Two very interesting South African wines to report on here. The first is from one of my favourite producers, Reyneke. They are one of just three biodynamic wineries in the Western Cape (please correct me if I am wrong here: the other two are Waterkloof and Elgin Ridge). This is an intriguing wine because it is, at age 7, quite pretty, but it is also delicious and quite profound. A brilliant example of where a fault is not a fault. [The bottle is beautiful, with its etched glass, but also impossible to photograph.]
Reyneke Reserve Red 2012 Stellenbosch, South Africa
14% alcohol. This has a beautiful minty, peppery, smoky nose with some roast meat savouriness as well as bright cherry and plum notes. The palate is smoky, spicy and slightly medicinal with savoury, meaty hints, some mint, black pepper and nice grippy structure, as well as raspberry and blackberry fruit. The fruit is receding a little, revealing the bony structure and the more savoury elements. It’s very dry on the finish. Yes, if you are going to be picky, this is stuffed with brett, but it’s really nice savoury brett which works well with the peppery Syrah characters. Complex notes of iodine and blood on the finish. I love this wine, but it’s quite challenging and dry, and not everyone will get it. 94/100
The second is an ‘icon’ wine from La Motte, who I think are somewhat underrated. Now I am no fan of heavy-bottled icon wines, but I treat every wine the way I see it. This is an interesting wine because it is a multi regional blend bringing together grapes from very different regions. And on opening it is quite awkward, causing a respected South African commentator – Christian Eedes – to call it an enigma, and give it a relatively low score. I found it hard to evaluate, but I’m trying it again now three days after opening and it’s still taut and precise and clearly has a long, long future ahead of it. This structured, slightly backward wine could end up being very serious indeed.
La Motte Hanneli R 2013 South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Syrah (60%), Grenache (30%) and Petite Sirah (10%). 50% of the Syrah originates from Elim and 50% from Franschhoek, the Grenache is from Bot River and the Petite Sirah from Franschhoek. Four years in 300 litre barrels. 1300 Rand retail, 3500 bottles made. This is a powerful yet restrained wine with lovely structure sitting under the ripe but restrained black cherry and blackberry fruit. It’s taut, dense and savoury with the fruit sitting towards the back of the mix, hemmed in by tannins and some good acidity. There’s some warm herbal character adding interest as well as some pepper, but compact cherry and plum fruit form the core of this wine. I’m intrigued by this: it’s taut, savoury and quite structured, and not as ripe as I was expecting it to be from previous vintages. Has a slight bitter damson/balsamic twist on the finish. I think it has the potential to develop some more. 93/100
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