Friday, July 26, 2019

A day at Journey's End

Journey’s End is high up in the hills behind Somerset West and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village with good views of False Bay and they benefit from its cooling breezes. We were invited there this week to meet winemaker Mike Dawson, taste their wines and have some lunch with a small group of fellow members of the media

First a visit to the wine cellar... taste a tank sample of this year’s aromatic Sauvignon Blanc
Mike was at Steenberg before he joined Journey's End. They have three large Foudres in the tank cellar
A Foudre is a large wooden vat, it can contain up to 300 hectolitres and more
Then into the barrel cellar where we tasted a sample of the barrel fermented Chardonnay

And two pottery Amphorae made in Italy from a special clay
This as Mike says, chews wine and gives a more oxidative character to wine made in it

The sample of the barrel fermented Chardonnay certainly showed promise. They use the very best French barrels
Mikes' lovely dog Addison on the barrels, she has a very sweet nature and is very much at home in the cellar
Back in the tasting room we began tasting their current releases. Weather Station 2019 Sauvignon blanc is very aromatic with green pepper. Crisp, lean and herbal with long flavours, it has undergone slow cold fermentation
  The 2018 Haystack Chardonnay is their entry level unwooded, made with whole bunch press and tank fermentation. Orange on the nose, crisp and lean with some butter and lemon lime flavours
  The 2018 V1 Chardonnay has heady floral aromas with a hint of honey. Round on the palate, then crisp lemon lime and hints of wood, honey and buttered toast. They do whole bunch press, cold stabilisation, put free run juice into 300 litre barrels, 30% first fill. They avoid malolactic fermentation on all the wines
  Next the single vineyard 2018 Destination Chardonnay with Chanel Cristal perfume and incense wood on the nose. Mature softness first, then very crisp citrus, grapefruit & lime with chalky tannins and butter on the end. Wood supports almost invisibly. The wine has a lanolin fatness on the end palate
  The 2017 Huntsman Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier has smoke and dark berry fruit, some richness and has a slight medicinal note on the nose. Dark berries, then dry grippy tannins take over. It needs time. It spends 6 months in tank and 6 months in barrel
  The 2018 Pastor's Blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc is slightly brulĂ©ed on the nose with very ripe dark berry fruit. Grippy tannins on soft strawberry raspberry juice, good grape acidity and is quite reminiscent of a Beaujolais
Winemaker Mike would like to make most of the wines by Carbonic maceration
Winter had arrived in full force. It rained heavily on and off during the day and was extremely cold that weekend
The view from the tasting room. Sadly, too misty to see the bay below

V2 2016 Merlot has a good characteristic Merlot nose, richness of cherry and cassis, which follows through on the palate with lovely ripe fruit. Some lactic flavours chalky tannins and dark toasted wood on the end but it is not intrusive. Made with carbonic fermentation with skin, pip and stalk contact gives the chalky tannins. The 2016 V3 Shiraz is naturally fermented. Spicy sweet fruit, incense wood with cinnamon and vanilla on the nose. Grippy tannins, and sharp red mulberry fruit with rhubarb and more chalk on the end. The final wine will be called Identity 2018 and is a Shiraz which has gone through 100% Carbonic maceration in the tank. Very spicy, herbal and balsamic. with mouth gripping tannins, mulberry and rhubarb fruit

The 2018 V1 Chardonnay is priced at between R150/165. 92% of Journeys End wines are sold overseas
The Gabb family from the UK took control of the farm in 1995
and Roger Gabb was Founder and Managing Director of Western Wines,
which has now been now sold. His son Rollo is now in control of the farm
Outside we found some very attractive Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane) Ink cap toadstools
This is when they are more mature and you can see the ink caps
A beautifully planted indigenous garden ...
... with lots of winter aloes flowering
We then drove up to the manor house for lunch
The more mature Journey’s End 2015 V5 Cabernet Sauvignon had been decanted
Rich and complex on the nose, dark cassis; fruity with long, rather crisp cassis flavours
The 2016 had green leaf cassis which follows through on the palate
We also drank the Cabernet Franc which is savoury on the nose, herbal and aromatic,
lovely savoury fruit, dark mulberry with licorice wood
Just right for the chilly day was this warming butternut soup with nutmeg, served with crisp herb croutons
The main course was perfectly cooked chicken pieces in a good gravy with courgettes, carrots, butternut
and caramelised red onion and accompanied by boiled potatoes with herbs. A simple but very good dish
We could also taste the 2017 Journey's End Chardonnay which has matured nicely, with lovely golden fruit, very enjoyable
And dessert was vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and cranberries on a bed of chocolate soil and nuts
We so enjoyed the day and the very good hospitality. Winemaker Mike Dawson is one to watch
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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