Glen Carlou, Celebrating 30 Years Of Wine

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Glen Carlou is a relatively young wine estate which I knew very little about when I visited. That is an approach I prefer, as then I go in with no expectations and bias. It is ideal, in that the impression I am left with after the experience is mine, as opposed to one subliminally sneaking up on me based on ‘marketing’. I only realised at the weekend that it is Glen Carlou’s birthday month, so my timing can be part of me celebrating with them in my own way. This is not a paid for post, but my own experience having now been to the wine estate and getting connected with their hospitality. If you are not familiar with my style, I write about wine because I enjoy sharing what I learn, and so for that reason I don’t appreciate writers, particularly critics, who want to tell me what to think.

Fresh and light stories, without the pinch of salt

“What are you known for?” Chomba asked Zayne, who was the wine consultant hosting us for the wine tasting. “Chardonnay” replied Zayne, with noticeable confidence. That took me by surprise as my tasting plan, looking at the list, was a Pinot Noir and some red wines. It caused great consternation for me, as now looking at the list of 18 wines, picking my 5 wines to taste was thrown off balance with Chardonnay coming highly recommended. I don’t like tasting white wines and red wines back to back for some reason.

Chomba’s picks for tasting were different to mine on some of the wines. While it solved for me tasting more than five, I do find that when I taste more than five wines without being disciplined making tasting notes, I lose any form of learning from the experience and memory to inform future decision making when looking to buy.

The first wine I tasted was The Curator’s Collection Chenin Blanc 2015. As we sat outside on the balcony, the blue sky backdrop and natural light  made for a wine in the glass that was a magical golden colour to look at. My senses were teased, and I wanted to give it a go. The label on the wine bottle added to the feeling of ‘something special’, particularly when reading the ‘3,3316 bottles made’! I picked up the glass, filled to the marker with wine, swirled it and put my nose in it. The aromatic nature of this Chenin Blanc was the antithesis of odourless. A pineapple fragrance came through  for me. Chomba, had started with a Chardonnay, and as we shared glasses to get a sense of what the other was experiencing, she thought she picked up dry apricot aromas on sniffing the very Chenin Blanc I was tasting. The taste was rather unexpected, as it was less fruity tasting relative to the sweet fragrances I had picked up on the nose.

The Curator’s Collection 2015 Chenin Blanc

There was nothing not to like about the scene. “I’m so glad we came here” I thought to myself. This as Zayne was pouring my second glass to taste, which was the Quartz Stone Chardonnay, 2014 vintage. The Chardonnay was matured eleven months in the barrel according to Zayne. Again, the nose was pleasantly aromatic. The wine colour was a lighter shade of gold than the Chenin Blanc. On sipping it, the wine was not as heavy as I expected for a Chardonnay that was in Oak for eleven months. The wine had a surprisingly citrus like finish. It was not at all a long finish either. I’m more of a traditional Chardonnay enthusiast, and this Chardonnay I can see being a HIT with the preference of today for this wine grape, which is something more zesty and crisp and less buttery and heavy.

The Chardonnay from Glen Carlou’s oldest vineyard, planted in 1989

Now came the wine that had inspired my curiosity to come to the Glen Carlou Wine Estate. I had to curb my enthusiasm as I did not want to be so excited, that the only outcome was disappointment. The Glen Carlou Pinot Noir 2013 vintage. A black cherry colour, while sitting in the glass. Looking at it, and marvelling over my experience thus far, the wine promised balance and some body. Not these watery Pinot Noir’s that have made my search for the fascination with this wine grape elusive. The smoky nose won me over, and the sip just sealed the deal. The grapes are from the estate. I immediately texted my colleague who had recommended the Glen Carlou as one of his favourite Pinot Noirs. It was an image of the wine in the glass, with the wine bottle and label clearly visible next to the wine glass with the caption “You’re quite the surprise with your wine knowledge Willie. Good call, I like this.”

Pinot Noir, just look at those tear drops…

The fourth wine I tasted was the Curator’s Collection Shiraz 2015. Chomba had picked the Classic Range Syrah 2015, so again we could swap tastings. I couldn’t pick up any distinct fragrances on the nose. This does happen to me occasionally. I am not one to try and pretend I smell anything, when it is not at all obvious to my senses. That behaviour is not pretentious, it is lying. I liked the burgundy colour of the Shiraz. Again the label teased my expectations with the ’33,032 bottles made’ scribed in fonts that reminded me of an old type writer. Tasting the wine, I picked up strong cherry flavours, different to what I am accustomed to tasting when having a Shiraz. Chomba’s Classic Range Syrah, 2015, appealed to me more, as I also tasted what she had. It was such a HIT, we bought two bottles of that wine.

If you like your tannins in red wine, then here is one to try

Last but not least was the Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 vintage. The tasting was winding down, and I was by then in lunch mode, evidence being my notes simply commenting on the green pepper nose and the dark burgundy colour of the wine. Nothing more and nothing less. Lunch was fantastic, and equalled by the service and the wine. As I usually end up doing, I joined the wine club, bought three bottles Pinot Noir and 2 bottles of the Syrah. After lunch I also tasted the Petit Verdot Tannat 2012, a new release, as I wanted to make it a round number of six bottles. We also bought Chardonnay, the one that was not available for tasting, which was 25th Vintage Commemorative Quartz Stone Chardonnay 2012. Seeing as this is the birthday month for Glen Carlou, with 2017 being their 30th harvest of Chardonnay, I will open this bottle on the cusp of my birthday month and theirs, so likely 30th September 2017.

