18-01-2012

Growling around Knorhoek

In the 18th century, if you had a problem with large, possibly man-eating felines cruising around your farm, then a phrase like, “knorhoek” or “the place where lions growl” would seem quite fitting. And this is how Knorhoek winery took its name several hundred years ago. Weathering many a storm (such phylloxera) once the danger of predatory cats were wiped out, they’ve gone on to be a wonderfully scenic winery producing great wines from the region. And despite there being no more leopards in the area, they still thought it fitting to put on one the label.

Down a seemingly endless small road, you eventually cross a small stream and dead-end in to Knorhoek. The winery sits at the edge of a heavily forested area and indeed feels quite wild. Despite this feeling, they have 105 hectares of grapes that are largely sold to other wineries. They produced their first wine in 1997 and host many weddings on the grounds with people often staying in their country guesthouse.

Their 2009 Two Cubs White is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Chenin Blanc. It’s a fruity, easy to drink wine. There is nothing terribly complex about it, but it’s pleasant for general drinking and in the price range a good value. R 30

The 2009 Chenin Blanc has a nice honey nose that carries in to the body and finishes out well. A nice, warm weather white and good with salty, white meats. It’s fruity, but not annoyingly so. R 45

The Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has a bright, citric nose. It’s a touch tropical on the body with a good deal of effervescence to it. The finish is a bit dry though. It’s probably best with creamy, French cheese platters. The body isn’t as meaty as others in the region so, while pleasant, it doesn’t have a great deal of thrust. R 47

The Chenin Blanc 2008 is aged for 4-6 months in four year-old barrels. They claim it can be aged for another 4-5 years in bottle. While the nose is tart and not terribly appealing, the body is meaty and quite delicious, feeling like a meal unto itself. It finishes out with green apple and lemon flavors. R 40

The Two Cubs Rosé 2008 is designed to be a wine for the red wine drinker in summer. The nose is really sweet and full of strawberries like typical Rosés. This element also transfers in to the body. It’s a bit too sweet and is pretty much your standard Rosé in this respect. People who like this in a Rosé will appreciate the wine. R 30

The Cabernet Franc 2006 is aged for 22 months in French oak. It has a very nice and spicy nose to it that exudes an exotic feel with cinnamon and a small touch of cloves. The body is very well balanced with oak that doesn’t overpower at all, but works to enhance. There is a dustiness to the body that has been rare in most the Stellenbosch Cabernet Francs, but is most agreeable. R 80

The Pinotage 2007 is aged for 12 months in French oak. It has a very different nose than others you find and takes on a touch of minty qualities to it. The body isn’t as delicate though given that it’s a bit more blocky and dry with a coffee finish to it that some may like, but other will find too dry. R 70

The Shiraz 2006 is a light wine, but still meaty. The nose has a good deal of tobacco and again, the dustiness like the Cabernet Franc. There is a dark cherry quality to the body as well as the meatiness. It would be good to drink everyday or with heavy, gamey meats, and definitely steak. R 70

The Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is claimed to be able to be aged for another 10 years. The nose is full of chocolate smoke. It’s very different, but very appealing at the same time. The body is strong, but balanced and the finish is considerably more clean than a great deal of wines tasted at Knorhoek. The oak is maybe just a tad bit too strong and taking away from cherry flavors and other dark flavors that inhabit it. R 85

The Reserve Blend 2004 is aged for 24 months in French oak and is a blend of 32% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 8% Shiraz. They use their second best barrels for this wine and they claim it can be aged for another 2-3 years. The Merlot is a minor player in the wine at this point. At first the nose doesn’t seem all the distinct, but then you get touches of the smokiness. It’s a full-bodied wine with spiciness and a surprisingly present amount of fruit on the finish that lingers in a very pleasant manner. R 80

The Pantere 2005 is a wine that they claim would peak in 2011, but could be kept until 2015. A blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Shiraz, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, it’s a wonderfully balanced wine with stronger elements of the French oak aging to it. Delicate and floating, it finishes with a lovely smokiness to it that hangs around in your mouth to enjoy. R 110

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