South African Wine
Former sommelier Carsten Migliarina has been making detailed, crystalline and thoughtful wines from his Cape Town HQ since 2002. He is meticulous and extremely hands-on with the vineyards he works with, favouring old vines wherever possible and - in the cellar - eschews the use of excessive oak in order to emphasise fruit purity above all else. His Chenin Blanc from 40 year-old bush vines is bright, layered and complex with a tension you would expect to find more near Anjou than Stellenbosch. A new, exciting addition to Carsten's range is his single-vineyard Bush Vine Chardonnay – an extremely rare combination from an old vineyard of 'classified' location in Stellenbosch. There is superb depth and concentration here with layers of citrus and stone-fruit leading to an extremely long finish.
The Migliarina Grenache is certainly not a typical red from Wellington (a very hot, dry growing area): it is delicate and perfumed on the nose and has a sappy-textured palate full of forest fruits with fine acidity and fondant tannins. A finely balanced Syrah completes his range with a more dark fruit personality and classic peppery undertones.
Also in Wellington (at the foot of the Bains Kloof Pass below the towering Hawequa mountains), Napier Vineyards tend around 90 hectares of vineyards across 3 farms planted on fertile 'Tukulu', 'Vilafontes' (one of the oldest soils in the world), plus weathered 'Malmesbury slate' and are mostly north-facing, aiding ripening.
A new addition, the 'Klein Louis' Sauvignon Blanc offers excellent value for money. Sourced from the cool-climate vineyards of Darling on the Cape Atlantic coast, it is brimming with tangy green apple, nettle and grassy gooseberry flavours. Their Saint Catherine Single-Vineyard Chardonnay has golden colour, toasty top notes and a ripe tropical fruit palate and would be an excellent foil for barbequed seafood, perhaps with a mango or pineapple salsa. The 'Petite Marie' rosé is made from 100% Cabernet Franc is a moreish crowd-pleaser, light pink in colour with a delicious cranberry fruit character. The serious, broad-shouldered 'Red Medallion' Bordeaux is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It is sleek and velvet-textured with aromatics of dark chocolate, cassis, cigar-box and black pepper – a delicious accompaniment to a ribeye steak.