The season for masterful, mellow blends

Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard
Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard

The English poet John Keats called it the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friends of the maturing sun” – with its colours and moods, autumn suggests a shift from summer’s zesty sauvignon blancs to something richer, riper, more mellow.

A good start would be The Revenant from False Bay Vineyards, in which the sauvignon’s acidity is mellowed with the addition of chenin blanc, a blend that made the Loire region of France famous, and now made by a Frenchman in South Africa.

Paul Boutinot refers to himself as the “custodian”, rather than owner, of False Bay Vineyards, his first venture in his adopted homeland in 1994, and the biodynamic vineyards of Waterkloof which he acquired in 2004.

The typical sauv-chenin Loire blend was the first wine he made as a winemaker in France and he’s now revived it in his new home with Waterkloof winemaker Nadia Barnard taking a similar approach to his original in this “rediscovered” blend – whole-bunch pressing, wild fermentation and ageing on the lees all adding to the rich complexity of the wine.
It’s just lovely, and a perfect autumn wine – delicate freshness, chalkiness and fruit on the nose carrying through to the palate, underlying minerality on the finish; a balance of gentle creaminess and a touch of sour tanginess. The two components bringing out the best of each and create a wine of complexity without heaviness (R95 from Waterkloof).

Released just in time for the chillier weather, winemaker Justin van Wyk has been eagerly anticipating unleashing the 2013 vintage of the Constantia Glen FIVE Bordeaux blend, as that year’s cool dry conditions in the vineyards just below Constantia Nek held much promise of optimal ripeness and “grapes bursting with concentrated flavour”.

I have only one word for this wine – WOW! A five-way blend, led by cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc in equal parts, this is just an excellent example of the integration of the best qualities of each varietal and how they fill in each other’s “gaps” and complement one another.

It’s not a cheap date, at R370 direct from Constantia Glen, but totally worth it.