South African Wine
Napier Vineyards vine holdings currently extend to 90 hectares located below the Bainskloof Pass at the foot of the Hawequa mountains in the Western Cape. Named after former Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, Sir George Napier, the emphasis here is on producing wines of great character and delineation from a range of international grape varieties. Their 'Saint Catherine' Chardonnay hails from a small single vineyard whose fruit is pressed in whole bunches and then matured on its fine lees in oak barrels prior to racking, blending and bottling. The finished wine has a golden straw colour, toasty top notes and a bright tropical fruit palate with a long, elegant finish. It drinks well on its own and with seafood or roast chicken. Making its debut this year is their Petite Marie rosé - made from 100% Cabernet Franc - which has pure cranberry and spiced red berry aromas and flavours backed up by pink grapefruit-edged acidity and a moreish edge.
The estate's premium 'Red Medallion' bottling is made from a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot that are vinified separately in oak barrels for a year before blending and are then aged for a further year in barrel before bottling. It drinks very well from release and has inviting red berry aromas and a complex palate of dark fruit, spices and black pepper supported by supple tannins that stand up well to grilled red meat and slowly-cooked stews and casseroles.
Based in Cape Town, Carsten Migliarina is a sommelier-turned-winemaker who specialises in producing small parcels of carefully-crafted wines from fruit he has personally selected. He favours minimal intervention in his borrowed cellar space and (perhaps unsurprisingly) likes to produce wines of great varietal character that pair well with food. His Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch is barrel fermented and has appealing stone fruit aromas and a taut palate of citrus and tropical fruit with a fresh acidity and nervy mineral notes. A pure Grenache Noir from a single vineyard in Wellington, has a pale garnet robe, forest fruit bouquet and supple, mid-weight palate of wild strawberries and dark cherries offset by fine-grained tannins. Completing the range is a dark Stellenbosch Syrah that has briary hedgerow berry scents and a core of black fruit with peppery undertones and enough tannic structure to support 3-5 years bottle age.