Rhone VS South Africa Tasting

On the 6th of February SASA hosted the first of two tastings pitting key examples of Rhone wines against South African expressions. Focusing mainly on the Northern Rhone, with Syrah, Rousanne and Viognier, plus a little Grenache to make things interesting. Following is an amalgamation of tasting notes, taken from  our senior members, with some footnotes thrown in for the benefit of those that could not make it this time around.

SASA would just like to thank Alex Dale from The Winery of Good Hope and Christophe Durand from Dorrance Wines for supplying some of these beautiful wines. Oldenburg Vineyards for their Viognier and Rust en Vrede for, not only allowing us to take over their tasting room for an entire morning, but also putting their own wine on the spot against this lineup.

 

2014 Francois Villard Condrieu

This wine is clear pale lemon

The wine is clean with a pronounced flavour intensity including primary aromas of floral (lavender) stone fruit (apricots and peach) and almond pip the wine shows no secondary or tertiary characters. Developing

The wine is dry with medium well defined acidity. Slightly warming medium alcohol. It has a medium body with a medium (+) flavour intensity of peach, apricot and lavender with a little more nutty flavour coming through. The wine as a good viscosity and good texture with a medium finish.

This is a very good wine that shows purity, balance and concentration but lacks the complexity of a outstanding wines.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 2 years further ageing

Grape: Viognier

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 8-10⁰C

Food : Avoid bitter elements which would accentuate the bitter phenolics and look for more aromatic dishes and maybe slightly sweeter dishes. As example, oven  roasted chicken with glazed sweet carrots.

 

Note: Many people confused this wine with a Muscat due to the almost grapey floral nose. It is important to note the characteristic lower acidity, even at modest ripeness of viognier and the characteristic viscous mouthfeel.

Available from Dorrance wines

2015 Oldenburg Viognier

The wine is clear medium lemon

The nose is clean with pronounced intensity aromas of stone fruit (apricot and peach), bitter almonds, with noticeably leesy aromas (cheese rind). Fully developed

The wine is dry with a low acidity, medium alcohol, medium bodied with pronounced flavours of stone fruit (apricot and peach), bitter almonds and noticeably leesy flavours (nutty). The wine has a pleasant medium length finish of stone fruit.

This is a good quality wine that shows typicity, with concentration but lacks the complexity or structure to develop off a very good wine.

Dink now

 

Grape: Viognier

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 8-10⁰C

Pair: Avoid bitter elements which would accentuate the bitter phenolics, as well as dishes high in acidity which would accentuate the already lacking structure and look for more aromatic dishes and maybe slightly sweeter dishes. Oven roasted chicken with glazed sweet carrots.

 

Note: The audience generally agreed that this is a very good value for money wine.

 

2015 Yves Cuilleron Saint Joseph Dique

This wine is clear medium lemon

The wine is clean with a pronounced intensity primary aromas of lemon zest, sweet spice, lavender with notes of ripe citrus (orange peel). The wine is developing

The wine is dry with a refreshing clean medium acidity, medium alcohol that is well integrated. The body is medium with a medium flavour intensity of lemon zest, sweet spice and orange peel. The wine has a medium [+] refreshing zesty slightly earthy finish.

This is a very good wine that shows typicity and length but lacks the concentration to develope the complexity of an outstanding wine.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 4 of further ageing

 

Grape: Roussanne

Glass: Narrow tulip shaped white wine glass. Loire.

Serve: 10-12⁰C

Pair: A powerful wine that would easily stand up to lighter red meat dishes preferably where it could take advantage of that beautiful aromatics like Duck à l’orange.

Note: This wine caught out the majority of the audience, even though most got the grape variety right, almost everyone placed it in South Africa, specifically calling it a white blend of Chenin Blanc and Rousanne from the Swartland area. Although hotly debated here the first clear differences between the Rhone and South Africa started to show. Even though it is very hard to articulate there is a marked difference between the acidities of the two regions. The numbers might look the same on paper but they feel notably different on the palate.

Available from The Winery of Good Hope

 

2011 Gramenon La Sagesse Cotes du Rhone

 

This wine is clear medium ruby

The wine is not completely clean with notes of nail polish remover (VA, acetic acid). Showing medium intensity of red fruit (strawberries), black fruit (blackberries) and a herbaceous (thyme, rosemary) character. The wine is not showing any secondary character. Tertiary characters – savoury notes (game). Fully developed.

The wine is dry with medium acidity, gritty medium [-] tannin, noticeable medium [+] alcohol, medium body as well as medium flavour intensity of strawberries, blackberries, rosemary and meat. Here the wine is showing more bitter ´stemmy´ structure. The finish is a medium mouth drying  finish with very little fruit

This is a good quality wine that shows some complexity of fruit and is typical of this style but lacks the freshness of fruit, structural balance with overt stem tannin and concentration of a very good wine.

Drink now, not suitable for further aging

 

Grape: Grenache

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich gamey tomato based dishes. Tomato braised leg of venison.

