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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > LitNet Virtuele Wyngemeenskap > Wynforum

A pack of cards!


Peter Finlayson, Bouchard Finlayson, Hemel en Aarde - 2008-09-16

Every vintage is a pack of cards! In 2007 we were dealt the perfect hand and great wines followed. This year has presented different elements and challenges but has resulted in some outstanding wines, particularly sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Having said this, we had to play a tough poker game in the process! It was a testing vintage, unusual in that weekly rains fell throughout the growing season. Strong growth in the vines with abundant soil moisture crafted a generous vintage with surprisingly pleasing fruit. Grapes did display some symptoms of the weather, but nothing to panic about in our case as we applied early mildew control which saved the day.

Our domain chardonnay crop was markedly improved, reflecting against poor tonnages from 2007. The implication here is better supply of Missionvale for 2008. Pinot noir also presented an improved yield, perhaps due, partly, to new vines coming into production. Sauvignon blanc is much the same as for 2007, but quality is very pleasing. The other varieties have managed to present rewarding wines. An overall characteristic will be lower alcohol levels predicted for 2008 wines.

With development comes growth and therefore a necessity to provide a larger tasting room to accommodate the growing increase in visitors from colourful and exciting places across the globe. The Hemel en Aarde Valley in the Walker Bay ward leading up from Hermanus, which is perhaps better known for its small, remote fishing village full of heart and charm, is no secret anymore.

The charm of our old-world tasting facility will continue throughout the expansion with an added area dedicated for a more formal tasting session. Excavation started months ago and we eagerly await completion towards our summer season. We look forward to welcoming all lovers of wine and sharing our piece of "heaven and earth"!

We are excited to announce the release of new vintages available through our agents, various specialist wine shops, popular restaurants and cellar. Our current range includes The Galpin Peak Pinot noir 2006, our Italian/French red blend Hannibal 2005, our domain Chardonnay, the Missionvale 2007, The Crocodile's Lair/Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 2006, the unwooded chardonnay Sans Barrique 2007, Walker Bay Sauvignon blanc 2007 and the Blanc de Mer 2007.

With the fantastic response received for our Blanc de Mer 2007 vintage, I have decided on the 2008 vintage with a blend of 49 percent riesling, with viognier at 22 percent. The rest is chenin blanc (15 percent) and sauvignon blanc (12 percent). The fifth component is just a small portion of chardonnay (2 percent).

Blanc de Mer is probably the only white blend from the Cape which predominantly has riesling as its principal component. This cuvee is distinguished by excellent fruit balance with no single element dominating. It is simultaneously luscious in the mouth, yet clean and refreshing on the finish. Fruit flavours dominate, with kiwi, peaches, pineapple and honeysuckle presenting strong palate influence. Delicious with oysters!

I clearly remember my first tasting experience of sauvignon blanc, a Californian wine presented by a visiting American grower at the wine college in Geisenheim on the Rhine River in Germany. There was one overriding flavour, guava, which stood out in a triumphant and commanding way. Later, at the fledging Boschendal winery, I managed to secure a trial batch of grapes from an old vineyard in the Paardeberg. This was thirty years ago, which reflects how rapidly sauvignon blanc has expanded to its present strength of being the most popular wine in the local market.

Vintage 2008 threatened to be a serious poker game as a result of repetitive summer rains! The question was what pack of cards would finally land on our laps. The season's weather was taunting, and as the harvest drew nearer, no consolation was in sight! Finally, when February did arrive, we managed to
take advantage of the better than expected fruit. In fact, the end result was massively encouraging: full and firm on the palate with a strong fruit melange, dominant in guava, pear, blueberry and citrus; long and confirmed finish with every hint of spice, making it ideal for early drinking.

This will be the 15th vintage of one of our most appreciated contributions to the Bouchard Finlayson label, The Crocodile's Lair / Kaaimansgat Chardonnay 2007. These grapes from the Elandskloof Valley behind the village of Villiersdorp have consistently played a key role in making Bouchard Finlayson Chardonnay the respected and recognised label that it is.

This is very much a terroir-specific wine. Most vintages show enhanced mineral quality which profiles well in best French oak barrels. Fermentation is a classic Burgundian copy where the wine is matured "sur lie" for eight months in traditional 225-litre "pieces" with 25 percent being first-fill barrels.

2007 is a great vintage where clean fruit offers a tight but full-flavoured peachy wine which elicits a hint of oak, vanilla and green apple. A natural match with poultry, casseroles and richer fish dishes.

The birth of Hannibal in 2002 was the culmination of a nearly 30-year wait to arrive at what has popularly become respected as a unique "South African multi-cultivar Tuscan Blend". My first desire to bring Italian cultivars to South Africa had its origin after sailing home from Europe in 1975. It was on the last voyage of the Italian liner Europa where the ship's cellars were being emptied and the enviable opportunity arose to share in some great Italian vintages. It was only years later that it became relatively easy to import the grape varieties sangiovese and nebbiolo into South Africa.

The concept of Hannibal stands by its original design synergy between French and Italian grapes. In the 2006 vintage we still have five cultivars involved in the blend with sangiovese (34 percent) once again playing the pivotal role. Petite syrah (31 percent) now occupies second position, while pinot noir constitutes 20 percent of the mix. The balance is nebbiolo at 13 percent and mourvedre at 2 percent.

An austere vintage with a defined and concentrated age-able character. Excellent structure from small barrel ageing showing nervous fruit with a great bouquet. It is long and harmonious - mature for 2-8 years and appreciate while savouring Italian food and hearty meat cuisine.