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2010 De Toren “Fusion V”, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Vintage: 2010
Type: Bordeaux Blend
Country: Stellenbosch — South Africa

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I travelled to South Africa for my first time in August 2013. I prepared a great deal for this trip through a destination management agent (Margot from “7th Sense” in Cape Town) on all details relating to airport transfers, hotels, restaurants, a rental car, safari expeditions, etc., but nothing could prepare me for the roller-coaster ride that is the South African wine industry.

My previous exposure to South African wines was limited: I had tried a couple of bottles of the famous Pinotage varietal over the years in London but that was it. I had not consumed enough South African wine to form a proper opinion. This first (and possibly last trip) to South Africa was a real eye- and palate-opener for me. South African vineyards, unlike those of the Canadian Okanagan region, are in my opinion, focusing on varietals they know work for their terroir and can therefore target oenophiles in foreign markets.

In separate posts, I will discuss my experiences at individual Franschhoek and Stellenbosch vineyards/wine estates.

Here I describe my first red South African wine, which I enjoyed in a group setting at a seafood restaurant based at the V&A Waterfront: the 2010 De Toren “Fusion V”.

Before jumping into the technical review, I would like to say a few things about this red wine. It’s a wine that is masterfully blended using five popular grapes that are grown in France, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot leading the composition. On this basis alone, I knew it had the potential to make our group of international diners very happy. Although I paired this wine with a meal made of langoustines and prawns, it would better suit dishes made from the exotic game of South Africa, such as slow-roasted Springbok shank or grilled Ostrich steak.

Technical Review

Clear, deep Ruby.

Clean and pronounced. Aroma characteristics of ripened black fruits (plums, cherries), with hints of chocolate and something from the woodlands, like pine or mint leaf. A vanilla note comes through, possibly due to the use of new, toasty oak barrels.

Dry-medium sweetness, high acidity, with smoothened tannins. Medium-bodied with long finish. Flavour characteristics are similar to its aromas.

Excellent and worthy of a high price (>£15.99 per bottle); drink now, with the potential for ageing. This Bordeaux-inspired blend will drink superbly in 10 years. Resist the urge to open it because I am sure it will be worth the wait.

Meerlust Rubicon 2005

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Vintage: 2005
Type: Bordeaux style blend
Country: South Africa

This wine is still quite young and brutish. Heavy unbalanced oak with blasts of fruit and spice. Intense nose, still smells young. The flavours did start to level off after a few hours of decanting, so I am hopeful that this wine will benefit from a few more years in the cellar.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot Blend

Two Oceans – Dagger Point

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Vintage: 2008
Type: Shiraz
Country: South Africa

I tried this wine at a pub with some Thai food. Overall it was nice and drinkable, though it lacked the punch that I would expect from a Shiraz. Not a wine to enjoy on it’s own, but perfectly acceptable with food.

Porcupine Ridge

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Vintage: 2007
Type: Syrah
Country: South Africa – Cape of Good Hope

I was quite disappointed with this wine. Apparently a medal winner in this years IWC, I was certainly expecting more from it. I found it harsh and acidic, which will perhaps mellow with age. Stay away for now, perhaps revisit in a few years.

More info Here.

Glen Carlou

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Vintage: 2005
Type: Shiraz
Country: South Africa – Paarl

Another nice Shiraz with good colour and flavour. It had a pleasant oak finish to it with a hint of berry.

Groote Kaap

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Vintage: 2007
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Country: South Africa – Western Cape

Another good wine from South Africa. The colour was very dark, and the wine itself was quite fruity with a hint of oak. Big and bold and good.

More info here.

Dragon Tree

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Vintage: 2005
Type: Blend
Country: Wester Cape – South Africa

Flagstone Dragon Tree is a blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Pinotage, 10% Merlot, 10% Cab franclinks, 6% Shiraz, and 4% Petit Verdot.

What a combination! Full bodied and strong. Great flavours and smoky overtones.

More details here.

Lategan Family Reserve

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Vintage: 2005
Type: Oak-aged Blend
Country: South Africa – Breede River Valley

An excellent wine, though you will need to let it breathe for a bit to bring out its full potential. Also, I think that it is now in its prime to be consumed. The oak taste is superb and the rest of the flavours are well balanced and smooth.

More info here.

Railroad Red

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Vintage: 2003
Type: Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
Country: Western Cape – South Africa

This wine was OK. It had a sharp taste that most Shiraz have, but it overpowered the rest of the flavours if the wine. I would recommend a pass on this one (but if it is on sale, you might want to try it out.)

Cape Promise

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Vintage: 2001
Type: Merlot Shiraz
Country: South Africa

An excellent dry red wine. It had an nice full flavour with a hint of spice, a good aftertaste and a great aroma.