Friday, July 31, 2020

Bellevue Reserve Collection Launch

We were invited to take part in this on-line Zoom tasting of Bellevue Wine Reserve Collection Estate wines which took place on Friday 31st July
We have had several invitations to take part in tastings like this, but with no wine. Doing those just makes us feel envious and bereft, so we don't do it. Bellevue got the wines to us in good time and it was extremely enjoyable seeing some of the usual suspects doing the tasting as well. These are the four wines we tasted from Bellevue, which is in the Bottelary area of Stellenbosch, renowned for its Pinotages and Cabernets
Dinah Dick led our Zoom meeting with other members of the wine trade and the media
Dirkie Morkel, who is the viticulturist on the farm, talked us through some of the history, especially of the Pinotage which was the first grown in the Cape and from which the first (Lanzerac branded) Pinotage was made. And which they still grow and make very successfully
Wilhelm Kritzinger, the Cellar Master, told us how he makes the wines and then took us through the tasting. We began with the 2019 Reserve Collection wooded Chardonnay. This is only the second vintage bottled and matured in blond 300 litre French oak barrels. Wilhelm revealed that they use a red wine yeast for this Chardonnay. R209 from the farm. Order now, it will be delivered when lock down is over. It has a classic, attractive Chardonnay character on the nose, buttery pastry, full and rich; wood does not dominate at all. This is repeated on the palate with caramel and buttered toast with lime and lemon. Long flavours, a good balance of acid, wood and fruit with some minerality. We were impressed
Michael Fridjhon was on line too for the tasting. The second wine from the Reserve Collection is the 2016 Bellevue Pinotage, R220. Wilhelm told us this wine ferments in a week on the skins and goes into spontaneous malolactic fermentation. They use French made American oak barrels. So you do get vanilla on the nose, with herbs, incense wood, minerality and sweet cherry jam, raspberry & mulberry fruit, with a hint of wildness. Tight chalky tannins grip the Cherry fruit. Then dark and milk chocolate, so you are reminded of a rich Black Forest cake. A hint of metal, good acidity and balance on second mouthful, then an end of salty minerality. A big wine, one to keep
Journalist and PRO Emile Joubert. The third wine was the Reserve Collection 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon R220. A classic, with cassis in bucketfuls, also blueberries, vanilla and incense wood. Quite ethereal at first, then an invitation to dive in please. Salty licorice, smooth with a chalky grip, then full on fruit fills the palate. We had the rest of this wine with our supper for two nights running and it just got better and better. An excellent food wine for drinking now. Buy some soon
Samarie Smith and Georgio Meletiou commenting on the wines.  The fourth wine was the flagship Reserve Collection 2018 Tumara, a five variety Bordeaux Blend. R235. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, then approx 10% each of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec; the blend of these last four varies each year. Wood on the nose, then violets, then fruit, Richness and complexity, velvety notes of cassis, mulberry, rhubarb, pencil lead, a touch of wildness from the Malbec and ends with an attractive perfume. Rich red and black berry fruit, licorice and Cassis predominated, good acidity, some chalk, wood on the end with dark caramel, then a finish of fruit acidity, showing that it needs time
Wilhelm told us he studied Food Science and then winemaking pulled him down the rabbit hole. He did a harvest with Dirkie in 2002, has now been 19 years at Bellevue and has never looked back. They did run out of money for a while but the new owner, Marinus Neethling, who bought the farm in 2017, has now helped the farm to success. Wilhelm makes site specific wines, and with limited interference and says "if you don’t have the right soils, climate and cultivars you can’t succeed. " An impressive tasting and a lot of fun too. Thank you all at Bellevue for brightening up our Lock Down. May alcohol sales be allowed very soon
Lynne watching on her laptop, glasses at the ready. John sat next to her, so we could taste together and watched on his phone. All the photographs above were photographed off the phone's screen and the images come from a variety of laptop computers and other devices, so we take no responsibility for the quality. We tasted a little of each of the four wines with our supper of Goulash that night to see what they were like with food. All performed well

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