Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Middelvlei: A Rustic Stellenbosch Experience

The first winery I visited in Stellenbosch was the Middelvlei wine estate. As soon as we got to town, my wife wanted to shop at a local “slow food” market nearby, so we ate some great food and walked around checking out craft vendors. Afterward, we headed down the road to this small wine estate tucked away behind some rolling hills.

After a long history as a farm, and then as a vineyard that sold its grapes to other producers, Middelvlei Estate is now in its third generation. The wines weren’t stunning, but they were fun, easy to drink, very reasonably priced and showed some interesting regional characteristics. The Cabernet and Shiraz were quite good and capable of development in the cellar.

Middelvlei sells their wines almost exclusively to Northern European countries. The winery doesn’t export to the United States, which is a shame because I think their Pinotages could do well on some by-the-glass lists. If you’re in Stellenbosch, the tasting room is in a pretty spot, located in an old barn, and worth a visit. The winery seems far less commercial and more rustic in their approach, which I appreciate. 

My notes on a few of Middelvlei’s wines…

Middelvlei has three dogs: a giant old mastiff, a towering
great Dane and a tiny wiener dog, who are all very friendly.
2013 Middelvlei Chardonnay Unoaked Devon Valley - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch, Devon Valley
Medium yellow color. Fruity on the nose, with lemon, apple and honey. Juicy on the palate, but a bit flat on the midpalate. I get some pineapple, honeydew, white tea, a bit of butter. Simple but pleasant. (80 points)

2012 Middelvlei Pinotage-Merlot - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Dark ruby color. Sweet plum cake, currant jam, some cinnamon and sugar on the nose. Medium-bodied with easy sipping tannins and medium acid. Flavors of plum, fig cake, cedar and coffee. Interested green tea and clove notes come out on the finish. Fun, pleasant, easy-drinking. (85 points)

2012 Middelvlei Pinotage Free Run - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Medium ruby colored. Smells of blueberry, sweet blackberry, violets, very fruity and pleasant aromas. Fine tannins and medium acid on the palate. Flavors of green coffee and cedar accent the blueberry and black currant fruit. For a wine made only from free-run juice, it’s still well-structured. Leather and coffee-laden finish. (86 points)

2013 Middelvlei Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch, Devon Valley
Dark ruby color. Complex aromas of currants, blackberries, cedar, sweet clove and cinnamon. Lovely velvety texture with creamy tannins, fresh acid and juicy currant fruit. Notes of smoke, pepper and sweet meat marinade. Could age quite nicely, but showing well right now. Spends 12 months in French and American oak. (87 points)

2012 Middelvlei Shiraz Stellenbosch - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
Medium purple color. Dark berry compote on the nose, along with black pepper, sweet barbecue sauce and soil. Juicy with medium strength tannins and medium- acid. Flavors of fleshy plums and black currants, along with notes of roasted chestnut, pepper and soy sauce. I’d cellared this for one to three years. I wasn’t expecting much from this producer, but this is quite good. (87 points)

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