right? So what does he do? Well, he delivers a sure thing. He goes for that gray-scale image of him leaning against something. In his black t-shirt, smouldering. I mean he’s smouldering. Not his shirt. But whatever. The point is, it’s a sure thing. No one needs to have that explained to them. It just is.

So what if you have this crazy lust for lumber in your wine, but still need to serve “a sure thing”? Wooded Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what.

Hold the rocks

Sauvignon Blanc’s generally light body and (preferably) crisp, zingy acidity makes it the ideal summer quaffer. And hey, there’s no judgment here, so why not toss a few blocks of ice in there, too. And, hell, maybe a straw, if times are tough.
But when it comes to serving a wooded Sauvignon blanc, you may want to try a more restrained approach.
The touch of oak in these wines bulks up the mouthfeel somewhat, delivering a heavier presence on the palate. Also, it will almost certainly add more complexity than a schoolbus of adolescent netballers, so don’t be afraid to sit with it for a little while. Give it a chance to tell you a story.
A good rendition on this theme should be able to deliver (1) clearly articulated fruit (depending on ripeness levels these could range from lemons right through to sweet [each), (2) savoury and herbal complications (grass, nettles, asparagus, peppers), and of course (3) the oak influence, which can manifest as coconut, vanilla, dairy products, or sweet spice.

*If you’re looking to taste your wine a little more actively, an interesting exercise is to try and break down the notes that you’re tasting into those three categories.

Even The Pundits say so.

If after all this, you’re still feeling insecure, or you’re simply a chronic people pleaser, you can rest assured that at least three of the 2016 FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blancs were wooded (a significant portion, given that they are far rarer than their unwooded counterparts), and so if the big wigs say so, then who are your dinner guests to argue.
The FNB woody winners were:
1. Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015
2. Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2013
3. Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Another goodie worth finding is the Steenberg Rattlesnake. You shouldn’t pay more than R110 per bottle (November 2016)


Lismore Chardonnay 2014

TLDR:  A world class wine with a matching price tag//
Quality: 16/20 //
Price: R220 (as of Sept 2016) //
Value: 1/5 //
Ponce factor: High //
Occasion: Feminist’s Convention After Party //
Key words: Pricing philosophy, Cool Climate //
Vivino rating //

Tasting notes:

Sam O’Keefe is one of the few SA winemakers to have a wine listed in Robert Parker’s Top50 red wines worldwide (her 2014 Syrah), but it’s her white wines that impress more consistently. This chardonnay is no exception. Superbly clean kiwi fruit acidity, set against the ever so delicate hint of vanilla & delightfully lingering lemon rind finish, makes it obvious why the international demand for Lismore wines is so intense. The downside of all the acclaim, of course, is that it’s driven the price fairly high.

To fill those awkward silences…

Samantha O’Keefe is Erin Brokovich

Sam O’Keefe is a modern day hero for both men and women alike. But I imagine her story would appeal to almost every woman I know – A single mom to two very young boys, stranded in desolate foreign land, on the brink of financial ruin, trying desperately to make wine in an area where everyone said it was impossible. It’s either the stuff of lunacy, or the makings of a silver screen Erin Brokovich-style epic.

There she was, in the classic battle of wo(man) against the elements, ploughing onwards (yes, that was a farming joke), despite reaping only very low yields (and a few votes of no confidence from her neighbours). Heck, Eastwood himself could not have cut so stark a silhouette against the harsh frontier skyline.

And, as every character must do on their path to hero status, O’Keefe faced what seemed like insurmountable challenges. Financial pressure was building significantly, and Lismore Wines was in a race against time to start turning profits (Forget Erin Brokovich. I just cast Dolph Lundgren in the role of Sam, with Vin Diesel in the director’s chair).

Keeping with the cliche, O’Keefe was on the verge of giving up, and heading back to her homeland (California, USA) to lick her wounds. If only she could sell that damn wine farm… but for whatever reason, no one seemed to want to buy a doomed vineyard in a region where no one else seemed able to grow anything of any worth…

But as it turns out, this cinematic tale has a happy ending.

But then (all of a sudden, Dolph), one by one, globally renowned wine critics began writing the most incredible things about her wines. Robert Parker first – giving an accolade that no other SA winemaker has achieved… then Tim Atkin praising her Viogniers… and then the international demand followed. Very shortly, it became almost impossible keep any wine for her South African fans. Most recently, she started buying extra grapes from Elgin to produce her latest Age of Grace Viognier (it’s superb, BTW).

