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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #160 (article first published : 2006-10-18)

The many subtle nuances of winemaking are well illustrated in the background to the latest white wine released by the Clos Malverne cellar at Stellenbosch.

The wine is the Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc 2006. The farm says this is its best vintage of this variety to date, and the wine recently won a Diamond Award at the 2006 Winemakers’ Choice Awards.

Seymour Pritchard, who has for many years been the owner of Clos Malverne, says the grapes for this wine came from the farm’s only sauvignon blanc vineyard and were in fact the first harvest from these newly planted vines. He says: “This new block of sauvignon blanc is on the cool valley floor, alongside the largest dam in the Devon Valley. This dam evaporates during the summer months, causing an extremely cool micro-climate, especially at night.

“The new block is often blanketed in mist on spring and summer mornings, resulting in an extended ripening period, and this produces luscious, healthy grapes. We are delighted with the quality of the fruit from this block. These vineyards were cleared of any additional leaves to ensure that the cool evening air could flow through the vines. The harvesting took place at dawn, the coolest part of the day, and continued until no later than 9 a.m.

“Our winemaker and viticulturist I.P. Smit was involved at every step, ensuring that the grapes were picked at exactly the right sugar level and that high quality was achieved at every stage, from picking to crushing”.

It pays to take pains. The resultant wine is a splendid full-bodied sauvignon (13 percent alcohol), with a grassy aroma and a full range of the flavours one associates with this variety: tropical fruit, asparagus, figs, flintiness. One could drink it at any time, by itself or with any food, and for a wine of this standard the retail price is reasonable: about R47 a bottle.

If you are in the Western Cape, Clos Malverne is open for tasting at a charge of R15 a head. Phone 021-865 2022.

****** ****** *****

Whiskies produced by Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard (the French-based liquor company which is big in South Africa), have won seven gold medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.

Chivas Regal whiskies are well known here, and three of the prize-winning whiskies are also available locally, for those who are prepared to pay for the privilege of sipping something rare and exceptional:

Aberlour 10 Year Old, a Speyside single malt, matured in sherry butts and bourbon casks, price here R399 a bottle.

The Glenlivet 21 Year Old, another single malt, deep amber with a rich floral and fruity nose and a creamy smooth texture, R799 a bottle.

Royal Salute 21 Year Old, a blend of malt and grain whiskies. It comes in a porcelain flagon packed in a velvet pouch, and it costs about R1,300 a flagon. – Michael Green




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