Thursday, February 01, 2018

Tasting at Nitida with winemaker Danie Keulder

A special tasting with the  Nitída winemaker
Harvest is close and we are very grateful to winemaker Danie Keulder for guiding us through many of the excellent Nitída wines including one new one just about to be released. There are some new developments about to take place at Nitída which we hope we can reveal soon
We began at the restaurant on the terrace where we wanted to see if we could see any dragonflies on the dam, which is sadly depleted. We chatted to Nitída owner/cellarmaster Bernhard Veller and to Cassia Restaurant owner Warren Swaffield about the drought and the harvest
Then we went up to the Tasting room where there is a series of small ponds and spotted a mating pair of dragonflies on a reed and a few others
Lynne saw this large dragonfly suddenly career into the pond like a downed Boeing and flounder about, sinking
So we rescued it and are now trying to identify this suicidal specimen
Time to get out of the sun and taste some wine in the cellar
Danie joined us there and we sat down to enjoy the  Nitída 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, tropical, sunny, clean and crisp with a little petillance
Next the Golden Orb unwooded Sauvignon Blanc. This is leesy with asparagus, green capsicum notes, very like a Sancerre in its clean minerality and sophistication. From a single vineyard. Their Sauvignons Blanc have always been on our best list, Lynne insisted that we served it at our wedding 15 years ago
The Wild Child Sauvignon Blanc, which is green, peppery and aromatic, 7% Semillon is added and this nicely softens it a little. A classic
The  Nitída Semillon has the expected mutton fat and lime on the nose, with spice and Chanel perfume. A lovely rounded mouth feel; it is crisp and long and a little savoury
The 2015 Coronata Integration is 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc with classic flavours of gooseberry and elderflower on the nose and palate, with a hint of mutton fat. Delicious, crisp and clean, with some wood on the end from the Semillon which is fermented in new Sylvan oak
Danie loves to tinker with grapes, those from  Nitída and some sourced from other farms
So he has made his own 'brand' called The Tinkery. This year it is a Viognier which is full of ripe apricots rather than peaches, clean, fresh, crisp and crunchy. Nice lime flavours add some refreshing acidity. This is a food wine. It has spent 10 months in wood which is almost invisible, just supporting. Yum
The 2017 Riesling is pretty and surprised us as it is showing no terpenes (a relief to Lynne) at the moment, although Daniel says it will with age. Jasmine and rose water on the nose, classic Riesling flavours, with good acidity and sugar balance, the residual sugar is 12gm/litre, so there is a hint of honeysuckle on the palate
A relaxed and smiling winemaker just gearing up for Harvest, when he will be working from dusk to dawn and beyond getting this year's harvest into the tanks and barrels as quickly as possible. Most people have no idea of what it takes out of them. They often don't have time to sleep, eat, or shave as the grapes come in and they have to be dealt with immediately. And it can go on for a couple of weeks
The barrel cellar
Danie went off to get us a barrel sample of the Pinot Noir 2017. A classic floral nose with roses and red cherries and a whiff of naartjie. On the palate it fresh cherry berry with softness, some lactic flavours, quite lovely. We will have to wait to see how it develops when its bottled
Then we tasted the current vintage of Pinot Noir 2015. It is mature with soft brandy notes on bruléed cherries, nice fresh acidity, long flavours ending with violets. Nice legs too!
The 2016 Merlot is spicy with black cherries, rounded sweet fruit, soft on the palate and warm. No faults, wood supporting and some minerality on end. Not a sign of greenness. Photographed with a wall of the dark clay soil in which it is grown in the background
2014 Calligraphy came next, a Bordeaux blend of Merlot (54%), Cabernet Franc (21%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%) and Petit Verdot (4%). A blockbuster nose with tomato leaf, some faint volatility, loads of berry fruit. On the palate soft fruit, with fresh acidity, lighter in weight than expected, some chalky tannins, drink now
Then a preview of the 'just about to be released' Calligraphy 2015. "Made in the vineyard" says the winemaker. Again green leaves from the Cabernets, a red velvet mouth feel, soft and chalky tannins, black and red berries, mulberries and stewed red plums. The wood is showing well and there are good soft chalky tannins. We were given the bottle to take home and had it with dinner. Wow. Such a good pairing with food, but drinking so well on its own, fruity and elegant and full. Sommeliers out there, you need to taste this wine soon and order. It's a 92 plus wine
The tasting room is also the barrel cellar
The Tinkery, where Danie makes his music. Thank you so much Bernhard and Danie for your time and knowledge and for hosting us
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