Sunday, 23 November 2014

Elgin - the apple of my eye

Travelling up the Highland's Pass, from the South, is in my opinion, the intelligent way to visit this region. First stop is Iona and here you'll not only get a taste of what makes the place special, you'll also get a great birds-eye view of the wonderful bowl of mounds and hollows that, along with it's soils, it's elevation, cool climate and sea breezes, give this place the ability to control the vine, optimising potential through the slow ripening of fruit and putting more concentrated and complex flavours in the glass. Once prime apple and pear territory, there has been a revolution over the last 25 years and now some very special wines are being produced.

Our 1 day visit saw us stopping at Iona, Southhill, Charles Fox, Oneiric, Highlands Road, Paul Wallace, Hannay and Catherine Marshall Wines and Belfield. The astonishing thing was the hospitality of the people, with owners and winemakers sitting pouring wine for us, overlooking their vineyards. The sort of 'hands-on' attitude that is (wonderfully) becoming more commonplace in South Africa. What people like myself (that make the effort to travel into different wine regions) are looking for is a genuine feeling of the people and passion of the place, that's all. Maybe a little wine as well.
Iona's entrance
Mind the fountain

The view from Charles Fox
On the way in to Oneiric

Highlands Road

Kosie van Der Merwe - 'sleeping' winemaker at Hannay
Mike Kreft - always a gem
I was truly impressed with my first visit to a region (MAP) that has pretty rapidly risen to the top of my SA wine destination list. The crisp, terroir-driven wines of Iona, Paul Wallace's 'Big Dog' Malbec and even bigger sense of humour and the elegant reds and open arms of Mike Kreft at Belfield, there was a surprise around every corner. My wine highlights were was follows:

2009 Iona One Man Band - a big, elegant blend of Syrah, Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Mouvedre

2012 Oneiric Chardonnay - a great balance of wood and fruit with a long, lingering finish

2010 Oneiric Cousin Jack - an elegant 50/50 Cab/Merlot

2013 Highlands Road Sauvignon Blanc - fig/gooseberry/mineral in droves

2014 Paul Wallace Little Flirt (Sauvignon Blanc) - my number 1 value for money pick

2011 Elgin Vintners Chardonnay - with such big fruit, the french oak serves only to elevate this wine, and the result is pure balance and intense complexity

2011 Elgin Vintners Viognier - try this even if you don't like the varietal, beautifully wooded with a long finish

2010 Paul Wallace Black Dog Malbec - fruit bomb of note

2011 Hannay Cabernet Franc - lively fruit, low in tannins

2010 Belfield Syrah - 'The grapes were harvested at 23.5 balling, in the cool of the morning, and soaked on the skins for four days at 12ÂșC for optimal flavour and colour extraction. The wine was fermented dry on the skins, then racked to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. Maturation took place in barrel for 11 months.' - this is the wine that you just have to try!


No comments:

Post a Comment