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

Agostón Garnacha & Syrah 2013

Bodegas Virgen del Aguila, Paniza Agoston-Jabali lies at the foot of Iberico mountain range in Carinena (a DO), in north-east Spain. The Ibérico mountain range has a wide variety of landscapes and eco-systems. Half is used for vines, the other half is still forest or rocky mountain slopes

Agostón was first made in 2008. The maker calls it “daring, young, fruity & loved by everybody” All wines in this series are blends of two grape varieties. Here we’ll review the “yellow” one that is made with Garnacha and Syrah. The “red” one is made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both red wines are true 50/50 blends. The “green” one (a white Wine) is a blend of Viura and Chardonnay and last but not least a rosé Wine that has an orange label is made with Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. As can be seen, all are blends of a “typical” Spanish grape and an International grape. Very daring and modern…

Agostón Garnacha & Syrah 2013Color: Deep red with purple.

Nose: Fruity and jammy. Very modern and accessible. Not very complex. Extremely likeable, like one likes a lemonade. Bold fruit, cherries, with cream and vanilla. A little bit of dairy, at first some acidity but after moving the wine around a bit in the glass, some typical notes from Syrah emerge. Obviously grapes that have seen a lot of sun. Warm but not dry or dusty. The red and black fruits are pretty aromatic.

Taste: Again very fruity and jammy but here the thick fruits are helped along with some nice acidity. Hardly any tannins to be found. I can’t imagine this has seen wood, although a little bitterness is there, also some vanillin seems present. Although very easily drinkable it will hold the fort when combined with cheeses and meats. Will do nicely too on its own.

Actually a very likeable and very nice wine, that has won some prizes along the way. Still I feel it is a very modern wine. Taylor-made for the modern, fast-forward and demanding market. No fuss, just grab-n’-buy, or buy-n’-drink or drink-n’-forget. Very fruity and just needs the drinker to sit back and enjoy himself/herself. It will not terrorize your conversation or hinder you while apping away on your phone. Nothing overly complex, no talk about tannins or how long you should put it in your cellar. Nice stuff though and not too expensive to boot. Good pick for bars and restaurants. Hip!

Points: 81

Plage du Sud Pays d´Oc IGP 2013

Next up a Rosé wine from the Languedoc region in France.

Plage du SudNot so long ago, Rosé Wines had colours almost like light red wines and were made with grape varieties like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. But the fashion has changed, today the fashion is more about more elegant and more refined rosé wines from the Provence region in France and northern Italy. Very pale Rosé’s with very light old pink colours or even salmon-like colours. Plage du Sud is one of those Rosé wines from the south of France that has that pale pink colour rreferring to the Mediterranean feel from the Cote d’Azur. The wine is made with ​​Grenache (60%), Cinsault (35%) and 5% Syrah to give it a slightly heavier body.

Color: Pale old pink. Very elegant looking

Nose: Lots of aroma. Fruity with peach and banana. Sweet and sour in one gulp. The acidity is very nice and refreshing. Peach yoghurt, but also slightly floral, yes it smells of (pink) roses.

Taste: Less complex than the nose and not as aromatic as expected. Nice balance though. Light and simple. Not acidic nor sweet, keeps in the middle. All is in control and very drinkable. After a while the fruity aroma’s return. Quite nice stuff and nobody should be having troubles finishing a bottle like this. Just relax, sit back and enjoy the nice weather looking at people passing by. Do not sip this, drink this with big gulps, it tastes even better that way. Luckily they also sell nice 1,5 litre bottles 🙂

Excellent example of the modern style, pale looking Rosé wines from the south of France. The colours of these wines are really stunning.

Points: 80

Gabbiano Solatio Toscana IGT 2011

The surroundings of Tuscany in Italy are breathtaking, and I know that people who live there should be inspired too. I expect wine makers in Tuscany must be especially inspired since they make wine from the fruits of this land. This is the fourth bottle from this region, amongst others with two decent reds, but up ’till now, not a real stunner yet. I now got a bottle from a real wine specialist so I have high hopes for this Gabbiano Solatio from 2011 (Picture shows the 2010 vintage). I like the label, the orange color really stands out on the shelves and the knight and the sun, really look appealing, The wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Sangiovese. Not a lot of Sangiovese for a Tuscan blend, and compared to others no Merlot. That leaves more room for the character grapes of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I guess we may be on to something…

Gabbiano Solatio Toscana IGT 2011Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Smells spicy and most definitely of Syrah and a bit less of Cabernet Sauvignon, no sense in mentioning the Sangiovese. Although Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon can be pretty full-bodied, this blend smells fresh and lively. Sweet jam of red fruits, and the slightest hint of fresh acidity, yes all that on the nose. It leaps out at you from the glass. Very appealing, and appetizing fruity Wine. Strawberries and cherries, ain’t that lovely! Great balance. The nose alone is way better than the previous contenders!

