Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Big Flower Rosé: A Unique South African Wine

The National Flower of South Africa is the King Protea, also known as the Grand Protea, which is the largest flower of the genus Protea, Though it comes in many different colors, it is often said that the pink-colored flower is the most beautiful. The pink King Protea is also the inspiration for an intriguing new Rosé wine.

Protea Heights Farm is located in the Devon Valley, close to the center of Stellenbosch, and in the late 1940s it was the first farm to cultivate protea flowers. Currently, the owner, Ginny Povall, cultivates 53 acres, with 24 devoted to protea. Their flowers bloom all year round and they export many to Europe. Besides growing flowers, they planted vineyards in 2009 and 2010, and now have about 13 acres of grapes, organically grown, including Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvingon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a little Pinot Noir. The 2014 vintage was their first of any size.

As Botanica Wines, they produce Chenin Blanc from a 50+ year old vineyard high in the mountains of Clanwilliam and as Big Flower Wines, they are currently producing a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Rosé. Only 200 cases of their 2014 Rosé were produced and only 6 cases were imported into Massachusetts. Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose acquired one of those cases and I bought a couple bottles there. And FYI, there are still some bottles available there for sale ($19.99).

The Big Flower Rosé intrigued me as it is a blend of 2/3 Petit Verdor and 1/3 barrel fermented Chenin Blanc. It is rare to find Rosé made from Petit Verdot and it is one of my favorite grapes. Not much about how the wine is made is readily available online though It has an alcohol content of about 13.6%. The wine possesses a nice salmon color and on the nose presents bright red fruit aromas as well as some floral notes .On the palate, it is crisp and dry, with subtle strawberry and raspberry flavors, along with notes of minerality and stone fruit. It has some richness, an interesting complexity and a lengthy,pleasing finish.

I was impressed with this Rosé, which goes beyond a simple quaffing wine. It is very food friendly and great for the summer, though I would also enjoy this year round. With its limited availability, few of you will get to experience its joys, but I recommend that you become one of those few.

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