26-10-2011

Banhoek Valley’s Zorgvielt

The feeling often comes over you when visiting wineries around Cape Town that as you drift from one to another, they’re all in some form of competition to be established in the most incredible settings of nature imaginable. It would admittedly be quite hard to trump the location of Zorgvielt, lying at the bottom of the Banhoek Valley just outside of Stellenbosch proper. Part of the “Greater Simonsberg” sub-region, it sits on the side of the meandering road to Franschhoek. While thoroughly modern, it is based in lovely, late 17th century buildings.

Despite changing hands a number of times (most recently in 2002), the property had a gap in real wine production of about 250 years, although small amounts have generally been made throughout. Since 2003, Neil Robert Moorhouse has been the head winemaker. A graduate of the Elsenburg College Agricultural College in Cape Town, he’s expanded their portfolio to include: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Tannat (he believes this grape has a huge future for SA), and Pinot Noir. All fermentation is in stainless tanks that is then transferred to French oak for final aging.

They’ve broken their vast offer of wine down to two lines: Silver Myn and Zorgvielt. The Silver Myn are easy drinking, lower cost wines that are all screw top. The Zorgvielt are higher-end wines that are aged longer and more complex in the composition.

Silver Myn

The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc has 14% alcohol and light pear with a touch of apple on the nose. Hints of peach as well. The body is tart with green apple. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste which initially takes a bit to clear out. It would probably pair well with shrimp and other shellfish and is composed of 90% Sauv Blanc, 10% Semillon. R 40 (R = Rand, $1 ~= R 7.75)

The 2005 Chardonnay feels like it’s been aged for quite awhile, but in reality, hasn’t. It has a peppery nose with a touch of prosciutto to it and cured olives. Very nice in the mouth with a soft body. Light hints of mint and a general deepness not seen in a lot of other Chardonnays. The finish is clean, crisp, and relaxing. It could almost be had with a dessert of baked apples. R 48

The 2009 Chenin Blanc has a surprisingly subtle nose with light hints of the sea to it. The body is delicious, well-balanced, and complex, yet very easy to drink. It’s a clean body, although the finish comes up a bit tart. Good for pork and fish with a touch of sparkly effervescence on the finish that is quite delightful. R 48

The 2008 Semillon has a nose that is a bit blunt and overtly tannic. The body however is rather neutral and undefined, lacking much complexity. The finish is neutral as well which isn’t surprising given how little of a body there is. R 40

The 2008 Semillon Zorgvielt nose is immediately much more complex than the base Semillon with a great deal more oak to it, which is natural given that it received a decent amount of barrel time. The nose might drift a tad bit much to wood as the oak overpowers a lot of the other flavors. Naturally, while only four months, it’s spent in new French oak. R 75

The 2006 Merlot Cabernet Franc 60/40 has a very strong, wafting nose. The body is very dry and a rather acidic. There is a strong oak through the nose and in to the body. It’s definitely a plush wine with hidden blackberry elements to it. A bit strong for anything short of red meat or just enjoying by itself or with a plate of anchovies. The finish sticks around a bit more than what is preferable, but it’s natural given the overall weight of the wine. R 48

The 2007 Cabernet Franc opens up with a floral, wet nose. It has a dry, yet well-balanced body that while strong with the oak, still brings out a lot of delicate strawberry flavors. The finish is very nice in how clean it is though. R 65

Zorgvielt

The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon shouts out with a crisp, clear nose that is enjoyable to inhale, but it speaks of just a tad too much oak on it. In the body however the oak mellows out a great deal and is bathed in a rather luscious amount of plum elements. While not overly so, the body is rather dry. The finish is astutely clean and can probably be had with pork due to how well the components of the wine are balanced out. R 110

The 2004 Shiraz is again dipping in to a rather heavily oaky nose that cuts out a lot of the other aromas that might be possible. The body is light with apricot elements. It definite cleans out quite well. R 110

The 2006 Petit Verdot has a lighter strawberry nose that while unique isn’t quite to my taste. The body is nice and soft with much better balance of the oak. A dry wine, it cleans out a good deal better than the others. There is a sticky gum quality to the finish, which isn’t completely desirable but doesn’t really detract from the overall experience of a good and unique wine. R 110

We talk a great deal more about the wines of Stellenbosch and other Cape Town wineries in our Stellenbosch wine guide.