Thursday, April 11, 2019

Jacaranda in Wellington, South Africa's smallest registered wine estate

While we were in Wellington, we were directed by Rene Reece, the Wellington Wine Route Liaison & PR, who asked if we would like to visit the smallest registered Wine Estate in South Africa. With only 4.5 hectares, of which only 3.2 are under vines, Jacaranda Farm is producing some interesting and beautiful wines. The farm is a riot of purple when the 90 year old Jacaranda trees are in bloom. They are open 10 to 4 Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday.
We were warmly welcomed by the owners Rene and Birgit Reiser who were both born and raised in wine growing areas of Switzerland and Germany. They bought the farm in 2009 after starting a wine export business to China, where they lived previously. They also did extensive renovations to the property and now have guest cottages on the farm, which you can book. Their big asset is the vineyard of 40 year old bush vine Chenin Blanc. They have also planted Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier and Chenin Blanc
We sat on the terrace and tasted through the wines. First came their 2016 MCC Blanc de Blanc, made from the aged Chenin Blanc vines. Golden in colour and in flavour, with herbal notes, it is clean and crisp with peach and honey on the end. It spends 25 months in bottle and has a dosage added. Their first vintage was 2013. They grow organically but are not yet certified, still awaiting confirmation
The farm has five cats, most of whom made our acquaintance, if from a distance
Next came the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, . Wellington is a very warm area for Sauvignons, often producing quite tropical flavours. No acid is added to the wine and all are low sulphur. This has perfume and herbal hints on the nose, a round mouth feel from 9 months on the lees (unwooded); it is rich and tropical with guava, apricots, has nice length and good natural acidity. A food wine. Rene does whole bunch pressing and natural fermentation. Besides wine, they grow olives, guavas and pomegranates
The 2017 Chenin Blanc is crisp and full of minerality and not the usual tropical Wellington Chenin. Natural fermentation (as with all their wines), gives firm fruit acidity and good balance
The friendly ginger
Rene showing us his new range of labels, which we like very much
Incognito 2016 has one. It’s a blend of 51% Viognier and 49% Chenin and has peaches and Chanel perfume on the nose. On the palate, good fruit acidity to balance its richness, good peach and nectarine flavours; the wine is complex and very enjoyable
Admiring the new press in the wine cellar
They use 300 and 500 litre barrels
The perfect picture of contentment
The Jacaranda 2016 'Salt', an old vine Chenin Blanc, has vanilla honey richness on the nose from the touch of botrytis on the vines, a lovely crisp entry then vanilla oak, apple and quince fruit, with warmth, complexity, minerality and more of that honey on the end. Rene told us that Tim Atkin scored it 90 points last time and has just retasted and said that it deserves more. We agree
The Early Bird Mourvedre Rosé is a coppery golden pink and has come from a whole bunch press, fermented in wood. Vanilla and red fruit on the nose, with classic Mourvedre flavours of soft fruit, umami, and a little spice; it is crisp, very refreshing with vanilla on the end. Sushi and tuna tataki might be excellent with this wine. He sells a lot to the Japanese and Swiss markets
A great new label for the Silver Lining Sauvignon Blanc
Beautiful bright Bougainvillea
The Cuvée Rouge wowed us. It's a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Petite Verdot and 28% Merlot. Dark garnet in colour, with incense wood, rich red berries and, of course, violets from the Petite Verdot. Lovely juicy fruit - raspberries, mulberries and the violets are on the palate too. Gentle licorice wood from the 9 months in oak with some warmth and some nice chewy tannins on the end. A wine you just want to keep on drinking with or without food. We would pair this with meat dishes and rich sauces. It is our Wine of the Week
We are all growing succulents; this is a novel way to do it
And then the 2017 Rebel. Shiraz co-fermented with 15% Viognier. Incense wood, coffee chocolate mocha, violets and black cherry on the nose. Freshness on the palate initially, juicy berry fruit, elderberry complexity with chalky tannins on the end. Tim Atkin 90 points
Which one? She poses so well, it just sells the wine
Jacaranda Shiraz No 47. They have planted 4 different clones of Shiraz, "just to see how they age", says Rene. Spicy with white pepper, cumin and cinnamon, smoky oak, a quite complex nose with Rumtopf berry fruit and some chocolate. On the palate, soft elderberry, black cherry sweet fruit, then good fruit acid balancing the sweetness; complexity, wood in the background, and a hint of violet macarons. A definite food wine. Will age well and last. Tim Atkin gave it 91 points
The Estate Reserve is a blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. This is a classic Bordeaux blend, extremely sophisticated and with the 'right' notes of wood and fruit in perfect balance. The warm alcohol is all that indicates it is not French. Red and black cherries, elderberries and black plums, with some grippy tannins to follow. Will age well, but drinking very well now if you can’t wait
The wine list. We succumbed and bought some. We are so pleased we made this discovery of these wines and these very nice people who are, like us, passionate about what they do in the wine world

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