Available from The Winery of Good Hope

 

2013 Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie

 

The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine in clean with medium [+] intensity primary aromas of concentrated dark black fruit (plum, prune), dried spice (rosemary, sage) and a floral herbaceous notes (fynbos, violet, fennel, liquorice,) as well as earthy notes (cocoa) with very well integrated secondary aromas of oak (toast, smoke) and lot of tertiary character of raw meat. The wine is developing

The wine is dry with a medium [+] acidity. It has ripe, medium [+] fruit and wood tannin and high yet very well integrated alcohol. The body is medium [+] with medium [+] intensity flavours dark black fruit (blackcurrant), black pepper, liquorice, and clove with a long mouth drying finish of dried herbs and blackberries.

This is an outstanding wine. It has structure, concentration, typicity, balance and length.

Can drink now but will benefit from up to 15 years further aging.

 

Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich hearty herbaceous dishes. Rosemary roasted rack of lamb with herb butter potato gratin.

Note: It must be said that this is probably the least impressive example I have personally ever tasted from this producer and it is still an absolutely outstanding wine. Although not a cheap bottle this is still great value for money in the premium wine category and a textbook example of old world Syrah at it’s absolute best.

 

Available from The Winery of Good Hope

 

2013 Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah

 

This wine is clear deep purple

The wine is clean with a medium [+] intensity primary aromas of ripe concentrated black and red fruit (blackberries, cassis, cherries) with a hint of white pepper and liquorice. Secondary character of toast, smoke and clove and no noticeable tertiary character. Developing.

The wine is dry with medium acidity and high alcohol. It has high levels of ripe fruit tannin and dusty grainy wood tannin that have not yet fully integrated. The wine is full bodied with pronounced flavours of cassis, cherries, a touch of white pepper and liquorice. With a long, mouth coating, finish of blackberries, white pepper and clove.

This is a very good wine. Powerful and concentrated with ample structure to integrate and develop concentration over time but lacks the balance and freshness of an outstanding wine.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 8 years of further ageing.

 

Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C – 18⁰C

Pair: High protein or high starch dishes to balance the weight of the wine preferably braaied or smoked to take advantage of the liberal oaking and dark fruit. Flame grilled fillet of beef with buttered and smoked corn.

Note: This wine left nobody in the audience in any doubt about it’s origin. Big dark fruit

driven and highly concentrated. If the Jamet spoke of vineyards covered in snow in winter, plagued by frost in spring and battered by the Mistral in summer, then the Rust en Vrede expressed the concentration and richness of long summers days on hard granitic soil.  

 

2014 Yves Cuilleron Saint Joseph Les Serines

 

The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine is clean with medium [+] intensity aromas of blackberries, thyme, lavender and white pepper. The wine is developing

The wine is dry with mouth puckering medium [+] acidity, medium [+] dusty tight grained tannin, medium alcohol and medium body. The wine has medium [+] intensity flavours of juicy blackberries, thyme, lavender and white pepper, with a long finish.

This is a very good wine, well balanced and showing some complexity with good structure but somewhat lacking in concentration for further development.

Can be drunk now but will benefit from up to 6 years of further aging.

 

Grape: Syrah

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Rich gamey tomato based dishes. Tomato braised leg of venison.

 

Note: Another beautiful, textbook example of old world Syrah again sparking the debate of mouth feel and acidity. Although South African wines often attain the same numbers on paper based on TA and PH, there is a marked difference, a lightness, a mouth puckering, well integratedness about the the higher acidity in these wines that is unmistakable.

 

Available from The Winery of Good Hope

2014 Mullineux Syrah

 

The wine is clear medium ruby

The wine is clean with a medium intensity primary aromas of blueberry and violet. Secondary aromas of nutmeg, almond and rye bread. Showing hints of black pepper and vanilla. The wine is developing.

The wine is dry with medium acidity and medium [+] ripe fruit tannin, some stalky tannin and dusty wood tannin. The wine has a medium body with medium flavour intensity of blueberry, violet, vanilla, and black pepper with a medium length slightly bitter finish

This is a good wine showing some complexity and typicity but lacks the concentration, structure and freshness of a very good wine.

 

Grape: Syrah

Glass: Tulip shape red wine glass with narrow rim. Hermitage

Serve: 16⁰C

Pair: Sweet and savoury style venison dishes with a herbaceous element. Braaied

springbok fillet with blueberry and buchu sauce.

 

Note: This wine caused some differences in opinion where some, this author included, thought that this was at least a very good wine, but others felt it lacked freshness and showed to much reductivity.

 

2009 Hartenberg gravel hill

 

The wine is clear deep ruby

The wine has a lifted nose (VA, acetic acid) with medium (+) intensity primary aromas of stale cooked black fruit (blackberry, prune) and black pepper. Secondary aromas of oak (smoke, toast). Tertiary aromas of damp leather and meat. Developed

The wine is dry with medium (+) acidity medium (+) mouth drying tannin and medium (+) warm alcohol. It is a full bodied wine with a medium (+) intensity flavours of cooked blackberries and prunes. The wine has a oxidative aspect , the finish of the wine is medium (+), wood dry and lacking in freshness.

This is a good wine it has concentration  and some complexity but lacks the freshness, complexity and structure of a very good wine.

Drink now not suitable for further ageing.

 

Grape: Syrah

Glass: Large tulip shape red wine glass. Bordeaux

Serve: 16⁰C – 18⁰C

Pair: Rich hearty winter dishes that do not require much freshness. Black bean and braised beef stew.

 

Note: Considering the acclaim of both the vintage and the wine most people were very disappointed in how this wine was ageing.

Submitted by Barry Scholfield

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