Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ten year vertical tasting of Neil Ellis Grenache on International Grenache Day

Grenache is a grape grown throughout Mediterranean France and Spain to make wines which show sweet warm fruit with spicy notes. In the Rhône, it is one of the component grapes used in Chateauneuf du Pape. It is being grown more and more in South Africa where our climate and terroir suit it well and we are producing some very interesting and attractive wines from it. Neil Ellis have been growing this for many years and we were very intrigued to be invited to take part in a vertical tasting of their Piekenierskloof Grenache dating from 2004 held, appropriately, on International Grenache day. 
Currently, these wines are made by Warren Ellis, who took over winemaking from his father Neil in 2006. Warren is also the Viticulturist. We started with the current vintage 2012 and while these newer wines are fresh and fruity they show great future potential.  As we got further back to the older wines you could see the character of the wine maturing and getting more elegant and full with softening tannins. They do clearly show their terroir and reflect the climate of the year they were made.  We enjoyed tasting these wines very much. We also did a small tasting of their Rodanos red blend where the base wine is shiraz but the other wines may vary every year.  In 2010 and 2011 Grenache was the blending wine, in 2012 it was Cinsaut. Many of these wines are very food friendly.
The wines we tasted
Neil Ellis welcomes us to the farm
A good way to display wine in a tasting room
Sommeliers, trade and media assemble for the tasting
Neil tells us the history of the farm and the wines
Warren Ellis tells us about growing Grenache. Why does he make it? He loves the grape
The very friendly Boerbul who rules the farm
A rapt audience learns about making Grenache
A very necessary log fire as the day was rather dank. grim and wet
Two braais being prepared for lunch – in the rain, so under canvas
Lots of seasoning for the lamb chops cooking on the coals
Neil adds some more, while Winnie Bowman records the moment
The science of braaiing
Neil with Winnie and Mel Minnaar
A view from the farm under the rainy Jonkershoek mountain. The vines have only just started bud break
Tatiana Marcetteaux, Sommelier at The Taj hotel in Cape Town
Mmmm, lamb chops nearing completion
and being transferred onto the platters
Looking crisp, juicy and perfectly cooked
Don’t feed the hound! But he gets to lick the lamb juices off the grid and finds every last bit of flavour

The chops were served with a good mixed salad and roast potatoes
And were followed by a cheeseboard and panforte to be shared by couples


© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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