Friday, June 15, 2012

KWV's star on the rise

After conquering Veritas and Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, the reinvigoration of KWV continued this week with the release of the Mentors range new vintage wines.

Head winemaker Richard Rowe, winemakers Johann Fourie, Christiaan Coetzee and Izele van Blerk are doing a sterling job of making wines with definition, restraint and elegance, particularly the Chardonnay while firmly placing Grenche Blanc on the 'next big thing' list.

There is excellence across the range, and the standout feature for this writer was the texture and weight they are achieving, particularly in the reds where the Cape has more room for improvement. Instead of heavy, viscous textures, the Mentors reds offer juiciness and elegance without loss of intensity.

The 2011 Grenache Blanc is a particularly exciting prospect as - if this example is anything to go by - the Cape could be the place to reveal the grapes true potential. Often on the dull side and low in acidity elsewhere, this wine showed vibrant peach and pine nuts with a hint of flint, almost peatiness - a pointer to its often dill-scented signature in the South of France - it was very drinkable.

Richard, an Aussie expat, appeared enthralled while presenting the 2010 Pinotage and it was easy to see why - while showing some Pinot Noir heritage in bright red cherries on the nose, this wine also revealed some savouriness and tanginess reminiscent of Sangiovese which was a great match with the quail and duck at lunchtime. 

The 2011 Semillon showed good tension between richness and steeliness and will definitely reward some patient cellaring, although some toastiness already emerging currently with lime notes not too dissimilar to Eden Valley Riesling.

Johann said that all wines are made as if they will be bottled separately and if something special arises during a particular vintage it is reserved for own bottling - in this case a Cabernet Franc 2010. This wine showed classic pencil shavings and tobacco leaf on the nose and unusual fruit cake richness on the palate, but the alcohol could be a tad hot for some

The reds showed juiciness throughout, including the Mentors Canvas - essentially a Rhone inspired blend - with fruit intensity and spice, while the Orchestra - a Bordeaux blend - was full of classical notes like cassis, and cedar wood but on a crunchy, elegant palate. All showed astute tannin management so thankfully noticeable by their roundness and integration.The Canvas has it all though - balance, length, intensity and complexity.

Marketing man Jeff Gradwell mentioned that exports continued to be a strong performer for them, noticeably Belgium with exciting prospects in Scandinavian countries. Franschhoek chef Matthew Gordon is now ensconced at Laborie restaurant where you can enjoy his deft touches particularly with seafood and, if lunch talk is anything to go by, watch out for Mentors MMC and Pinot Noir further down the line.

All wines are priced in the R100s with the whites starting in the early R100s up to reds in the R300s but still represent good value for money in price:quality stakes. The whole range is under screwcap and would benefit from decanting, particularly the reds.

Meanwhile, KWV Classic NV Tawny Port won the Tawny category and went on to be crowned “Best of Show” at last week's Cape Port Producers’ Association (CAPPA) annual Port & Wine Challenge.


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