Taste: Not heavy, but with a fair amount of body and soft tannins. Some slight wood influence matches the tannins. Not as heavy on the sweet fruits as the nose suggested, but very appealing never the less. I did suit our dinner fine, grilled chicken with rice and a creamy tomato sauce. It would have been less complementary to it, if it would have been much sweeter.

Just like the other Tuscan Red Wines I review earlier, this is an entry-level wine. Nothing very fancy, but even with pizza and pasta I’d like to drink something I really like without breaking the bank. A great Tuscan with easy drinkability and easy food pairing qualities, and in the first 24 hours after opening, very suitable for drinking by itself. Good one. Recommended!

Points: 85

Ogier Caves des Papes Les Caprices d’Antoine Côtes du Rhône 2010

And here is already the last one of our trio of Ogiers. This time a more modern blended Côtes-du-Rhône made as a tribute to Antoine Ogier, the founder of the Ogier Caves des Papes Winery, located in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Les Caprices d’Antoine is made of classic Southern Rhone varieties like Grenache and Syrah, supplemented with smaller amounts of Carignan and Mourvèdre, making this a Southern Rhône blend (GSCM). Funny enough these are all to be found in a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine except for Carignan, which isn’t allowed! Carignan is mostly found in Rioja-wines (in Spain it is called: Mazuelo). Carignan is mostly used to give extra body and a deep color to wines. The wine was aged somewhere between 6 to 8 months in French and American oak barrels. The wine has 14,5% ABV.

Color: Dark ruby-red with a purple and / or violet edge.

Nose: Recognizable nose of a Rhône-wine. Immediate balance and young. Again at first not very heavy. Typical of Ogier. It has vanilla from the American oak, and even a slight sourness like yoghurt. Warm earth, licorice (also from Carignan), spicy wood and lots of red fruits. Red apple skin, with raspberry and hints of strawberry. (I said it was modern didn’t I?)

Taste: Fruity and acidic. Soft tannins that hardly dry the palate. Again a light style Ogier. Licorice stays a wee bit longer on the palate. Medium finish that is quite simple. Definitely a simpler wine than the two I reviewed earlier. Very typical for this wine is the thick licorice note it has, and a slight hint of bitterness that gives the finish some character, but I would have preferred some more fruitiness.

Recommended with meat and cheese, well which red wine isn’t these days. For me it is more a sort of daily drinker type of wine that doesn’t need your attention all the time. It’s good, but nothing extraordinary. I hope Antoine wasn’t like this, although the wine is not bad.

Points: 80

Ogier Caves des Papes Crozes-Hermitage Comte de Raybois 2009

Another red wine, another Ogier. Crozes-Hermitage lies in the northern part of the Rhône wine region and has a continental climate. Nearest town being Tournon-sûr-Rhône, where Châteauneuf-du-Pape is located more to the south near the town of Avignon, which has a mediterranean climate.

Where the previous Ogier was a Châteauneuf-du-Pape made with four grape varieties, this Crozes-Hermitage is a 100% pure Syrah. That in itself is a no-brainer since Syrah is the only red grape allowed for this appellation, or isn’t it? Strange enough two white grape varieties are allowed for use in the red wines (up to 15%). These are: Marsanne and Rousanne. Since this wine is all Syrah and the Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blended wine of four grape varieties, I expect this wine to be rather different, albeit a Rhône wine. Syrah is a ballsy grape variety, which usually adds black and blue fruit flavors, chocolate and pepper, but knowing Ogier, this example might be lighter in style than its colleagues…

Color: Deep dark, very dark, red.

