Thursday, February 14, 2019

Org de Rac organic winery

After we checked out of Hebron on Saturday morning, we drove back down Piekenierskloof Pass and headed for Piketberg where we wanted to taste the wines at Org de Rac. We were invited there last year to a media day, but were not available as we were travelling. We had meant to come for a long while and Saturday was our opportunity, as they are not open on Sundays. It is a beautiful farm high on a small hill overlooking the N7 and the wheat fields
The wine cellar and tasting room on the side of the winery building
The entrance to the tasting room. It was far too hot to contemplate sitting outside
Org de Rac means “organic from the vineyard”
It was the first farm in South Africa to produce organic grapes and wine from inception
Quiet and cool inside, we enquired about a tasting and were shown a tasting sheet. Many of the wines are in groups and you have to pay to taste each group. We opted to do five of the first group and share the tasting. We began with a lightly wooded Chardonnay which has an almost muscat hint on the nose, a good mouthfeel, rich texture with typical good chardonnay lemon, lime crisp favours, and lingering fruit acid. Then the Verdelho, which is perfumed, has a rich mouthfeel, bitter Seville orange marmalade and crisp acidity
And then GM and cellarmaster Frank Meaker came into the tasting room, recognised us and asked if we would like to taste from some of the tanks and barrels. How could we refuse? They are harvesting, but were not picking that day, so he had the time. And what a tasting he gave us. They specialise in Grenache, as do many of the farms in the area. As Frank says, "When KWV sent the postman with the message in a forked stick, to pull up all the Grenache vines, this area (thankfully) didn't get the message. And it is now one of their biggest assets. He fetched a bucket which we carried with us as a spittoon
First a tank sample of the 2019 Verdelho. Grapy and perfumed with fine minerality, good grapy flavours, almost a perfumed chardonnay. One to watch. Then a tank sample of 2019 Chenin, Hanepoot (Muscat d'Alexandrie grapes with lovely sweetness) to be processed into alcohol by the yeast. It is going to be very good; it already has minerality and complexity. The 2019 tank sample of the Chardonnay is clean, with minerality, and good sweet fruit
Now we know where Jan’s wine is made
Made for his Michelin starred restaurant in France, it will soon be available in Woolworths
On to the barrels. The Roussanne 2019 is smoky and with fruit in waiting, in just two first fill barrels and two tanks, which will be blended later. The 2018 Bakhuis, the flagship wine blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin in barrel has perfume and herbs on the nose, some bitterness, some herbs, limes, lemons on the palate; so interesting. Frank will add some young wine for more fruit
They are using French oak, but also some Magreñan Spanish oak barrels made from American oak
The 2018 clone 470 Shiraz has rich, red and black fruits, white pepper, green leaves
Terribly bitter tannins on the palate and fruit acids remain, but will soften with age
The SH9 Clone Shiraz has coffee notes, on nose and palate. Good fruit, long flavours and bitter tannins, with pepper on the end
The 2018 SMG in new oak barrels has Vanilla oak & good fruit on the nose, lovely sweet cherry fruit on the palate,
grippy tannins, built to last and with a little bitterness on the back palate
Frank is like a gazelle climbing up the stack of barrels to extract his samples
The cellar is scrupulously clean
The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend has blackcurrant and black cherries on the nose and good wood from the Boutes barrels. On the palate, grippy tannins, liquorice. It spends 24 months in barrel, but only one in new wood. It has gone through malolactic fermentation. Then we tasted the 2018. More cassis on the nose, dry chalky tannins, juicy below but cheek gripping tannins. This will spend longer in barrel and then go into magnums to age
Jan's maturing wine in the barrels
Then we went back to the tasting room to taste some of the current wines
Frank Meaker doing what he loves, pouring his wine for others to enjoy
It was an extremely generous tasting and we are very impressed with the wines at Org du Rac. Thank you so much Frank
One of our favourites, which is our wine of the week, was Die Waghuis 2017, a blend of Verdelho, Roussanne and Chenin. Elegance on the complex nose, rather French in style. It lights up the palate, and has that elusive but sought after tingle on the tongue, a great blend with summer peach flavours. Such a good food wine
We tasted the 2014 Blanc de Blanc MCC which spends four and a half years on the lees. Brioche, sherbet, lean limes and lemons as it should be. The 2017 Roussanne was awarded 4 stars in Platter, and 92 Points in Decanter. Shy on the nose, a warm country wine, full on the palate with lots of peach fruit, some mutton fat and the butteriness is from the wood. An impressive wine. Sadly, there is not enough fruit this year, so all will go into the Bakhuis. The grapes for the Sauvignon Blanc are grown by the Louws at Silvermist in Constantia. Full of green pyrazines, it has nice crisp acidity with mango and litchi notes
The tasting sheet. We also tasted two current red wines: The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon has tobacco on the nose with cassis and cherry. Made in refurbished barrels, it has a light toast. Sweet fruit, grippy tannins, long classic Cabernet flavours. The 2018 Merlot has nice clean fruit on the nose, cherry fizz, tannin grip and true merlot flavours on the palate, no mint, no greenness, and it finishes with lots of pepper. A very attractive wine
They serve some food in the tasting room; this is the current menu
The line up of wines
Frank ordered us a platter and, after all the wines we had tasted, we were extremely grateful
John also enjoyed six Saldanha Bay oysters, which he said were very good
Nico Bacon, owner of Org de Rac, also owns the Saldanha oyster farm

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