21-03-2012

Tasting around Annandale

The Annandale estate, just off the namesake Annadale Road was established in 1688, making it one of the oldest in the Helderberg Valley region. It displays this age wonderfully as large, sweeping willows grace the fields where horses graze peacefully. These horses are a remnant of the days when it was also a riding school throughout most of the 20th century. The estate took something of a break from wine production during this time that had otherwise been ongoing for a continuous 315 years.

In 1994, the estate was returned back to being the wine cellar that you see today by the current owner, Gerhard (Hempies) du Toit, who made his name as a player for the Springbocks rugby team as a “front row strongman”. While this may be of passing interest to many, rugby is the #1 sport in South Africa and as such, the man is held in high regard. Also impressive is that Hempies is a fifth generation Huguenot winemaker. From this 75 hectare estate, he believes in the principle that the wine should be as untouched as possible to allow it to age naturally.

Cavalier Reserve Blend 2001 is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz. It spends three years in second fill French oak. The nose of the wine initially comes across with blackberry aromas and very, very slight strawberry elements as well. There is the slightest breath of mint to it as well. The body takes on a lot more of the stronger oak flavors and qualities, although it is surprisingly light in the body overall, betraying the heavier use of Merlot. Despite this, it is not a weak wine by any means and has the ever-present vanilla flavors from the oak as well. Most likely due to the general lightness of the wine, the finish is clean and pulls out quickly and smoothly. R 85

Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 is a single varietal wine that spends 5 1/2 years in first fill French oak. In turn, this produces a wine with much more pronounced vanilla aromas to the nose which spread out in to a good deal of blueberry as well. The blueberry then comes through in to the body as well as a strong chocolate flavor as well. All of these elements make it stack up as a very full-bodied wine which then pulls out in to a finish with strong tobacco flavors. While the wine has a nicely-constructed quality to it overall, the the finish does come as a bit of surprise given the amount of oak the wine sits in. To a certain degree, it’s a welcome aspect given that it betrays your expectations and keeps the wine more interesting. R 100

Annandale CVP (Cape Vintage Port) 2003 is a dessert wine based upon Shiraz. Initially, the blueberry and shortbread aromas to the nose would lead one to think the wine is not a sweet wine. This changes quite quickly when you get in to the thick body that is meaty in depth as well as properly sweet as one would expect from a dessert wine. Constantly, across the palate, the wine maintains the shortbread elements as well as full berry qualities. The finish comes up a tad bit strong though which is most likely due to the rather potent alcohol of 20%. But, it’s not meant to be had on its own and using it to close a heavy meal would suit it quite well. R 150

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