Taste of Africa in your glass

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Five years ago, I went to South Africa to learn about South African wines. From my efficiency apartment in downtown Stellenbosch, I was in a great position to visit the wine region of the Cape area. So many good wines. And sadly, at that time, so many of these good wines did not make it to the West Coast of the United State. This has changed.

Recently, I enjoyed tasting three wines from a winery situated in the Stellenbosch Hills: Mulderbosch. It’s one of South Africa’s finest producers, and all of these wines are in fairly wide distribution.

I started with the 2011 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, the wine that first built this winery’s international reputation. With just a touch of Semillion (4 percent), this drinkable wine stacks up to some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted to date. Watch out Duckhorn, this has just replaced your Sauvignon Blanc in my wine-drinking heart.

The winemakers at Mulderbosch successfully preserved the fruit character of this Sauvignon Blanc throughout blending and bottling by using reductive winemaking techniques. The final result is a medium-alcohol wine (13.6 percent) that can easily cellar for up to seven years. It’s a bright lemon-green color with aroma of citrus, lemon zest, fig and black currant and has some nice floral notes, too. The taste is citrus, melon and there are some herbal undertones to add to the minerality and mouthwatering finish. Suggested retail price is $17.99.

Chenin Blanc, the legendary grape of South Africa, is sometimes referred to as Steen. The 2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc is touted as a new wave Chenin and is vinified from low-crop grapes from the Stellenbosch and Swartland wine grape-growing regions. It has a reach-out aroma of guava, lime and ripe pear, with honeysuckle and orange blossom, too. The taste includes tones of passion-fruit and a finish of somewhat tart grapefruit. A nice acidity, creamy mid-palate, and spice from a bit of oak used in the aging results in an accessible wine that is mouthwatering. 13.9 percent alcohol. Suggested retail price is $13.99.

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Mulderbosch’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose just might be the ticket for a refreshing summer wine. I loved the pink color, and was delighted at the aroma of ripe blood-oranges, black currant, cherry and a bit of sandalwood. The taste balances juicy fruit flavors with a racy acidity, and the finish is zesty. 12.5 percent alcohol. Suggested retail price is $11. When you find it, stock up.

Good news is ahead for those who love South African wines, as the 2013 wine grape harvest was a bumper crop. Last year, exports to the USA increased by 37 percent. Your chances of enjoying a taste of Africa in your glass are better than ever before.

 

Search past columns at winebiznews.blogspot.com, or contact Barbara at [email protected] 

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Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.