Nose: Vanilla and clotted cream. Somewhat closed, smells like a cold wine. Smallest hint of fish. (Should I be writing this? Don’t worry it’s inoffensive). After holding it in my hand, swirling it a bit, an explosion of aroma’s. Nice rich typical Syrah, warming. Hot stones. Spicy yet supple (yes still writing about the smell of it, and it smells, well…, supple). A little bit of dry but fresh uncut grass, and field flowers with strawberry jam. Nice dark fruits emerge from the jam. Nice stuff this, quite complex and interesting.

Taste: This has some more tannins than the Châteauneuf-du-Pape I reviewed last. It dries the tongue and it is a bit austere. It has the, by now typical,  Ogier lightness to it. Syrah can be very heavy, but this Syrah just isn’t. I just poured it, it is light with a light finish and a nice acidity counteracted with some butter. With some breathing it should get better. It’s a bit like Metallica played by a Finnish string quartet. After some breathing and even taking big gulps, the wine actually doesn’t get any “heavier” It just is a lighter style of Syrah, which compared to the nose, is quite simple and easy.

No pepper nor chocolate for me, so this one should be aged further in the bottle, to get the pepper out. Syrah without this most probably is young and needs more time. Leave it alone for at least five years again, but in my opinion it should age even longer than that.

Points: 84

Ogier Caves des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reine Jeanne 2010

Let’s continue with another red wine. This is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Ogier Caves des Papes. Not to be confused with the Ogiers from Côtes Roti.

Christophe Ogier had a wine shop established in 1859 called Ogier et Fils. In 1872, his son Etienne took over the company and he passed it over to his grandson Antoine in 1914. In the 1950’s the company joins with Bessac Caves des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Their combined estates are all located around Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

This example of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is built around the four well-known grape varieties for the appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache (versatile, easy to use and adds rich fruit flavors), Syrah (ballsy, adds black and blue fruit flavors, chocolate and pepper), Mourvèdre (spicy, leathery, gives the wine a dark red color) and Cinsault (perfumy and floral). Grenache and Syrah (and Mourvèdre) being the most popular for the region and this type of blended wine. The wine has had some ageing in oak barrels and boasts a hefty 15% ABV.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Creamy and very fruity. Red fruits and prunes. Hot butter and warm earth. Vanilla and utterly balanced, otherwise light. It has some sweet-smelling oriental spices, most definitely some ginger and hints of licorice. Small hint of meat(loaf). Great overall perfume.

Taste: Again light, not very tannic, but still a mouth full, and a little bit drying. Licorice. Deep terroir and only slightly acidic. Medium finish with the licorice sustaining. A bit mysterious. Already needs decanting for its full aroma to show, but after some breathing (also in the glass) a very good and aromatic wine.

Very nice and somewhat light Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Today a very inoffensive wine but with a lot of quality to it. Extremely drinkable but not to be taken with heavy foods. Sometimes almost an aperitif wine! I think the wine should be aged further for at least five years. It will improve, but in which way it will develop is hard to predict. Lovely wine, but could have been better with some more body, a little bit more meat on the bone, but the meat this is there is pretty good mind you! Let’s hope it will get more body from the additional ageing. Very nice wine nevertheless.

Points: 87

Thanks Richard for the wine!

Villa Antinori Toscana IGT 2007

The history of the Antinori family dates af far back as the 12th Century, when Rinuccio di Antinoro produces wine at the Castello di Combiate near Croci di Calenzano, outside of Florence. The particular wine I’m reviewing today, Villa Antinori, was first made in 1928 and at that time it was a Chianti, but a Chianti that could be further aged. Much later, in 2001, Piero Antinori, reworked this wine into a Tuscan IGT. The wine itself is a Super Tuscan blend: with 5% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and of course 55% Sangiovese. After the malolactic fermentation the wine was aged in French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels for one year. ABV is 13.5%.

Villa Antinori Toscana IGT 2007Color: Dark ruby-red

Nose: Spicy and fresh, seems young although it does have some ageing under its belt. Some warm very aromatic Tuscan soil, nice! It has its roots firmly in the ground. Warm summer wind late in the evening. Nice red fruits, cherries, blueberries and slightly herbal with a little bit of wood to give it some more character. Nicely balanced wine. Lovely wine with sometimes some whiffs of field flowers.

