by Aaron Winsor
Hello Prince Albert!
Stuck in a wine rut and need something to bump you out of it? Consider trying wines from a country you’ve never tried before such as Hungary, Greece, Israel or South Africa.
All of these areas of the world provide wine varietals and blends that are exclusive to their respective country and also styles that are internationally recognized.
South Africa is a great place to start and that is where my wine journey led me this week.
South Africa is well known for two specific varietals: Chenin Blanc and Pinotage but they are also recognized as a premium producer of international varietals like Cab Sauv, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot among others.
Many South African wines take a French style to winemaking and blending by creating wines that have Bordeaux-like flavors and structure combined with an emphasis on rich fruit and this style can be tasted in both wines this week.
Many of the premium areas of South Africa are in the Coastal Region which includes Paarl, Stellenbosch and Constantia and in Prince Albert you will typically find wines with the words Western Cape which includes all of these areas.
The term Coastal region encompasses all of these previously mentioned spots and it is interesting to note that the 2013 Mentors Orchestra says Coastal Region on the label while the newer bottles on the shelf will say Western Cape (which is a specific Province including smaller districts such as Stellenbosch, etc.).
The wines that were tasted this week both provide generally similar flavor profiles but where they differ is in the small subtle details like the soft texture of the Lady May versus the more aggressive style of the Mentors.
It should also be noted that the 2013 Mentors has peaked and will not develop any further flavors while the Lady May has some definite developing (secondary) notes of mushroom and meat as well as softening tannins which will mellow with age and proper cellaring.
Here are my wine picks of the week!
The Mentors Orchestra 2013: (Coastal Region, South Africa). Dry red, deep purple color with ruby edges. This red is a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot and features a spicy, fruity nose of jammy blackberries, cooked raspberries, cassis, herbal tones (sage), cigar box and vanilla.
Medium-plus body and medium-plus acidity on the palate with high intensity flavors of pencil shavings, blackberries, plums, meaty notes, pepper and cedar.
The mid palate is round and fruity while the finish is long and spicy. Tingling spice, graphite mineral and hints of mushroom bring a savory character to the taste.
The tannins are noticeable but hover between medium and high which is indicative of the wine’s age so they never taste harsh or too bitter.
Pair with steaks, charcuterie or a good Nicaraguan cigar like Joya de Nicaragua.
Very good! $35, 14.5% ABV
Glenelly Lady May 2013: (Stellenbosch, South Africa). Dry red, deep ruby color with minimal fading.
Comprised of a blend of 85% Cab Sauv, 7% Cab Franc, 4% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot.
The aroma of this red is both fresh and earthy with notes of sweet earth, dark cherries, soft sweet cedar, musk spice, boysenberry, leather/smoked meat and forest floor.
This red is soft and mellow on the palate with a smooth, cooked fruit mid palate and a long finish of baking spice (cloves, pepper), licorice, cedar and blackberries.
Developing flavors of smoked meat, mushroom, butter and cigar box add complexity and indicate further aging potential.
Tannins are a solid medium-plus and provide a chewy texture while medium-plus acidity keeps the flavors balanced and cleans the palate.
The cedar and spice notes plus the mellow but flavorful style of this wine make it perfect to pair with grilled meats, soft and hard cheeses as well as cigars such as the Flor de las Antillas (available at the Co-op liquor store on Cornerstone).
Drinking well now but will age beautifully for at least another 4-5 years. Outstanding! $60, 14.5% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!
Aaron Winsor is a Prince Albert local who currently holds a WSET Level 3 certification in wine and will never turn down a good cigar or whisky. Check out his Instagram and Facebook page under Aaron The Wine Guy for wine, whisky and cigar reviews.