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A round up of recent reviews and awards

The IWSC 2020 awards were announced earlier this month, and, with a number of wines receiving bronze and silver awards, we were particularly thrilled to see two receive 95 points + and therefore gold medals. Only 12 South African wines were awarded gold medals, so this is an incredible achievement:

2018 Missionvale Chardonnay, Bouchard Finlayson – 97 pts
Very classy wine with nicely judged oak that adds vanilla spice to the tropical fruit and toffee apple flavours. Perfectly poised with crisp acidity and an elegant, long finish. 

2018 Chocoholic Pinotage, Darling Cellars – 95 pts
Bold berry fruits shine against a backdrop of earthy dried herbs. Abundant ripe, juicy blackberries fill the mouth in velvety opulence dusted by vanilla glow. A bruised apple finish is like a deep breath of dusky autumn air. Just divine. 

Darling Cellars are on a roll at the moment, their 2018 Black Granite Shiraz also receiving a platinum award at the 2020 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards, putting them in the top 1% of entries. Both these results are testament to the quality of wine being produced at the estate.

Elsewhere there have been a number of mentions in the press recently:

Jancis Robinson MW has recently reviewed wines from Donkiesbaai and Lemberg:

2019 Steen, Donkiesbaai – 17 pts
Golden straw colour. Lightly reductive and very appealing and complex on the nose. Really lively acidity with a saline tanginess. A little less apple and honey character than typical old-vine Chenins grown further inland. Long and lightly smoky on the palate. Already a joy to drink.

2018 Hooiwijn Straw Wine, Donkiesbaai – 16.5 pts
Pale, glowing orange. Luscious and very rich. To be really really nasty, I’d ask for just a little more acidity (or less sugar?) but Chenin really adapts itself well to this sort of very sweet wine. Mandarin marmalade notes plus softness. A light prune note on the end.

2017 Rooiwijn, Donkiesbaai (Grenache Noir/Cinsault/Syrah) – 16.5 pts
Transparent garnet. Savoury blend with some herbal quality and some salinity. Fairly lightweight with marked freshness. Was this wine too tart to release earlier? It’s very new-wave currently. Real texture on the finish. Very appetising though very different from the South African red-wine stereotype. Some will find it too light – but not the naturalistas.

2019 Hárslevelü, Lemberg – 16.5 pts
Deep glowing gold. Heady, smoky, apricot-skin impression – really fascinating! No shortage of complex fruit. A certain fieriness. Fresh enough but it probably won’t last as long as a Chenin. Fascinating wine – unique. I suspect that little orange grace note is a masterstroke. Very long and far from fat. Looks very smart too.

2014 Nelson, Lemberg – 16.5 pts
Deep glowing ruby. Alluring, evolved, well-balanced nose. Lovely, very ripe but admirably subtle, broachable wine. I’m very sorry it will be impossible to enjoy more of it! Satin texture without aggressive alcohol. Ripe but restrained Syrah. Warm leather notes with a hint of orange. Very smart package. 

Also from Lemberg, Tom Canavan is featuring 2018 Lady as his ‘wine of the week’ at the moment: Naturally fermented with wild yeasts in a gently oxidative style, this blend of 50% Viognier, 29% Hárslevelü, 13% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Semillon is aged on the lees in 500-litre French oak for just four months. It’s a lovely, gossamer-light style, the oak adding little more than a sheet of almond over pristine, nutty orchard fruit, melon skins and lemon rind. Good sweetness and juiciness comes through on the palate, with plenty of fruit, but there’s that lighter, clear, balanced and fresh acidity, and the natural ferment dry and nutty/herby character. Along with its medium body, that gives this an airy quality too. 

And finally, Jane MacQuitty dedicated her The Times column on 2nd October to ‘The great new wave of South African wines’, concluding:

Look out for an old friend, Kanonkop’s 2018 Kadette Pinotage, fermented slowly in open concrete vats before being finished off in oak, all sappy, smoky, scented leather and dried-fig spice. Three pounds more brings you Stellenbosch’s answer to claret, Rustenberg’s 2018 John X Merriman red blend, a mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and malbec with silky, polished tannins and lots of sweet tobacco and cedar.