Taste: Very supple and extremely easily drinkable and delicious. Again some terroir, but not as much as the nose had. Well integrated blend, everything seems to fall in place. Nice depth. Not very tannic, though there is some drying sensation on the tongue and it’s only slightly acidic, but the acidity increases after some more breathing. Breathing also gives the wine something of a bite, bitterness that is, from the wood. The finish is all right and half-long.

This first accompanied food and when that became to spicy, it easily overpowered this wine. The wine itself seems quite light at first, but it did pick up after more breathing. Recommended drinking window for this wine is said untill 2014, so if you have this lying around it’s now probably at it’s best, but I feel still can handle another couple of years…

Points: 83

Château La Clotte-Fontane Crémailh 2007

After quite some Beers, time for another Red Wine in what turns out to be my 250th post. I’ve noticed that a lot more Whites got a chance on these pages than reds. Yet after this Château La Clotte-Fontane the next Wine will probably be a White (again) from one of my favorite regions, but more about that later. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and have a look at his Red Wine from Languedoc. Languedoc is a Wine region in the southernmost part of France. It probably is the region that is the fastest growing in popularity by improving itself annually. Not so long ago, it was probably known only by the vast amounts of Wine produced and not especially for its quality. But as said before, that is rapidly changing.

The domaine is situated near Salinelles, between Nimes and Montpellier and spreads over 130 ha and has two types of soils. One, on the sunny eastern side, contains large pebbles. The second is rather flat and is made up of clay and limestone.

Château La Clotte-Fontane Cuvée Crémailh AOC Coteaux du Languedoc is a Red Wine with an ABV of 13.5%. It is made with two grape varieties: 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. The Wine ages for 12 months in new French oak barrels in an underground cellar. Next to this Crémailh, the domaine also produces two other reds: Mouton La Clotte and Mathierou, but also one Rosé and one White.

Color: Intense deep red, almost black. Lets only sunlight through.

Nose: Deep and brooding, dry earth, from the clay and limestone soil. Quite modern, stylish. It presents itself as heavy, with its almost black color, but it really isn’t. Some hints of cacao and vanilla. Some fresh oak. It is almost like sharpening a pencil. The fruits are deep and sugared (not meaning sweet), plums come to mind, dried ones too. Excellent.

Taste: Full but not intense. It will probably accompany a red meat dinner perfectly, but drinking this on its own will most certainly do. Not heavy on the tannins, slightly acidic and warming. On the back of my tongue some hints of black pepper ánd clove, which gives the wine a nice ‘effect’. Fruits are more the usual reds: raspberry and essence of cherry.

After this Crémailh I’m definitively interested in the other two reds La Clotte-Fontane produces. This Crémailh is very tasty and well made. The added bonus is in the complexity (not overly complex, but there is a lot happening here) and the detail of the wine. Well done. Drink it now, it’s at it best.

Points: 87

Santa Cristina Toscana IGT 2009

This is a widely available inexpensive blended wine from Cortona (an Etruscan settlement) in Tuscany, Italy. The first bottle of Santa Cristina saw the light of day in 1946 right after the second world war. The wine then was made by Marquis Niccolò Antinori. In 2006 a new winery was opened.

The wine is made of 60% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. 13% ABV. The various grape varieties of the blend are fermented separately and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel. Harvesting of the grapes takes place in September and October, Merlot being harvested first. Ageing takes place from the end of winter through spring and by the end of spring the wine was bottled.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Creamy, with notes of hot dry earth. Soft notes of raspberries and other ripe red fruits. Ripe because it comes across as soft, and doesn’t have a lot of sourness to it. Lots of strawberry jam.

Taste: Again the strawberry jam and it does have some acidity. Nicely blended to a balance. It’s quite light and lively, but on the other hand nothing really pops out, and it does have a short finish. As I said, easily drinkable, but also easily forgotten. Still I like this, just don’t expect too much. Nicely priced also.

It’s blended to a soft wine, that is very easy drinkable, and will go with anything. Just stay off game. The nose is light and balanced, but very nice, you can imagine the surroundings in summer, where the grapes are grown. It certainly shows where it comes from. The taste however is a bit more anonymous. It’s well made, and it will not repel anyone, as there are no obvious faults. The only thing that disappointed me a little was the finish, it breaks down a little, and is quite short and again anonymous. One to have a lot of fun though and it isn’t going to break the bank. good with food and for carelessly sipping away on the couch.

Points: 80