Monday, May 20, 2013

Three Kick-Ass Wines From South Africa's Stellenbosch Region

I still haven’t made it to South Africa. It’s a travesty, considering the country offers opportunities to do some of my favorite things in life: surf awesome waves, tour wineries (and drink!), watch wildlife.

But until I make an epic pilgrimage to South Africa, I’ll have to settle for sipping on the country’s great wines. Here are three such wines from the Stellenbosch region that recently wowed me. All three of these wines were received as trade samples and tasted blind.

2012 De Morgenzon Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé DMZ - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch ($15)
Bright salmon-pink color. Wow, smells like strawberry bushes covered with white flowers and cracked pepper. Tangy, spritzy, full of fresh watermelon, tangy cherry, white flowers, red apple peel. Notes of pepper and mineral add complexity. The verve of this wine is awesome. Notes of yellow onion? A great bottle to serve with the salads and seafood of summer. And what a bargain at $15. (88 points)
2009 De Toren Z - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch ($26)
Aromas of dark roasted coffee, crushed blackberry, hint of tart cranberry, dried leaves and soil as well. On the palate, firm tannins and wonderfully fresh acid. Interesting mix of fresh blackberries and cranberries, hints of roasted coffee and a hazelnut-toast aspect lingers on the finish. Well-played oak doesn’t overpower the pure fruit flavors. I love the hint of chewing tobacco, smoke and tilled soil on the finish. Very focused, but still very young and capable of cellaring for three-to-five easily. A Bordeaux style blend of 56% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and a 2% shot of Petit Verdot. (90 points)

2010 De Toren Fusion V - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch ($45)
The nose, where to start? Plum cake, fig, currant jam, cedar, pine needles, mocha. Wow. Tart acid on the palate, firm tannins, and generous fruit. Plums and currants mix with earth and cedar and black olive. This is granite-structured, but the acid is wonderful. The notes of bay leaf and potting soil pay homage to the Old World, but the fruit has such richness. Aged 12 months in 50% new oak, but the toast and mocha flavors are extremely well-integrated. This wine is showing wonderfully now, but it’s a big one that will be even more interesting in five or eight years. A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. It’s not necessarily cheap, but well worth the money if you’re looking for something special. (93 points)

These wines were reviewed for

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