Fine Knorhoek wines lend oomph to opening

PASSIONATE young winemaker Arno Albertyn, of Knorhoek, has set himself the challenging task of making wine that’s not overpriced, is great to drink now and can be aged too.

Overall, he wants it to be enjoyed by “normal people” as well as by connoisseurs.

That’s quite a balancing act!

From the reactions at an opening-night tasting at the new Colonial Kitchen at Bridge Street, he seems to be getting it right.

The restaurant’s Bohemian shabby-chic feel and food with a wholesome hand-made focus perfectly complemented Albertyn’s down-to-earth chat and unpretentious approach to his wine.

“Throw ice into it if you want!

“I produce wine to bring people together and make friends. My main purpose is for you to enjoy it. The three best wines I ever had, I remember to this day as moments when time stood still,” he said.

Local wine distributors WineZani set up the Colonial Kitchen wine list with a focus on boutique, less-well-known and artisan products.

They complement the restaurant’s eclectic style, so it’s a great place to try something out of the ordinary.

The Konfetti sparkling rosé (R45, cellar price) is a fun, pretty pink, dry and fruity wine with fine bubbles. For a sparkling wine, it offers great quality at a good price.

US President Barack Obama sipped on Knorhoek Chenin Blanc (fact!) at a presidential gala dinner on his recent visit to South Africa, so you’re in good company with this well-rounded, rich golden wine (R50). With its tropical fruit tastes and a hint of sweetness, it’s an excellent food wine to balance spicy flavours.

Knorhoek’s Pinotage (R70) is “old school” – big, fruity and well rounded, without the acetone and burnt rubber that put people off in the past, but not a hint of the coffee-chocolate fad either.

The 2009 Shiraz was outstanding and the 2011 tasted this week looks to have similar potential. Smooth and spicy, it’s not overpowered by woodiness (R70). Pantère is the Stellenbosch estate’s multi-award-winning premium range. Albertyn reckons the Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (R125) could age for 20 years, but it’s stunning right now too.

It’s a great big mouthful of full-bodied red with dark fruit, a hint of pepper and earthiness, strong tannins giving it structure and finish, and it cries out for hearty beef or venison dishes.

The complex, full-bodied nose of the Pantère Bordeaux Blend 2009 (R140) jumps right out of the glass. A blend of cab sauv, merlot and cab franc, it delivers full fruitiness, hints of spice, nuts and smokiness, and soft tannins – just outstanding.

And for those who think single varietals are superior to blends, Albertyn points out that a blend gives the wine-maker the opportunity to balance the best-of-the-best in the glass.

Go out and find these wines at selected stores, including Preston’s Main Road and Summerstrand.

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