Glen Carlou is not about wine production, they are into wine curatorship

Lanzerac, Wine Tasting South African Style

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! I have shared my tasting experience of the Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon, but I had never been to the wine farm. Zelda had invited us to come through, after an introduction by a common friend. A vineyard with quality wines, which takes the experience factor of their offering seriously!  This was not an opportunity to be missed. Lanzerac wine estate has a lot to offer, and I have always understood it to be not your “run of the mill” estate, whether it be for experiencing their wine tasting, restaurant, spa or hotel. My visit was focused on the wine tasting, as I had now had the teaser of the offering of the Stellenbosch wine farm, “against the foothills of the Botmaskop in the Jonkershoek Valley”.

The Lanzerac wine estate has a lot to offer

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Red Wine, Plaisir De Merle Grand Plaisir 2008

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! This wine estate is one I first visited with my brother and his family, a couple of years ago, and it was poetic in that the first time I tried one of their wines, we were together, and had to chuckle at how one of our friends seemed very eager to tell us the name of the wine estate, with the French accent in play. I still bumble my pronunciation, but Malose that night had the words just roll off his tongue. You can imagine when Chomba was in Pick n’ Pay, and she sent me a WhatsApp picture asking if she should buy this bottle of the Grand Plaisir 2008, my answer was an enthusiastic YES, given the price point, the age of the wine and the wine estate that was established in 1693 on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountains between Paarl and Franschoek.

A decanter need not be a convoluted shape IMO, simply allow for enough surface area for aerating

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Red Wine, Diemersfontein Pinotage 2015

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Diemersfontein prides itself on being the original coffee Pinotage since 2001. It is a beautiful wine and country estate, with views of the Du Toitskloof and Bain’s Kloof mountain ranges.  A 45 minute drive from Cape Town, we have been to the estate a few times, as well as some of the neighbouring Wellington wine farms, as Chomba and I had to fulfil our desire to experience the chocolate and coffee Pinotage offerings of the wines of the region. It is therefore quite surprising that I have yet to blog about a Pinotage wine, when it is such a favourite in the household.

Diemersfonetin Pinotage 2015 Uncorked

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White Wine, Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2015

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! My brother and his wife left me a couple of bottles of wine from the Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate after their last visit. I have been meaning to visit this wine estate in Walker Bay, Hermanus, for the last decade. The Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2015, was released in April 2016 and the wine bottle, with white label, completed by the ‘premium gold foil embossed design’ looks quite elegant and appealing to the eye.

The power of ambiance, to be served very cold

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Red Wine, Anwilka Petit Frère 2012

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Anwilka vineyards remains unknown to me as a wine farm and is situated on the south end of Stellenbosch. I discovered this bottle of Petit Frère while wine tasting at Klein Constantia wine farm in the autumn of 2015. On tasting the wine at the wine farm, it really did not appeal to either Chomba or myself. However, we did think that it could be better with time, so took a gamble buying one bottle, knowing that it would be put away for aging.

This Is Jordan Photography

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Red Wine, Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! It sounds obvious, but I choose to remind you of that every blog post, as it’s not easy getting to discover the next amazing thing, when we choose to stick with what we know. Our wine choices are not immune to this vulnerability. I made a promise many weeks ago, and it’s time I delivered on that promise. I could not wait until after Easter, so just last week I popped into Makro in search of a Cabernet Sauvignon. I scanned the shelves for a while, and the winner was the Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.

Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon Uncorked

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Red Wine, Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Some people like their wines mature, while others like them young! Some people like their wines racy, while others  prefer less of the lemon like acidity but rather a more neutral tone. Some people like the textural sharpness of the tannins that are gripping on the tongue while others would opt for a more smooth non-invasive flowing wine in their mouth. When you start to figure out which of those people you are, your wine journey becomes all that much more fun. That’s when you really begin to understand why you liked a specific wine and why you did not like another. The wine of the week is the Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011 vintage.

If your wine taste and preference is not black and white, you are right!

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White Wine, DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2015

One of the joys of venturing away from wines you are familiar with, is you discover wine you like. Equally as important, is along the way, you will also start to know what wine you definitely don’t like.  I blog to give you ideas as to wines that you might not have necessarily come across given South Africa has such a plethora of wines, wine types and wine styles. In six weeks of blogging, we have covered no less than 11 wines. I have blogged about white wine, red wine, a Rosé and in all that at least 14 varietals of grapes. Wine can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start, but the trick is simply to start… Find a couple of friends who are as curious as you and make it an event to taste and share notes. It also makes buying the wines safer in that you can avoid making expensive mistakes. Learning about wine  takes deliberate practice. This week I am tasting the DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2015 vintage!

A box full of treasures or pleasures?

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Wine Tasting, Mullineux & Leeu Wines With Food At La Table du Chef

If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out what works for you. Wine tasting and food pairing though, is an art and science best left to the professionals. I have written before about the journey in food you will have if you join Franck and Pete at The Foodbarn in Noordhoek. When they invite winemakers to pull out their very special wines to share in the marathon of fine dining they have created, your tastebuds will experience a symphony of taste second to none. In January 2017, the guests  of  honour at La Table du Chef, or Chef’s Table as we have come to know it, were Chris and Andrea Mullineux, co-owners and winemaker at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, a wine estate in the Swartland.

I shared this menu with a foodie who was not going and her response was “You’re killing me!”

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