Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Riebeeck Valley weekend. 3. Meerhof Winery

We met Meerhof Cellarmaster Jaco Brand at the Tops at Spar wine show last week and he invited us to bring our wine club to the farm for a tasting while we were in the Riebeek area. One of the inducements was that the farm, besides having very good wines, has the best views in the valley. Meerhof was bought by Koos van Rensburg and his son Erik four years ago
And indeed they do. Situated high on the pass into Riebeek the farm has views across the valley from the old ox wagon trail
As well as back across the valley all the way to Malmesbury
The farm is high above the surrounding countryside and one has a clear view across to Table Mountain
You can see the vines of Kloovenberg below and the town of Riebeek Kasteel below that. And just below the lawn, which was the ox wagon trail, you can see the remains of what is known as the New Road that replaced the ox wagon trail, and below that the new modern tarred road that replaced the "new" road. Getting down that slope in ox wagons must have been challenging
John managed to capture this malachite sunbird (Nectarinia famosa)supping nectar on the flowering winter aloes 
To enjoy the view across the wheat fields to Malmesbury, you can sit under the shady tree
The Swartland (Black country) , having enjoyed the winter rains, is all emerald green for a change
The farmers must be very relieved. And yellow fields of canola are beginning to appear
The old wagon train had to be carved out of the classic Malmesbury shale which is what the vines have to struggle through
This adds minerality to the wines and good structure. Vines like to struggle
We had a coffee and then were taken down into the cellar. Jaco worked with Du Toits Kloof winery and then for 10 years he was cellarmaster at Piekenierskloof Wine Company, previously Citrusdal Wines, which is a collaboration between Fairtrade-certified grape farmers and Fairview’s Charles Back, before joining Meerhof 2 years ago. So he knows the soils, climate and the grapes that do well in the area. Most of Meerhof’s grapes grow on the Malmesbury facing slopes and benefit from cool breezes that come in from the west coast. This area can be very hot in Summer and you need to know how to get the best out of the vines. Jaco obviously does
Jaco, joined by his wife Cornel, gave us a very good tasting of his wines, some paired with chocolate truffles. We began with the 2018 Chenin Blanc, a classic with dusty golden fruit and minerality, good balance of sweet apricot and apple fruit with acidity. R70. Then a cooked apple 2018 Chardonnay, lightly wooded and easy to drink with nice pineapple flavours added to the apple on the end. R70. His premium 2018 White Blend is 41% Chenin blanc, 29% Chardonnay, 20% Grenache blanc and 10% Roussane. These are blends that we will see more often as our climate warms. The Grenache shows first on the perfumed nose, with orange and some new wood. The wine has a lovely mouthfeel. The Roussane shows next and then is joined by the other grapes in harmony. R150. The pairing with the orange and ginger truffle was a good one
Left to right Orange and ginger; orange ginger and hot chilli, voted too hot as it overtook the wine; Dark chocolate for the red wines; and white chocolate with orange and honey was the perfect match for the straw wine. The truffles were large and rather solid and still in the experimental stage for pairing with the wines
The premium Grenache Rosé has had 8 months in new wood so starts with smoke and rose petals. Wildness on the palate with strawberry and raspberry. The chilli in the truffle masked its flavours. We gave it a high score. R130. The 2018 Pinotage is complex and a little bloody on the nose, with umami Bovril flavours and rich red sweet and sour berry fruit. Needs time. R95
Jaco and his wife Cornel were wonderful hosts
The club members really appreciated the time they spent with us and they also bought quite a lot of wine
The classic 2018 Meerhof Cabernet Sauvignon blew us away with its quality and fruit. Cassis fruit with some spice on the nose. 50/50 French and American oak has been used, which adds complexity. It is a beautiful cassis driven wine, with good blackcurrant berry fruit in layers, lovely soft tannins, and the fruit returns for a long end. We bought six immediately. One to watch, we think good enough to win awards, R95 on the farm. This is our Wine of the Week
The 2018 Arbeitsgenot (Work is Satisfaction) Grenache Noir is paler in colour than most, Savoury fruit flavours and aromas, with rhubarb and mulberry. On the palate, wildness and good fruit, umami from the wood. This is another good food wine. R200. The 2018 Arbeitsgenot Shiraz is rich, full and spicy, and goes bang on your nose with huge fruit. Lacy on the palate, it comes and goes with mulberry fruit and then shows some Italian Super Tuscan flavours. It needs more time to gather itself together, but will be good when ready. The last wine was the star of the show and charmed everyone. 2018 Mooistrooi Straw wine has Hanepoot and honey on the so pretty nose, and honey and good citrus to balance the rich sweet fruit. A dash of salt on the end too. And the perfect match with the white chocolate truffle. R300 for a 500 ml bottle. Would go so well with a rich paté as well as many desserts
What a splendid tasting and thank you both for your time and enthusiasm
So enjoyed by the Oenophiles wine club, whose members bought a lot of these wines

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