At the launch of the Morgenster 2011 yesterday, six wines tasted blind by a gathering of some 50 people from the wine trade and media.
Here’s how I ranked them:
1. Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2002 – Second Growth, St Julien
Average Wine-searcher.com price: R984
Red and black fruit plus a slight maritime quality. Lovely fruit purity, freshness and structure.
2. Chateau Leoville- Barton 2004 – Second Growth, St Julien
Average Wine-searcher.com price: R1 002
Dark fruit, a floral top note plus also a slight meatiness. Great intensity, fresh acidity and firm tannins.
Score: 93/100. (During discussion, it was pointed out that this wine is Brett contaminated which I concede and my score is therefore probably too high but it’s hardly undrinkable).
3. Chateau Prieure-Lichine 2001 – Fourth Growth, Margaux
Average Wine-searcher.com price: R603
Black fruit, hint of forest floor. Plenty of power – sweet fruited with lovely tannic grip.
4. Morgenster 2004
Not currently available.
Red fruit, some tomato cocktail and a little herbal fragrance. Medium bodied with good freshness and fine tannins. Starting to fade?
5. Morgenster 2001
Very developed – red and black fruit but also tomato cocktail, meat stock, forest floor and earth. Past best but still appealing.
6. Morgenster 2003
Red fruit plus a pronounced herbal character on the nose and palate. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Very “green” in the context of the flight.
The group ranking was as follows:
1. Morgenster 2004
2. Chateau Leoville Barton 2004
3. Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2002
4. Morgenster 2003
5. Chateau Prieure-Lichine 2001
6. Morgenster 2001
A general observation: Cab-based wines generally considered the best in this country often look exceptionally “green” when put up against their counterparts from elsewhere in the world. Are South African wine professionals too tolerant of pyrazine-derived aromas and flavours? Are we doing enough to eradicate leaf-roll virus? Do local growing conditions simply entail that Cab doesn’t ripen properly?