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!
Every bottle of wine has a story inside of it! It’s a complicated story, and people like me look to simplify that very story and hope you get something out of it. More importantly I hope you are left curious enough to try the wine and see if it suits your palate. I don’t get paid for it, and if I visit the estate, I prefer to go as any ordinary paying person would experience the estate. Otherwise my perspective is biased and at risk of being compromised where I could end up promoting the wine estate’s interest at the expense of your interests. So while I don’t have an issue with getting the special invite to taste and meet the winemaker, or taste a wine that is a gift from the estate, I think it’s only fair that bloggers disclose where that has been the case. After my blog post about tasting the DeMorgenzon Maestro 2011 Red Wine, the team at DeMorgenzon, as a ‘small gesture’, sent me this gift. They hoped that I would enjoy it just as much. The ‘small gesture’ consisted of two beautiful white wine glasses, the DeMorgenzon Maestro White, which I am about to share with you and the DeMorgenzon Maestro Red, both 2015 vintages.
It’s actually good timing to blog about a white wine, as I last blogged about a white wine on the 1st of February. The month of love was otherwise filled with red wine blog posts. Another reason for me to sneak in tasting the DeMorgenzon Maestro white was it was the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Chomba has given up alcohol for lent, and so I will be tasting wine solo for a while. I knew she would not be charmed if I had the DeMorgenzon Maestro White without her as one of the tastings during lent.
To be honest, I was a little bit nervous about this tasting. I did not have my regular photographer, as Jordan was not feeling well. It’s a wine estate I love, and for some odd reason I can’t remember my thoughts on the DeMorgenzon Maestro White. I have such a bias for red wines, I tend to remember those the most when visiting wine farms. Add the pressure of this being a gift of appreciation, and I was opening this wine trying to calm all the voices in my head down. Chomba was having salmon for dinner, and the girls and I were having her famous honey and mustard glazed chicken. Although I could have done with some help, I dared not disturb her in the kitchen as I opened the wine and popped the cork, whilst also trying to get decent photographs in.
The DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2015 is a blend consisting of 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc and 13% Viognier. I am very familiar with the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier grapes, but the other two were foreign to me. “I will have to double check, I might have a bottle of the DeMorgenzon Maestro White”, I thought to myself as I now called Chomba to come closer for our ceremony of see, smell and taste. I really did miss Jordan, as the quality of her photographs are significantly better and I found it distracting to remember to take photographs after pouring and enjoy the wine. It interrupted my experience, so I ended up forgoing the camera. The golden colour of the wine in the glass really raised my level of expectations, as that is the colour that appeals to me. There is nothing that dampens my expectations like a glass of white wine that looks nearly as clear as water.
On the nose, after the swirl, you could not miss that it was a very fragrant wine. I was smiling from ear to ear, because so far so good. Chomba picked up stone fruit in the nose, and while I did pick up hints of fruit, it was not an overwhelming super fruity nose. It was just elegant, very cool on the back of my nose. A sip, and it was a dry and soft feel in my mouth! I could have sworn I heard Chomba comment something to the effect of the “white wine of the year”! While I do not disagree, given I was also impressed, I did note to her that it has been a short year of less than three months. There’s a face I pull when I am impressed by what I am tasting, and this wine sure made me pull that face.
The DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2015 is a bold wine, yet soft and velvety in feel to the mouth. It had a smooth finish, as it flowed down my throat, leaving a slight oily layer at the back of my tongue. I like a little oomf in the texture of wine, and that’s the South African style of winemaking I talk to when I say it’s slightly more aggressive. It’s not aggressive as in rough in the jungle, it’s elegant yet has presence in my mouth. Not something I find in European or American wines that I have had as they tend to be lighter yet complex. The taste was complex, with a hint of orange peels on later sips. 14% alcohol and the only giveaway is the boldness. The bolder the wine, the less acidity and that is just right up my alley. A definite HIT for me!
The recommended serving temperature for the DeMorgenzon Maestro White was at 11 to 13 degrees Celsius, but Chomba and I were very happy with drinking it at 16 degrees Celsius. I resisted chilling it more to test the taste at the recommended temperature. I have had a bad experience when I chilled white wine too much. Seeing as we were happy with what we were experiencing, why break it if it’s not broken? I must still go check what vintage I have aging, but we are definitely going to stock up some more for Easter. At R210 per bottle, it is a Category A wine (I have explained the categories in a previous post) and well worth it. It will make an appropriate end of lent return for Chomba.
Carl van der Merwe is the winemaker at DeMorgenzon, and my word, the two Maestro’s have been true to their names as far as wine goes. Knowing that the wine can keep its structure and complexity for five years from vintage is also encouraging, as I just might wait until 2020 for one of the bottles I will age, but let’s first get through Easter and Christmas.
I will say it again! The DeMorgenzon wine estate is magnificent, as is their wine. I also love the brand and what it stands for. I’m happy to enjoy the fruits of the vine, but there is a social responsibility on all of us in how we go about that. The wine farm is in Stellenbosch. Their claim that they pipe Baroque music through the vineyards and cellar and that might just be part of the secret to what they reap. Why would the wine taste any less inspired, if that is the attitude of the hands that tend to the soil and the grapes?