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south african wine, part 11

Lammershoek Wine Estate, Welgelegen, Aprils Valley, Malmesbury, South Africa
Tel:  +27 22 482 2835
Website: www.lammershoekwinery.co.za
E-mail: kretzelp@intekom.co.za

I was looking forward to my next appointment a good deal. When you are touring wine country as a journo there are four sorts of appointments: those you don’t look forward to and which justify your lack of enthusiasm by being dull or bad; those you don’t look forward to and which surprise you by being great; those you look forward to and which disappoint; and those you look forward to and which live up to their billing. This one fortunately fell into the latter camp.

I was off to the Paarl/Swartland border, where the slopes of the Paardeberg (also referred to as Perdeberg) are emerging as a ‘hot’ new region. Paardeberg has been placed firmly on the map as a source of brilliant wines by the likes of Eben Sadie (Columella) and Tom Lubbe (The Observatory). On this trip, I’d already experienced some of Alex Dale’s Perdeberg wines, and had logged them as being pretty impressive. The reasonably deep soil here consists of decomposed sandstone, granite and clay, and the climate has larger than usual day–night temperature swings. It just seems to result in particularly interesting wines.

The destination was Tania and Willie de Waal’s pad, the home of Scali, where we were joined for dinner by Paul and Anna Kretzel of Lammershoek (together with their son; all three are pictured here), and Eben and Maria Sadie of Columella and Palladius. I’ll write the wines up by producer, beginning with Lammershoek.

Paul and Anna Kretzel bought the Lammershoek farm (along with neighbouring farm Welgelegen) in 1995, at which time the entire crop was delivered to the cooperative. They were getting R1200 a ton for Chenin Blanc (of which they have 36 hectares), yielding at 5 tons/hectare. They thought about pulling it up. Then they decided to make their own wines. The first to appear were a Chardonnay and red blend in 1999; the Chenin was first made in 2000. As well as the wines tasted here, they also make a Tinta Barocca, a Zinfandel and a Pinotage.

As well as making their own wines, they still sell some of their grapes, but to the likes of Eben Sadie and at a much better price. The wines are very impressive, with the Chenin standing out as one of South Africa’s very best examples of this wonderful grape.

Lammerschoek Chenin Blanc 2005 Swartland
This is an old vine Chenin made in old wood (except for one barrel which is new). Half of it undergoes natural fermentation. It’s a rich, intense, dense sort of Chenin with some sweetness to the fruit. Quite a big style with latent complexity and some herbiness. Dense, with real appeal. Lots of promise here. Very good/excellent 93/100

Lammerschoek Roulette Blanc 2005 Swartland
60% Chenin Blanc, 24% Chardonnay (all new wood) and 16% Viognier. This is a rich, mellow style of wine with a brooding nose showing rich, toasty, taut herbal notes, with some fruit sweetness. The palate has good concentration with slightly sweet melony fruit and good acidity. Nice density and subtle oak influence. Very good/excellent 92/100

Lammerschoek Roulette Red 2004 Swartland
Mainly Shiraz with a bit of Grenache, Carignan, Viognier (2%) and Mourvedre. Very nicely defined nose is quite expressive and spicy, with a hint of meatiness. The palate shows lovely fresh fruit and nice spiciness. Quite sweetly fruited with some vanilla. It’s a bit southern Rhône-ish; a wine at peace with itself. Very good/excellent 92/100

Lammerschoek Syrah  2004
Quite a ripe, sweet wine with a chocolatey character to the fruit. It’s quite dense and rich with a sweetness to the red and black fruits on the palate. Evolving into an interesting wine, with a bright future ahead of it. Lovely smooth spicy structure. Very good/excellent 90/100

Wines tasted 12/05
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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