Home / Awards / Neal Martin reviews South Africa – part two

Neal Martin reviews South Africa – part two

Following on from his February release of scores and tasting notes for South African wines, Neal Martin has just released more reviews in Vinous. Describing the Cape as ‘one of the world’s most dynamic wine regions’, he gave good scores and comments for wines in our portfolio. Please note that not all vintages are currently available in the UK.

Paul Cluver Wines

2018 Seven Flags Chardonnay, Paul Cluver Wines – 93 pts 

The 2018 Chardonnay Seven Flags comes from the oldest vines and was matured in 30% new oak. It has more complexity than the Estate Chardonnay, wonderful flinty scents infusing the citrus fruit, backed by aromas of apple blossom and hazelnut. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, good weight in the mouth and a finish that is powerful and quite dense. I would have liked a little more tension, but this is still one of the Cape’s best Chardonnays.

2018 Estate Chardonnay, Paul Cluver Wines – 91 pts

The 2018 Chardonnay Estate, matured in 33% new oak with about one-third going through malo, presents a bouquet of mineral-led citrus fruit, reserved at first but opening with time to become quite precise and poised. The palate is well defined with a crisp line of acidity, and fresh and saline toward the finish, which lingers nicely in the mouth. Very fine.

DeMorgenzon

2019 Reserve Chardonnay, DeMorgenzon – 95 pts

The 2019 Chardonnay Reserve, matured in 30% new oak for 10 months on the gross lees, has a taut, mineral-driven bouquet of orange zest, quince and light marmalade notes. The taut, linear palate has fine salinity and a very precise finish that is pure class. This is a riveting Chardonnay from DeMorgenzon, one of their classiest that I have tasted.

2019 Reserve Chenin Blanc, DeMorgenzon – 92 pts

The 2019 Chenin Blanc Reserve was picked over three passes through the vines and matured in 20% new oak for 10 months on the lees. It has a clean and precise bouquet of orange pith, light apricot and touches of sesame oil and linseed. The palate is well balanced with a slightly oily opening, zesty acidity and a pure, almost Germanic finish that gently fans out. Very fine.

Glenelly

2015 Lady May, Glenelly – 92 pts

The 2015 Lady May, retasted after several months, has a perfumed bouquet that is no longer disjointed as I found before, offering black plum and bilberry fruit, touches of peppermint coming through with aeration. The fresh, vibrant palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, blackberry and strawberry laced with cedar and mint, and still sappy on the finish. A fine Lady May that should drink well for 12–15 years.

Waterford Estate

2015 The Jem, Waterford Estate – 93 pts 

The 2015 The Jem Waterford Estate is a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Sangiovese and 3% Barbera, matured in one-third new oak. It has a concentrated bouquet of red berry fruit, blood orange, peppermint and touches of espresso and fennel. There is something very Saint-Émilion about this (despite the plethora of grape varieties!) The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins, well-judged acidity, plenty of sappy black fruit and a touch of licorice toward the finish. Excellent.

2018 Single Vineyard Grenache Noir, Waterford Estate – 92 pts

The 2018 Grenache Noir Waterford Estate Single Vineyard has a refined bouquet of pure blackberry, briar and light wilted rose petal scents, all very classy and poised. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit laced with white pepper and thyme. Focused and quite persistent toward the Rhône-like finish. Excellent.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Waterford Estate – 92 pts

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Waterford Estate, matured 36% in new French oak, has a well-defined and focused bouquet featuring plenty of tobacco-infused black fruit that conveys energy and class. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins. Quite structured and maybe just a little austere compared to other 2017s, yet beautifully balanced, with plenty of salinity on the back end. One of the vintage’s more cerebral offerings from the Cape.

2017 Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Waterford Estate – 91 pts

The 2017 Chardonnay Waterford Estate, matured in 22% new French oak for 11 months, has a well-defined bouquet of perfumed honeysuckle and walnut. The palate is well balanced with a lovely lemon curd and chamomile entry and good weight. Quite gras in style toward the finish. Very fine.

2016 Kevin Arnold Shiraz, Waterford Estate – 91 pts          

The 2016 Shiraz Waterford Kevin Arnold, blended with 12% Mourvèdre, has a very Old World–influenced bouquet of blackberry and Dorset plum, quite earthy and slightly ferrous, and maybe just missing a little fruit intensity. The well-balanced palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins and tarry black fruit laced with licorice and white pepper. Drinking now, but this should still afford around a decade of drinking pleasure.