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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #186 (article first published : 2007-11-8)

Elgin Vintners, the group of six grape growers in the Elgin area, about 75 kilometres east of Cape Town off the N2 national road to Durban, have an unusual label for their wines: it has a logo depicting an open book with the inscription EV.

The book has six pages, one for each partner in the group, and each vintage of their wine is referred to as an edition; Elgin Vintners call themselves “publishers of fine wine”.

The label itself is white and orange, the latter being a reference to one of the dominant colours of the fynbos which grows in the Elgin valley, in particular the pincushion protea.

In the three years since their first vintage Elgin Vintners have used various winemakers to handle their grapes, producing whites and reds with a total output of about 4 000 cases a year. Their best-known wine is their sauvignon blanc. Elgin has the cool climate suitable for this grape. And indeed the weather, the scenery and the wines themselves all remind me of the wine regions of New Zealand, a country which has become famous for its white wines.

The newest release from Elgin Vintners is their 2007 sauvignon blanc. Paul Wallace, one of the partners who is also the viticulturist for all the partners’ vineyards, says this wine is “a stunner”. It was made by Jeff Grief at the Villiera cellar near Stellenbosch, and the grapes used were literally the pick of the bunch (the Vintners use only their best grapes for their own label; the rest are sold off to other wineries who want cool-climate fruit).

This sauvignon blanc is a complex wine. It has the underlying grassy character that is typical of this cultivar, but above that is a whole range of tastes and aromas: green pepper, asparagus, gooseberry, fig, granadilla, tropical fruit. Alcohol content is 13 percent.

This is a wine to be savoured slowly. It is excellent now but should develop in the bottle even further over the new couple of years. Retail price is about R65 a bottle.

Incidentally, the 2006 vintage of Elgin Vintners Sauvignon Blanc is being marketed successfully in Britain.

Elgin Vintners have a tasting room, open for tastings and sales, on Beaulieu farm, just off the N2. Lunches can be arranged and visitors may bring their own picnics. It is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, phone 021 848 9587.

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KWV 10 Year Old Brandy has won a gold medal and a trophy at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) in London and has been chosen there as champion South African brandy.

This year the ISC Awards attracted 745 entries from many parts of the world. Only 57 received gold medals, and only eight were trophy winners. A trophy is awarded only when the judges feel that a spirit demonstrates exceptional taste and character.

KWV 10 Year Old has been produced for more than 70 years. It is a double distilled potstill brandy that has been matured in small French oak barrels for at least ten years before bottling. The result is a full-bodied brandy with spicy and nutty aromas and dried fruit flavours. – Michael Green




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