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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES No.124 (article first published : 2005-03-1)

Italy seems to be the flavour of the month in South Africa these days. We have Tuscan architecture, Tuscan holiday resorts, Italian cuisine, and now Italian-style wines.

The venerable L’Ormarins wine estate at Franschhoek has turned its attention to Italy and produced two new wines which resemble those from Tuscany in northern Italy. They are outstanding wines --- you might say that even the ranks of Tuscany could scarce forbear to cheer --- and they are evidence of the progressive policies of the Cape wine industry.

The L’Ormarins farm is more than 300 years old. It was originally a Huguenot property, was bought by Dr Anton Rupert more than 30 years ago, and is now owned by his son Johann Rupert. It is therefore laden with tradition, but it looks forward continually, hence the introduction of these “Italian” wines under the L’Ormarins sub-label Terra del Capo, terroir, or soil, from the Cape.

The 2002 Terra del Capo Sangiovese is a most palatable red wine made from the sangiovese grape (pronounce it san-jo-vay-say) which is something of a rarity at the Cape but is used in Tuscany for high-quality chianti. This L’Ormarins Sangiovese is lightish in character, though it has a quite imposing 13 percent alcohol content. It was wood-matured for 12 months, 80 percent of the wine in French oak barrels and 20 percent in American oak. The result is a delicious, slightly spicy and rather fruity (plum flavours) wine that goes well with a wide variety of foods or just by itself.

The dishes particularly recommended as companions to the Sangiovese are tomato-based pastas, pizzas, moussaka, gorgonzola cheese and most Mediterranean food.

It’s an elegant and cheerful kind of wine that would be most acceptable at lunch time, slightly chilled. Or any other time. Retail price is about R62 a bottle.

The second “Italian wine” from L’Ormarins is the 2004 Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio, another grape variety that is not much grown in South Africa (it is the Italian version of the perhaps better known French pinot gris). This is a crisp, fresh white wine with, once again, the accent on elegance and accessibility. It has rather unusual, pear, apple and peach flavours but remains pleasantly dry on the palate. Alcohol: 13 percent.

Recommended food companions: poultry, salads, Thai or Chinese dishes. Retail price about R42. – Michael Green




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