Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A visit to Bellevue in Bottelary

An impressive tasting of Bellevue Wines
We have not visited Bellevue wine estate in Bottelary for a while. John does take wine tours there to taste the superb Pinotages; it was where the original commercial plantings of Professor A I Perold's Pinotage were made in the early 1950s. The first Pinotage, made and bottled by P K Morkel, was grown on Bellevue. The original vineyard, planted in 1954, is still producing quality grapes. Pinotage is a cross of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir and is a truly South African grape. Dirkie Morkel saw our write up of Kaapzicht and invited us to come to the farm to taste some wine. So, as we were in the area after our dinner at Rhebokskloof, we made a date for 11 am the next day
The Morkel farmhouse is dated 1803. It is a national monument
The modern tasting room; a restaurant will be opened here very shortly
The verandah which will be used for the restaurant and tasting
A lovely place to relax and enjoy the sun
Pizzas will be on the restaurant menu
We sat inside as the day was still very chilly. Cellarmaster Wilhelm Kritzinger guided us through the wines. Dirkie joined us a little later. We began with the just-bottled 2017 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, made by winemaker Anneke Potgieter. It has granadilla, guava and fig leaves on the nose, and is crisp and herbal on the palate with English gooseberries. It has a round mouth feel, almost as if some Semillon has been added (none has) and is a nice middle ground Sauvignon with both green and tropical notes. R60
The impressive line up of wines we were to taste. We followed with the unwooded Chardonnay, which has had good lees contact and is a bargain at R45 a bottle. We bought 6, we liked it so much. It has a nice tingle on the tongue, is bone dry, restrained and elegant in the French style
Then came the (now rather fashionable grape) Cinsaut 2015, which Bellevue has been making for several years. It is dusty on the nose, but shows lovely raspberry and strawberry flavours and is long and soft, not as harsh and tannic as some we have experienced. We think this wine has a potential to age too. So we bought six, at R70 a bottle
Enjoying tasting and talking about wine with Dirkie Morkel and cellarmaster Wilhelm Kritzinger. We tasted the 2014 Pinotage with its powerful nose; flavours of rhubarb, plums and vanilla from the oak. Lots of fruit, no metallic tastes, dark licorice on the end and some nice chalky tannins. Interestingly, they use French-made American oak barrels. They say they are much better than American made oak barrels
Then the Shiraz, A classic sandalwood nose with bacon and spice; very attractive, a silky mouth feel, beautiful ripe fruit. This is food wine and pumps well above its station at only R60 a bottle

We liked the Malbec too with its wildness (a characteristic of the Bellevue Malbec since we first tasted it about 20 years ago), warm linen, salt, mulberries with a touch of buchu. So fruity on the palate with those mulberries, cherries, chalky tannins, wild herbal fynbos and a hint of maraschino on the end. A site specific wine, says Wilhelm. R100

Then the PK Morkel 2010 Pinotage, their flagship wine. Expensive incense wood on the nose, dark fruit and spice. On the palate, splendid fruit, fresh berries, then Christmas pudding with some marzipan, and some malt. Juicy and silky, so satisfying; this is what Pinotage should be, for us. R225 a bottle. Very good value compared to some others in the industry
We also tasted the top of the range PK Morkel 2010 Petite Verdot . Unmistakable with the expected violets on the nose, they are accompanied by incense wood and pencil shavings. It has sweet berry fruit, tayberries, boysenberries, lots of violets, and the expensive wood is supporting this elegant wine, full of minerality and soft chalky tannins to last, with a hint of licorice drop on the end. R175 a bottle

So nice to spend time with them and taste through these really good wines, not a bad one in the bunch. It has been too long since our last visit

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