Chenin Blanc Alert

In the 1650’s, while back-breakingly toiling to create fields at the end of a rutted
ox wagon trail; connecting with the small coastal outpost of Cape Town, farmers
also had to keep their ears tuned for a tell-tale shot ringing out from the heights
of Kanonkop (‘cannon hill’). Repeated by a string of relay-cannons, the booming
signal would eventually reach the remotest inland settlements; announcing the
arrival in port of a sailing ship requiring fresh provisions! Resupply and repair of
the Dutch East India Company’s Maritime fleet, at the southern outcrop of Africa,
was a compelling motivation in the 17th century for founding Cape of Good Hope
as a refueling station; critically positioned halfway between Atlantic home ports
in the Netherlands, and the Indonesian trade colonies of Batavia that lay across
the Indian Ocean and Java Sea. Included on the checklist of ships’ stores was a
need to replenish bottled spirits. The French Huguenot settlers–who had been
enlisted by the Dutch company recruiters–were quick to transplant grapevines
into this untapped agricultural paradise, then sell onboard the finished wines!

It was never an empty land, though; the fertile plains, valleys and microclimates
of Southern Africa have always been an alluring destination for migrant Peoples.
Up until roughly the 15th century, it was nomadic Swazi, Ndebele, Xhosa, Tswana
Zulu, and Sotho who had gradually moved themselves, their herds and cropping
expertise–from formerly traditional regions in central Africa into less-populated
areas further south. Despite a 350-year historical record of profound disparity
between these diverse African cultures and their German, Dutch, French and
English colonial counterparts, inflamed by dark periods of outright enslavement;
the 21st century is witnessing a profoundly revised and hopeful chapter unfold.

The Western Cape Province, including the colloquially titled Cape Winelands,
was one of the now-disreputable ‘white and coloured preferred’ zones during
the apartheid era. The heartland town and surrounding region of Stellenbosch
was no exception to this ethnic segregation; 25-years-on, it has blossomed into
the dynamic centre of the South African wine industry; hosts a world-renowned
university, and most importantly: is one of the leading examples of reconciliation
and ongoing redistribution of the benefits that this rich land offers. As for the
less-consequential pursuit of winemaking—don’t say that to the rightfully proud
local vintners—the homegrown and export market has never seemed brighter!

For this week’s DéClassé recommended winery DeMorgenzon (‘morning sun’),
the property’s name refers to its position on the crest of the high-altitude Kloof
Valley—so their vineyards are the first to see warming daylight. Enlightenment
abounds here, including the delightfully idiosyncratic practice of piping Baroque
music out over the grapes to stimulate development! Carl Van Der Merwe is
among a younger generation of SA winemakers whose modernized philosophy
also includes fostering vineyard biodiversity. The reintroduction of native flowers
and plants, while leaving select areas to flourish in a natural state, demonstrates
an eco-sensitive balance of land-use and a move away from sterile monoculture.
Though the DMZ sub-brand marks DeMorgenzon’s entry-level wines, the quality
of this Chenin Blanc bottling and its approachable price point is an auspicious
introduction that needs little more qualification than: it’s a freshly understated,
somewhat less-honeyed version; nonetheless flavourful, very well-crafted wine!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #429522 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Western Cape, South Africa
By: DeMorgenzon
Release Date: October 31, 2015

Tasting Note
This is a reasonably fulsome, bright style of Chenin with pear, apple, and light
citrus fruit aromas carried along into some subtle, honeyed-nut flavour notes.
Try serving with vegetable soufflé, butternut squash soup or Asian cuisine.

Cabernet Rosé Alert

A designated coastal wine region and historic town, Stellenbosch lies 50km east
of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Three centuries onward
in time and toil from the first vine stock having been planted by European settlers
in 1690, a small, under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed
as vuilplasie (dirty little farm) was gradually converted to a vineyard. Having begun
with a fledgling white wine vintage, the still-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen
a number of development phases of both its properties and wine crafting talent.
Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a noteworthy period of
expanded profile for the brand and now under Adam Mason’s creative guidance,
it continues its significant contribution to South Africa’s revived reputation as a
reliable source of very affordable, terroir-distinctive, world-class wine.

This varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red grapes – the compact,
black berries of the thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvested somewhat
earlier than if destined to be finished as a full red wine, this particular practice
of fashioning Rosé yields naturally high levels of acidity, minerality and brightness
to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a geographic advantage, the vines
are planted in well-drained terrain lying in sheltered valleys below the Cape Fold
mountain range. Cooled by a wind tunnel effect between the surrounding hills,
the resulting breezes guard against the potentially, grape-wilting summer heat.

This very dynamic 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century.
Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming
strategies employed qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the
property have been dedicated to nature conservancy that includes rehabilitation
of wetlands – better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and
wildlife will also continue to thrive.

Local rumor has it that only Mozart was played in the winemaking cellar during
the cool fermentation process of the grapes, perhaps imparting some layered
finesse and playful sophistication into the developing wine! True or not, a great
deal of investment by the vintner has been directed into this attractively priced
bottling, which should translate into you thinking of picking up at least 3!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 ml bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Coastal Region, South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: May 30, 2015

Tasting Note
This is a dry Rosé that’s medium-bodied, full of lip-smacking acidity with ripe
apple, watermelon, strawberry flavours and aromas. Serve this well chilled to
preserve its crispness as an apéritif or alongside summer salads, vegetable
spring rolls, sushi or quiche.