And so a (stratospherically-priced) rock star was born…

Now the fact that none of her white wines can be purchased for less than R200 per bottle has left a few disgruntled wine lovers accusing Sam of being greedy. Of tearing the ring out of things. Of destroying the concept of good value.
But anyone who cares to take a closer look at the situation will see that this is nothing more than good old capitalism at work, and the simple result of supply and demand.

When her vineyards produced dramatically lower yields per hectare than she had predicted, her business plan was all of a sudden in drastic need of revision. Instead of 8 tonnes per hectare, she was lucky if she got four tonnes per hectare. This puts a gargantuan nigh-on Tarrantino-esque kibosh on her plans for profit, and a responsibly funded education for her kids.

But what her vineyards withheld in quantity, they made up for with quality, to the extent where wine buyers in the US, Europe, and Asia were knocking on her door daily (sometimes literally, and sometimes figuratively) for more of what the O’Keefe vs Greyton terroir combination could delivery. It is now at the point where she spends a large amount of her admin time simply telling wine lovers that she has nothing left to sell, because everything has been reserved for markets ranging from New York to Beijing.

To buy or not to buy…that is the question.

And so here we are, with Lismore Chardonnays at almost R250 per bottle, and her viogniers no longer available in South Africa – purely due to International demand. Do we curse O’Keefe for her ability to garner foreign currency, or do we acknowledge that, by and large, South African wine lovers are simply short-stacked when bidding against the world’s most passionate (and better funded) wine buyers?

Do we rebel against world-class winemakers who start to demand world-class prices? Or do we simply fess up to the fact that, up until now, we have had some of the cheapest international gold medal winning wines anywhere in the world – and that this fortuitous situation can’t possibly last forever.

Either way, the fact that our local talent is being celebrated across the globe should be a cause for mirth around these parts. Because where one winemaker excels, the competitive spirit in human nature will see others follow, and the end result will be the South African wine scene growing rapidly in both quality and reputation.





KWV Mentors Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

The Headlines: //

Colour is superbly dense. Sweet blueberry and maraschino cherries abound on the vanguard, complicated by some gloriously open oak aromas.
Palate is heavy with ripe fruit; mostly continued black maraschino cherries, with soft pepper finish and some truly grippy tannins. Acidity is moderate.
This could go beyond Thunderdome in two years’ time. But, hell, at R300 per bottle, I guess I’ll never know.

Quality: 15/20 //
Price: R270 – R300 (as of Sept 2016) //
Value: 1/5 //
Ponce factor: Moderate to High //
Occasion: Wine ponce festival //
Key words: Fruit selection, ripening //
Vivino rating //

To fill those awkward silences:

A little on the South African vintage of 2013

Humidity was an issue in 2013. Too high a moisture content in the air can facilitate the danger of rot in the vines. But harvesting too early can lead to stalky and green notes popping up in your wines. So what to do? Wait for drier conditions in which to harvest; giving your fruit time to ripen, but also increasing the chance of losing your crop to rot.
As it turns out, those winemakers who took the risk of waiting it out for drier conditions were rewarded with a superb harvest (especially among the red wines). With KWV having supreme access to awesome  fruit, they could pretty much do what they wanted. Which helps when trying to make wise fruit selection.

A few tidbits on the KWV Mentors range

For those not familiar with the Mentors Range, it is worth noting that the KWV group needs to be understood as a conglomerate of hugely disparate brands, some of which should be given global respect…as opposed to being diluted by Coca Cola. Mentors is one such label. It is a range of wines that has garnered more international awards than almost any other range of wines that our young democracy has tolerated. So, even though this wine is decent, it’s backstory is almost better than what’s in the bottle. Enough to elevate it to the point of being awesome.

But why? Well, for starters, as is the case with all Mentors wines, winemaker Johan Fourie has his pick of some of the finest grapes from pretty much any grape growing region in the country (thanks to KWV’s vast empire and unrivalled access to the country’s prime grape growing outfits). But secondly, Johan Fourie is not a rubbish winemaker. He spent years as a viticulturist, understanding the raw product, which gave him an advantage over those who skipped the agricultural grounding and went straight into the cellar. And then, more recently, he was awarded the Jan Smuts award at the 2015 Young Wine awards for both his Cabernet sauvignon, and his Shiraz.

And if that isn’t enough to keep you entertained, Jan Fourie makes some of the finest Chardonnays that this country has ever seen.
So…plenty to talk about, so long as your dinner guests are vaguely interested in wine. However, if they aren’t, and you still have nothing interesting to add on the topic of democracy, government spending, or indie rock, a sure winner is to play the “artisanal versus big corporate” card (which everyone loves, regardless of the industry), and expand on how KWV manage to be both a big corporate, and an artisanal winemaking outfit that garners international awards.