Posts with the label "grenache"


Rhône 2018

Rhône 2018

Monday 7th October 2019
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Generalising about the 2018 Rhône vintage is difficult. Where it was a small crop it was tiny and where it wasn’t it was big!

Equally paradoxical is the style of the wines – some of which are really attractive and seductive now, others are blockbusters that will require great patience.  Nor do these differences divide neatly into the Northern or Southern Rhône.   What is clear, though, is the pattern of the season: 2018 started with an intolerably prolonged wet period in Spring that was ended by a long bout of hot, dry weather that began at the end of June; there was an extremely hot August and finally a harvest period that was very warm throughout. One grower I spoke to described 2018 as “tropical.”  Low yields or high, 2018 produced rich, ripe grapes that were in tip top health. Alcohols and tannic structures were relatively high and acids low. There are plenty of delicious wines to seek out, but whether they are for keeping or drinking before 2017s, 2016s and 2015s varies from Domaine to Domaine – I have given a general idea below and will go into even more detail in our Rhône offer that will be launched on the 20th November. 

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 2)

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 2)

Wednesday 10th April 2019
by Mark Dearing

Ten years ago, there were just four single-varietal Cinsaults on the market. Eben Sadie’s Pofadder, from schist soils around Riebeeck Casteel, was the most famous then, and probably still is now. 

However, today there are at least forty straight Cinsaults on the market and based on what I tasted, this feels like a sensible development. Not only is Cinsault accustomed to hot weather and dry conditions, it is a high yielding variety and regarded now as one of the main reasons why the Cape red blends of the mid-twentieth century have aged better than their modern Bordeaux-style counterparts. When delicately handled, Cinsault can be red fruit forward, spicy and succulent, with an authenticity built on tannin rather than acidity. While some examples, such as “Pofadder” manage to straddle complexity and depth with dancing aroma, most are best when produced in a primary, light and fruity style where the natural tannic grip stops short of astringency. A renewed focus on Cinsault in general means that the vineyards are generally either very young or very old (and thus increasingly hard to come by) as the unpopularity of Cinsault in the latter part of the twentieth century meant that new plantings ground to a halt. My preferred examples were Duncan Savage’s silky Follow the Line 2017 from alluvial soils around Darling and Blank Bottle’s My Koffer 2017, produced in homage to Tassenberg – a cheap Cinsault they drank lots of as students. The name My Koffer translates as “my suitcase” and represents the memories of the good-old-days stored within. From a vineyard in the Breedekloof, just outside Paarl, in a region dominated by co-operatives, this Cinsault is a wilder strawberry, herbal-spicy affair. Donovan Rall’s as yet unreleased 2018 from a vineyard on the border between Swartland and Darling is an incredibly satisfying juicy example aged for just 6-7 months in a combination of concrete and barrel.