Thursday, March 12, 2020

Harvest at Meerendal and a taste of some older Shirazes

Another tempting invitation to a Harvest Celebration, this time from Meerendal in Durbanville with an opportunity to pick grapes, a chance to taste some of their older Shirazes, starting with one from 1987. We arrived just before 10 and were welcomed with some canapés and coffee or tea, or a glass of Sauvignon blanc, for which there were few, if any, takers at that earlyish hour
The canapés
Then, those who were willing were whisked off to the Shiraz vineyard to pick some bunches of this marvellous grape
To see a bunch as large as this is rare, but very impressive
Water for the thirsty or for hand washing
Viticulturist Altus van Lill told us about the vineyard. The cover crop is blue lupins, which they top off
and then mow into the earth between the vines; the lupins then self-seed each year and provide good nitrogen to the soil
They do not use any insecticides, but do use bugs that control pests in the vineyards
None of the Meerendal vineyards is irrigated; they never have been, the vines have to send their roots down
to seek water in the clay layers below, which helps them to survive in dry years
He shows the novices how to pick the grapes and instructs us that we should not include any leaves in the picking,
they give bitterness to the wines
And so we begin. The grapes were full of sugar and ready for picking
Note the wooden, not plastic, lug boxes
A load in one of the boxes. We did remove the dried leaf fragments
Photo time. Nick is the son of owners Herman and Aletta Coertze and is a trained Marine biologist
In harvest season, he assists in the Meerendal Wine Academy
Back to the winery to find that more media and trade people had arrived for the tasting
Christine Rudman, Platter taster and wine judge, also ex principal of the Cape Wine Academy,
Journalist David Biggs and Philip van Zyl, Editor of the Platter Wine Guide
On display, some of the current Meerendal wines; Interesting to see the Pinot Noir in Magnum
Jovial Bennie Howard CWM is the Marketing Manager of Meerendal; he organised the day
Something new from Meerendal. They have produced an MCC bubbly, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
which has spent 17 months on the lees. Bready and yeasty on the nose, the Pinot shows the most with strawberry notes
A good mousse, dry, with strawberry repeated on the palate, ending with crisp lime flavours
We were the first people to taste it and we were each given a bottle to take home
A happy Winemaker Lisa Goodwin who thinks it will be a very good harvest. Quality and quantity are up
Bennie does Sabrage on the first bottle ...
... a success, to loud applause
The older, white-bearded, lads in the industry have their photo taken by another older white-bearded lad!
Duimpie Bayly, David Biggs, Bennie Howard and Dave Hughes
Time to taste the wines. The first grape varietal on Meerendal was Shiraz,
planted by Kosie Starke back in the 1930s and it was the mother block for nurseries
Meerendal owners Herman and Aletta Coertze
Bennie read us some history from the book on the history of Shiraz in South Africa
by Dave Hughes, Phyllis Hands and David Kench
At some point Shiraz found its way into the iconic KWV Roodeberg red blend (1949-1970)
Originally made from Cabernet and Cinsault, the Shiraz undoubtedly contributed to its huge success
The wines to be tasted
First four poured and we begin the tasting. The 1987, garnet in colour, had pale edges. Dark bruléed cherry fruit on the nose with some spice, familiar, not faulty, and then mulberries appear. Soft, silky and smooth in texture with warmth, dark plums and caramel, followed by some acidity. A long cork in very good condition
The 1989 had hints of wood, with beetroot and cassis on the nose. Even better texture than the '87 the wine still has some chewy tannins, then silk. Cassis cherry blend, good acidity remains with good fruit and warmth. This still has aging ability
The 2006 Shiraz has a great nose, a saucy little minx! Dark fruit, very attractive, draws you in. Mulberry, black plum and black cherry with a hint of banana. On the palate, the same fruit with salty licorice, spice and pepper. It has a huge concentration of flavour and its lasting. Silky in texture too. 18/20
The 2018 Shiraz has wood shavings, coconut and beautiful restrained fruits like cherry and plums. Coffee wood, lively fruit, spice, alcohol holding together for the future. Dark cherry, grippy pomegranate, some chalky tannins and long flavours. Ready to be released soon. Could cellar well
Then it was time for the Meerendal Cape Blend 2019, an interesting blend of Pinotage and Shiraz. The Pinotage  component contains some that has been through ripasso and other portion that is amarone; 10% is from Heritage old vines and its been in new French Oak for 10 months. On the nose, a melange of berry fruits, rhubarb, cherry, bruléed wood and a hint of incense. On the palate, Wow! A spicy fruit blockbuster hit at first, but there is some elegance too. Chewy tannins, chalk, curry spice, and flavours of blackberry wine with warmth
The Coertze family enjoying the tasting 
The Meerendal 2019 Pinotage Blend has spice, smoke, banana, maraschino cherry and almond paste on its very complex nose
Clean, clear fruit, lots of teeth gripping tannin, plum and berry fruit. This interesting wine needs time
but shows lots and lots of potential. 45% ripasso, 20% amarone, 20% old barrels and 15% Pinot Noir
Winemaker Lisa Goodwin tells us about the winemaking process and the blends
The WOSA girls; Communications Manager Maryna Calow and CEO Siobhan Thompson
The man in charge of the Old Vines Project, Andre Morgenthal
The way to store old wines
Amused - Cathy van Zyl MW, Christine Rudman CWM, David Biggs and Dave Hughes CWM
Lucille Botha of Landbou Weekblad getting that WhatsApp out and happily tasting the wines
Trudie Webb, News Editor of Wine.co.za
Contemplating a goood wine!
The two famous Daves enjoying the tasting. Dave Biggs, still writing his column Tavern of the Seas in the Cape Argus
and also a wine judge and writer, and Dave Hughes, another revered wine personality, author and judge,
and looking so much fitter after a recent successful operation
The food was served family style for us all to help ourselves from the centre of the tables
The starter platter included Chunky cheese straws served with a dipping mug of Roasted Pepper Humus;
Caprese skewers of mozzarella balls, tomato, with a basil pesto,
Panko prawns with a teriyaki dipping sauce - a bit dry; Dukkah coated goat’s cheese balls;
very good Chicken liver parfait on small roosterkoek (damper bread) and Lamb meatballs in a Pinotage sauce
Those delicious Lamb meatballs
The menu
The main course meats were all served on one plate: Delicious apple and honey stuffed pork belly with a rich savoury sauce;
very flavourful and much enjoyed lamb bobotie croquettes served with a lemon mayonnaise and sliced chicken breast roulade
wrapped in bacon, stuffed with wild mushrooms and spinach
A salad of butternut and goat’s cheese. There was also a dish of couscous with dried apricots, almonds and cranberries
Beetroot, baby carrot, spinach, apple, pomegranate and toasted seeds salad
Involtini, grilled aubergine and ricotta rolls in a rich tomato sauce, sprinkled with grated cheese was the vegetarian main
Dessert was local cheeses, biscuits and fruit: figs, grapes, strawberries, glacé melon
Another wonderful day in the winelands, with thanks to all at Meerendal

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