Saturday, January 24, 2015

A day in Franschhoek - 2 La Bri

LaBri Wine Estate
We had an invitation a while ago to visit La Bri, from GM/winemaker Irene Waller, so this was a good time to go and to congratulate her on her recent engagement. She gave us a tour of their very full & busy wine cellar, currently bottling and labelling and getting ready for this year’s harvest. We had a walking tour of the vineyards to see how all the grapes were doing, inspect the new trellising controls, where the canopy management gives the grapes more sun and see the soil conditions. Then it was back to the tasting room for an extensive and very informative tasting of whites and reds

We began with the 2012 Chardonnay, which is golden with hints of smoke and lime lemon marmalade crispness. It will benefit from still more time in the bottle in your cellar. The 2013 is perfumed with golden berries and is lovely. Next was the Cellar Door Blend of 50/50 Chardonnay and Viognier. Full of melons and peaches on the nose, it’s a terrific food wine, with a lovely blend of crisp acidity from the Chardonnay and white peach softness from the Viognier. Her 2013 Viognier is in the restrained elegant style we like; Cape gooseberries and quince on the nose with some nectarine and nice lean crispness, with lees showing first and then, later, ripe fruit appears. Then it was time to taste the red wines

Huge lug boxes full of wine bottles needing labelling
A view of the cellar from above. They are running out of space and the new harvest is almost ready to come in
Beautiful bunches of ripening merlot grapes on the vine
Looking back at the cellar over the vines
Winemaker Irene Waller
La Bri’s upstairs tasting room
Just one of the awards they have won
An early map c.1700 showing the French and Dutch farms from Wellington to Franschhoek at that time
A beautiful view from the tasting room balcony of their parterre garden, the vineyards and the mountains
Some of the current very well designed labels
You can do a chocolate and red wine pairing or a Biltong/Droewors red wine pairing
Time to taste the red wines. Her Merlots are soft and full of cherries and forest floor. Yes they do have nice dry chalky tannins. but they show no green stalkiness or mint. The 2013, which was bottled the previous day, is fill of wild bramble, tobacco and maraschino on the nose, with the same echoes on the palate. Still needs a lot of time but will be a great wine
The 2012 Cabernet is intense with layers of cassis and good wood from its 2 years in barrel. It is supported by chalky tannins and a little smoky wood. Needs time, but is beginning to deliver. Lynne scored it an 18/20. Their Bordeaux Blend, Affinity 2012 made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot has a savoury nose with hints of violet and lots of elegance. It tastes savoury, and is meaty with layers of mulberries and dark cherries. The Syrah is dense and inky in colour, spicy with violets and cassis on the nose with brulléed marshmallow and boysenberries. The zingy fruit leaves long, long flavours of spice and fruit. One to keep for 5 years
Irene very kindly laid on a cheese and meat platter for us, so that we could enjoy the rest of the tasters with food. We also enjoyed the Viognier Natural Sweet, full of honey, peaches and good glycerols with balanced acid and sugars. We look forward to tasting her MCC which she will be degorging in June. It has spend 4 years on the lees and will be La Bri’s first release. Thank you Irene
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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