I’m on my way home from a brief trip to South Africa to judge a Chenin Blanc competition. I spent just two nights here, although because of the overnight flights this translated into the best part of four days on the ground. Both nights were spent at the fabulous Delaire Graff estate, in one of their luxurious lodges. It was very cool.
I have stayed in many nice places around the world, but this is remarkable by any standards. The lodges are stunning, consisting of a bedroom, a large sitting room, a small kitchen area and a lovely bathroom, as well as a decking area outside with a private swimming pool that’s secluded from the view of the other lodges. Everything is just about perfect. There’s also a communal area with a gym and spa, plus a larger swimming pool, and there are two world-class restaurants: the Delaire Graff and Indochine (which has an Asian influence, and is, by a small margin, my favourite of the two). The lodges are in the middle of the wine estate, and the views here are quite beautiful.
The grounds are also lovely, and there are three signposted walking trails, of which I ran two, and still have sore legs because one is right up a very steep hillside. [The Delaire Graff wines, made by Morne Vrey, are consistently good, and I'm going to write these up soon.]
Last night the judges from the Chenin Blanc competition, plus members of the team and a few winemakers had dinner at 96 Winery Road. It was a really good evening, and I managed to take notes on some of the wines.
Simonsig Cape Winemakers Guild Chenin Blanc Rousanne 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa (tank sample)
A blend of 82% Rousanne and 18% Chenin that Simonsig are planning to make a Cape Winemakers Guild wine when it’s finished. This is rich, textured, warm and spicy with pear and peach fruit, as well as a stony, mineral note. Rich but with lovely acidity. 91-93/100
De Morgenzon DMZ Reserve Chenin Blanc 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Just a baby, bit so clean and linear with great potential. Rich, clean, spicy and bold with fresh pear and citrus fruit. Mineral with nice weight, and lively purity. 92/100
Rudera Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Stellenbosch, South Africa
It’s the first time I’ve had this wine, and I really enjoyed this for its lovely pure blackcurrant fruit with sweet berry notes. Admirable freshness and focus here; a wine with real potential for mid-term development. 92/100
Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is very tight and fresh, and painfully youthful, but I think its the best example of this wine that I’ve tried. Lovely sleek blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with taut spiciness and structure. Nicely dense and quite serious. 94/100
De Morgenzon DMZ Reserve Syrah 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A new wine that hasn’t been released yet. It’s really good, in a ripe style but showing nice definition. Fresh, vivid and ripe with bright peppery black cherry fruit and a sleek texture. Nice focus: very seductive but elegant with it. 94/100
Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is, according to Bruwer, the best vintage yet of this wine, and I’m inclined to agree, with its sweet blackcurrant fruit together with a chalky texture and some subtle green hints that just fit in perfectly. Lovely focus and weight here. 92/100
Johan Malan Cape Winemakers Guild Simonsig Heirloom Shiraz 2010 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a big ripe wine, but I think it also manages to stay in balance. It shows sweet black cherry and plum fruit, with freshness and some lovely olive focus, as well as some spicy notes. Good definition to the sweet, pure fruit, and I find it quite delicious. 93/100