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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2004-03-23)

A French woman winemaker will be the guest speaker at the opening of the annual Nederburg Auction, to be held at Paarl on April 2 and 3. She is May de Lencquesaing, owner of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, one of the most famous estates in the Medoc region of Bordeaux.

She will be the third woman in 30 years to open the auction, and the sixth French guest speaker.

May grew up in the vineyard, so to speak; her grandparents were Medoc chateau owners, and as a winemaker she has won many international awards. She has a strong South African connection. Last year she bought a 125-hectare wine farm called Glenelly, next door to the Rustenberg estate at Stellenbosch.

Her Chateau Pichon Lalande estate dates back to the eighteenth century, and the chateau itself was built in 1840.

She is married to General Herve de Lencquesaing. Their property in the Medoc region grows cabernet sauvignon grapes, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, and over the past 20 years she and her husband have devoted much time to creating new French links with markets in the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, although Europe remains their traditional market. They have also examined the potential market in South Africa.

On her farm at Stellenbosch she plans to plant cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and syrah (shiraz) grapes.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Stellenbosch cellar Clos Malverne, a red wine specialist in the Devon Valley area and a well-known champion of pinotage as a component in blended reds, has produced an “Under R40” Cape red blend.

It is called Clos Malverne Devonet Merlot Pinotage Cape Blend 2003 and it has almost equal components of merlot (51 percent) and pinotage (49 percent). It was matured in French and American oak barrels for four months.

The wine has a deep ruby colour and is full-bodied, 14 percent alcohol. The cherry, red-berry character of the merlot is well complemented by the plummy fruitiness of the pinotage. Ready to drink now but can be aged for another two to three years.

Red wine is expensive these days. Here is an unusual quality item that should retail at less than R40. – Michael Green




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