One of my selections from the Co-op Fine Wine rack was from the Thelema Vineyard. These vineyards are just to the north-east of Stellenbosch, under the Simonsberg mountain in South Africa’s most well-established wine region. Previously noted for Chenin Blanc, there is now greater diversity into Cab. Savs, Merlots, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc – and this Chardonnay. The area is described as being cooler with well-drained soils.
The colour was an attractive very pale lemon with green hints. There was a lime/lemon bouquet balanced by a slight oakiness – both delicate and well-defined. This balance was continued in a palate of medium-weight, refreshing acidity and slight creaminess. The finish was long and dry but, as Richard noted, there was a final sweet touch. It was definitely Burgundian in style, the Cote de Beaune Burgundies rather than the riper flavours of further south. It hadn’t got the hard edge I can sometimes detect in south African wines
At a shade over £9 this was excellent value. It would match lighter flavoured white meat dishes, fish and cheese very well.
[Richard: I’ve always liked Thelma reds and this was equally nice, with a touch of distinctiveness – something my choices lacked.]
Assyrtiko is a favoured grape in the Morris and Bolton households. Grown on the volcanic island of Santorini, the grape vines are unusual in that they are trained into circular ‘nests’ to protect the grape bunches sitting inside. This is a recognition of the very exposed conditions of the vines. Images of these can be seen on the Internet.
Assyrtiko (pronounced a-SIRT-ik-O) di Mylos Vieilles Vignes 2014 is a powerful wine at 15% ABV. Served well chilled it did not give much away on the nose, apart from some richness and a smokey hint. The colour was pale lemon with no green present, suggesting low acidity. But, when sipped, the acidity hit was pronounced as was its strength. Only medium in length, to be honest this was a little disappointing, especially after it had been acclaimed by the wine press. My previous experiences with this wine showed that decanting was necessary and it could be termed a ‘second day’ wine – as the acidity levels drop and the fullness comes to the fore. Whilst the acidity was high it somehow lacked freshness and I wonder if its ABV level was in detracted from its finesse.
Okay, but not at the price. Good wine for strong flavoured food.
[Richard: any assrytiko we taste is always going to be compared to the wonderful Gaia Wild Ferment, previously reviewed here. This didn’t match up. Little complexity, despite the ‘old vines’ claim, not very long, too alcoholic, little varietal character. Not a bad wine – well made, good mouth feel, loads of acidity – but I’d have priced it at around £12, not twice that. In addition the WS website gave a lower ABV (now corrected) and showed the wrong photo. Further developments awaited.]
My Desert Island white wines? Rieslings and Chardonnays. You’d think I could tell them apart. Not so.
When the colour is a deep yellow and the nose rich with a slight vanilla/honey edge. When the taste is long and dry preceded by sweetness balanced with acidity and there is weight in the mouth. When everything is telling me a good quality white Burgundy – I declare ‘this is a good white Burgundy’…
… from Alsace. Josmeyer’s Hengst Grand Cru 1999. Only later did it start showing gentle aromatic petrolly notes. But very slight ones.
Beautiful wine, great depth of flavours. Obviously, I’m in need of more practice.
[Richard: very good wine, bought three years ago from the WS (£32). It had that wonderful combination of power and weight you get with an old riesling, despite being only 12.5%. Rich mouthfeel. Hengst is one of the Grand Cru areas which doesn’t allow added sugar, even in bad vintages. From the nose (still persistent three days on) I didn’t think it could be anything other than riesling but once you have decided on an answer (wine was tasted blind) it’s difficult to shift your perception. Bit like crosswords when you fixate on the (wrong) answer. We tasted it with a pungent, marc washed, French epoisses style cheese and it stood up well.]