South African Gems
05 Thursday Jan 2017
David Finlayson 2013 Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard Old Vine Camino Africana 13.5%
This characterful wine is composed of fruit harvested from bush vines planted in the Bottelary Hills of Stellenbosch in 1947. These vines are some of the oldest in the Cape. The result of their fruits being vinified in two new French oak barrels (that’s all that was made) then aged 12 months on their lees is nothing short of brilliance. In terms of complexity, concentration and length, it easily rivals top Burgundian Premier Cru Chardonnays but at one-third of the price. Its succulent attack shows decadently ripe fruits that include pineapple, banana and bruised apples accented by an array of sweet spices. Medium-plus in weight, the integrated and nicely supporting acidity gives this Chenin Blanc lift and focus as well as the ability to continue to age gracefully in bottle. The flavor intensity and impeccable balance give this wine a seriously irrisistible character.
Luddite 2014 Saluez Le Saboteur 14.5%
This blend of 77% Shiraz, 19% Mourvèdre and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa’s cool Bot River area in Walker Bay is downright sexy. It’s beefy, spicy and minty. Broad on the palate with full body and plenty of muscle but without excess fat, this enticing mix shows pleasantly firm but kind tannins and just enough buoyant acidity. The blackberry fruit characters are subtle, making way for this dark red’s slatey and smoky savoriness. Moreover the palate is as fun as the packaging, which nods to the protestors of France’s new industrial era, who threw their wooden “sabot” shoes into the machines. The founders of Luddite believe that nothing – and especially not technology – can replace pasison and careful craftmanship.