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Madame May de Lencquesaing left Château Pichon Comtesse in Bordeaux for this beautiful South African property just outside Stellenbosch which she purchased in 2003. All estate-grown, the 2013 is 47% cabernet sauvignon, 23% merlot, 15% syrah, 11% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot, an assemblage which recalls the common 19th Century practice of adding syrah to the traditional left bank Bordeaux palette. This is an elegant and muscular South African red developing savoury complexity, lifted by notes of mint and Cape spice.
Product Code: SA16291
View all products by Glenelly Cellars
This 125-hectare estate was a fruit farm until 2003, at which point it was acquired by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, who left Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Bordeaux after 30 years to produce South African wine with a distinctly French touch. The first vintages were made at Quoin Rock, but a winery was installed at Glenelly in 2009. It is one of the 15 original PIWOSA (Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa) members.The property was first granted to French Huguenot settlers in 1682, and is perfectly situated just outside the picturesque old university town of Stellenbosch itself, with stunning views out over the town and the Simonsberg mountains beyond. The gravel soils here are well suited to the 54.5 hectares of red grape varieties (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, petit verdot, merlot and cabernet franc), and there is also 5.5 hectares of chardonnay for the estate’s two white wines. Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain joined Glenelly at the end of 2007, after five years at neighbouring Rustenberg, and earlier internships in Alsace, with Angélus and Fieuzal in Bordeaux, and Screaming Eagle in California. His early arrival allowed him to be involved in the design of the striking, eco-friendly winery, which requires no air conditioning thanks to the water-cooled pipe system within the concrete walls. Apart from its state-of-the-art vinification facilities, it also houses a lovely private collection of fine glass, which had long been a unique feature at Pichon, which gives its name to the estate’s ‘second’ wines: The Glass Collection.
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too. Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.The RegionsThe vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential. South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
A wet and cool winter set the grapes up for a smooth ride through to an earlier than average harvest in 2013. Temperate weather brought some rot concerns with it, but generally the fruit came in healthy and a big crop was harvested. Pinotage performed particularly well, and reds are, by and large, concentrated and deeply coloured while whites are fruity and full of flavour. As was the case in 2012, Paarl and Stellenbosch did very well.
"As described and utterly delicious. Have gone back for more. "
I would recommend this wine
"A lovely full bodied wine, if you shut your eyes you could imagine you are drinking a 2010 Pauillac from Bordeaux like Chateau Croizet Bages. Excellent probably the best south African Red wine I have ever tried, no elegant cigar box flavour you get from a good claret though but very nice well worth trying at £14.50p. Tom Macpherson"
"Got 3 off these as a mixed SA case I put together a couple of months ago.
Uterly delicious, wish I'd ordered a dozen of them, not cheap but worth every penny."
"Lush. Please re-stock!"
I would recommend this wine
"Excellent value for the money, hence the five stars, and a hefty but well-balanced wine from nose to finish. As described; packed with fruit, offset by fine acidity and some tannin spine. Aged nicely. I will be buying more. My only doubt about recommending it is that there might not be any left for me."
"As described and utterly delicious. Have gone back for more. "
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