Rudiger is the wine maker at Boekenhoutskloof, a boutique operation at the far end of the Franschoek valley. He first cracked open two Semillons for comparison both from a small vineyard strip and well worth trying if you can get hold of them. The younger, a 2006 I believe, was deliciously fresh and vibrant compared to the elder bottling from the 2003 vintage that had developed plenty of honeyed, waxy complexity that, incidentally, worked beautifully with my tempura starter.
(Photos of the food are on SpittoonExtra).
In the wide ranging discussion – everything from the state of the UK wine trade, through to the importation of bottles and cooks – Rudgier also explained his own thoughts that blends would rise to be the ‘spearhead’ of South African wines. His current fascination with Southern Rhone/Languedoc styled blends stemmed from a recent in-depth trip though the vineyards of Southern France. Boekenhoutskloof is also well advanced in its plans to embrace bio-dynamic wine making. Rudigier’s passion for these ideals had us all convinced that ‘everyone’ should follow such practices.
Surprising though to find Cabernet Franc also seems to be a champion variety for Boekenhoutskloof – Rudiger was not the last wine maker during the trip to mention this.
Other wines sampled included a mint-edged Syrah (although my fellow tasters didn’t really agree with me on the mint aspect so that might be down to the deep fried mint that my main dish – Quail – came garnished with). The style was aging rich but restrained with an edge of peppery chocolate.
The star wine for me was the Chocolate Block – again reaffirming my belief that blends work better than single varieties (talking red wine in general here and not just South African wines, although it holds true here too) – but for a Rhone inspired blend the addition of a little Cabernet Sauvignon was unusual. But it works. The wine a blend including Viognier was a cross over in style taking in the new worlds natural ripeness and the old world’s structure.
Pinotage though is not seen by Rudiger as being the standard bearer for South Africa that many think it should be. To paraphrase -you start with poor quality grapes and you end up with poor quality wine. Pinotage vines are often stated as being of poor quality and of poor parentage.
Wine Tasting Note: Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Stockist: SA WinesOnline Price: £18.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Syrah 55%, Grenache Noir 20%, Cabernet Sauvignon 16%, Cinsault 5%, Viognier 4%. Production just 586 barrels. 14.5% Alcohol.
Served slightly chilled in the warmth of South Africa I also chilled it briefly back in a, significantly cooler, UK to the wines benefit.
Scribblings Rating – 94/100 [4.25 out of 5]