Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2012 Franschhoek South Africa

Already a lot of Whiskies are covered this year, so why not divert to a nice Wine again. There is a lot around to enjoy! Today we’ll be looking at a nice blend from South Africa, but first, an introduction:

The winery was founded by Hugenot settlers in 1776. A group of wine-enthousiasts bought the farm in 1993 and major development took place since 1996. Boekenhoutskloof today has around 20 hectares of vines. 75% are red grape varieties (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and thus 25% are whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier). Boekenhoutskloof is farming organically and has plans for bio-dynamic wine making. The winery produces around 3 million bottles per year of which 95% is branded as Porcupine Ridge and Wolftrap, the other 5% are marketed as Boekenhoutskloof and Chocolate Block. Chocolate Block we’ll be looking at is made with 70% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Grenache, 6% Cinsault and 1% Viognier. The Syrah grape variety is grown in Malmesbury where it has deep-rooted vines and gives a lot of color, flavor and tannins. Grenache is grown in Citrusdal which has a sandy terroir, excellent for Grenache. Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier are grown in Boekenhoutskloof and Cinsault is grown on granite soils in Wellington. So quite a complex blend.

The Chocolate Block 2012Franschhoek Valley is a broad valley in the south-east corner of Paarl, Western Cape. Franschhoek is warm and produces robust red wines (and fruity whites). The surrounding mountains (Wemmershoek to the north and Groot Drakenstein & Franschhoek to the south) cast shadows which help reducing the temperature and hours of sun the grapes get. They also reduce the influence from the sea. On the other hand, the mountains also hold the cooler winds from the south. Terroir is alluvial sandstone (doesn’t hold water well) and in the north some granite (in the mountains). On the hillsides there is some clay to be found.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Spicy, sweet red fruits, very nice and very appetizing. Fat (sweet) fruit notes, like plums, apple skins with a hint of Tobacco, but also fruity strawberries. Lots of creamy vanilla. Excellent warming nose.

Taste: Dark fruits, although none of them leap out my glass specifically, slightly unripe strawberries and some red berries maybe. A sort of “total” taste. A mild and very nice acidity that transforms into the oaky bitterness that is in the finish. Spicy wood, and no shortage of soft tannins. Next a hint of licorice. Hint of oaky bitterness in the finish.

Definitely a Syrah, although the Cabernet Sauvignon is detectable too. Excellent stuff. The wine has an ABV of 14.5%. The bottle was from Lot No. L13/252 and this vintage yielded 1735 barrels.

Points: 87

Stormhoek Moscato 2013

And here is another wine favoured by my wife and my mother! Again a white one, but this time without bubbles but a lot sweeter. Master Quill already reviewed a white wine from the Western Cape region of South Africa. I have the feeling there is quite a lot of marketing going one here, since the label states as with the best of cosmetics: London Cape Town New York. Wow! The wine has the following enlightened text on the back label: Be Moved. Love. Encourage and Excite. Be enthusiastic. Motivate. Change the World or go Home…

Stormhoek can be found on the internet, but also on Facebook and Twitter.

Color: Ultra light white wine.

Nose: Sweet, artificial fruity sweet. Lots of peaches and apricots. Slightest hint of acidity. lemons. Lemonade. Very very fruity (and sweet-smelling).

Taste: Very sweet and really a peach drink. It’s so sweet and fruity I can hardly notice it is made with grapes. Funny that the back label stresses that it ís made with grapes, and tastes of grapes. I have drank wine made with muscat grapes before, but never so fruity as this one is. Deep down there is some acidity that very much resembles Vitamin C.

Going by the nose and the taste I would almost call this a children’s wine. Still this summer wine does have 8.5% ABV, so nevertheless it isn’t suitable for children. Recommended by my mother and my wife. I will recommend this a s a compote! Definitely designed for a young public (read women), hence the marketing.

Points: 75

Backsberg Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Lets start the summer month of July with a nice and Sunny white wine from South Africa. This Backsberg is made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. Sauvignon Blanc is right behind Chardonnay for the title of most popular white grape variety, and therefore can be found all across the globe. Like the Chardonnay originates from Burgundy France, Sauvignon Blanc originates from Bordeaux France. Thus we have a derby on our hands. Sauvignon Blanc is known to be dry, crisp, elegant and refreshing, but also is used to make the sweet wines from Sauternes. The terroir is, especially with Sauvignon Blanc, very important in how the wine will eventually taste. A very versatile and popular grape variety. Meant to be drank when young, most Sauvignon Blancs are not for (extensive) ageing, unless aged in oak.

Backsberg comes from Paarl. Paarl being the second largest city in the cape region. You just get one guess what is the biggest city in the South-African Cape region. Grandpa Back was a refugee from Lithuania, who eventually got the chance to buy a farm. Part of the farm were wine grapes which more or less started the wine business for Grandpa C. Back. His son S. Back first worked alongside Grandpa C. and concentrated more and more on the wine business of the farm. S. Sold the stock, equipment and the name: Back’s wines (to pay off some debts) and started fresh with the name Backsberg. The first 10 years selling peaches off the farm! Remember that, because the peaches will return! Next in line was M. Back, he made the wine business big again, to the point it is today. The fourth generation of Back is already knocking at the gate: S.

Color: White wine, light.

Nose: Peaches in yoghurt and more peaches in (sweet and creamy) yoghurt. Behind that a mineral note is noticeable, but it is hard to get past the peaches in yoghurt. I somehow have to reset my mind. Second time around, I guess the peaches in yoghurt come forward when the wine is a little bit warmer than it should, now it is colder and it’s more, clean and mineral and with a nice lemony acidity to it. The peaches in yoghurt are still there.

Taste: This is at first pretty sour, but that does not stay, well, it actually does in the sides of your mouth, but right in the middle, a more estery and sweet profile emerges. Perfect balance I would say, but I have to admit that I like my acids in white wine. Not too much, but it is the defining part of the palate. There have to be some good acids to interact with some elegant sweetness to achieve perfect balance. Besides the acids, a light hint of wood and a little bitterness, grapefruit. Finish could have been better, but overall not bad this one!

In fact I liked this one better when it was slightly higher in temperature, so don’t chill this too much. It got more fruity and creamy, and when chilled, it was more clean and…typical. The wine has an ABV of 14%.

Points: 80

Short Stories: Tokara Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2005

Again a wine I had with dinner yesterday. This time a copious swiss cheese fondue in classic style. Into the fondue went a very nice Alsatian Vorburger Pinot Gris 2008. The Vorburger is a biological wine with a great combination of acidity (needed for the fondue) and sweetness.

After the Vorburger I opened the South African Tokara which was a very different type of wine. The Tokara is aged 11 months French oak barrel, with 40% new oak barrels. The taste is completely different, less sweet than the Vorburger. Color was typical white wine, with a slight green hue to it. Nose was crisp, clean, fruity. Lychee maybe? After that the nose became flinty and sour-fresh. The taste was industrial, again flinty, buttery, toasty and meaty. Lots of meat in fact. Meatballs! For me the nose was very atypical, yet very nice, or maybe I should say “interesting”? For me this wine had nice citrus like acidity with lots of meat to it. I found it better with food than on its own afterwards. As an after dinner wine it’s simply to acidic, which cancels out the sweet bit. This will do better as an aperitif. All in all still recommended (and this one is not expensive), just use it well. By the way, ABV was 14%.