Monday, February 18, 2008

South African Wines: Confluence Wine Importers

On my tour of the South African section of the Boston Wine Expo I also stopped at the table of the wines of Confluence Wine Importers. Confluence specializes in South African wines and represents about seven different producers. I tasted wines from several of those producers.

Allee Bleue is a relatively new producer, its first harvest having been in 2006. It has a female wine maker, Gerda Willers. They produce both whites and reds, most selling for under $20. I tasted thir top wine, the 2005 Allee Bleue L'Amour Toujours ($30). This is a Bordeaux style blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 18% Shiraz and 12% Grenache. It was aged in French oakd, 60% new. It has an alcohol content of 15.19%.

I found this wine to have a barnyard nose though that did not follow through on its taste. It is a full bodied wine with bold spice notes, chocolate and dark berries. It had a decently long finish. I think this wine might benefit from a bit of cellaring. It seemed a bit rough to me, and maybe just some decanting would have helped it smooth out.

Le Riche makes primarily red wines in a classical French style but with a South African twist. The wine maker, Etienne Le Riche used to worked at the famed Rustenberg until creating his own label in 1996. The winery is located in the Jonkershoek Valley, just outside Stellenbosch. I tasted the 2002 Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon ($25). This wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and spends eighteen months in French oak. I should note they also make a Reserve Cabernet ($45).

This wine had a rich red color and a nose of fresh cherry with a bit of spice. On the palate, the cherry flavors meshed well with the subtle spice. It had a good structure, some complexity and a lingering finish. Definitely a more Old World style Cabernet. It was impressed with this Cabernet, especially at its price point and definitely would recommend it.

Slaley produces wines under two labels, Slaley and Broken Stone. The Slaley wines are more classical in style, made to age. The Broken Stones wines are more New World style, ready to drink now. Marius Malan is the wine maker at Slaley. They produce both red and white wines. I tasted their 2003 Slaley Pinotage ($30-35). This is a 100% Pinotage from the Stellenbosch region. The vines are about 48 years old. It has an alcohol content of 14.5% and spent about 13 months in wood (90% new oak), 40% American oak. This is a wine that is meant to be cellared for about eight years. It is not really intended to be drank now.

The wine is fairly dark red in color and is very tight on the palate. It is obviously a big wine with elements of cocoa, plum, vanilla, dark berries, and spice. It also has a very long finish. I liked this wine and it definitely has much potential. I would be very interested taste this in several years to see how it developed. If you like Pinotage, it would be worth buying this wine to cellar it for a time.

Stony Brook Vineyards is a small family winery in Franschhoek. They focus on red wines, especially of Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. I tasted the 2004 Stony Brook Camissa ($16), a blend of 48% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Shiraz. It is aged in French and American oak for about a year. This was a big and bold wine with good black cherry and plum flavors with some spicy notes and vanilla hints. A lot of flavor making this a good value wine.

Some more good wines from South Africa. I hope that we see more South African wines in local wine stores and I recommend you give them a try.

1 comment:

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

Allee Blue have been making some cracking Pinotages and have twice won Pinotage Top 10. They've been producing wines since 2001 from bought in grapes; the Pinotage came from a super vineyard in Piekenierskloof in the Olifants River region while planting their own vineyards