KWV The Mentors Grenache Blanc 2010

Ineffible.

KWV The Mentors Grenache Blanc 2010, 5 Stars in Platter’s 2012 and one of my top 12 wines of last year, really is outstanding as a bottle last night again proved. But, man, it’s difficult to arrive at a tasting note, especially regarding the nose of this wine.

“Aromas of orange peel, mandarin and marshmallow (!)” is what appears on the back label while Angela Lloyd who reviewed it for Platter’s discerns “wet earth and fresh hay”. I noted mushrooms and paper pulp (!!!) in addition to peach and peach kernel last night.

On the palate, it shows weightless intensity and it’s a wine which manages to engage both intellectually and emotionally, its very elusiveness part of its charm.

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11 Comments

  1. KwispedoorJune 22, 2012 at 8:56 amReply

    Thanks, Christian –  I saw that article before and also found it useful. I’m tasting old and oldish Pinots with The Noble Rotters on Saturday, so I wonder if the word “feminine” will rear it’s head there… I’m certainly hoping “minerality” will, as I love that in a wine – however one might choose to describe it.
    An excerpt from that article:
    “Wines from famous wine regions like Chablis, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre and Priorat (among others), are classic illustrations of wines with minerality. But this is not to say that scientific evidence exists pointing to a direct relation between the soil and the flavor of a wine. In other words, even though, for example, intense minerality can be detected in the flavors of a Mosel Riesling, this flavor does not come directly from the slatey soils.”

  2. ChristianJune 21, 2012 at 8:52 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi All, Please read this article (link originally tweeted by Francois Haasbroek of Waterford): http://www.newworldwinemaker.com/articles/view?id=375 Here’s the deal – some descriptors are literal in the sense that the chemical compounds involved are more or less the same (fruit, vegetable and oak-derived) and some are more figurative. I happen to find “minerality” meaningless but not nearly as irritating as when tasters refer to “masculine” versus “feminine” wines. “Masculine” like Ricky Martin or “feminine” like Pink?

  3. Jonathan SnashallJune 21, 2012 at 2:40 pmReply

    yep, there does seem to be a much more literal sense to the ‘mineral’ descriptor than say ‘peach’ which partly stems i guess from the notion of terroir, but all of soils influence is indirect and any minerals present in fruit are well below human detection threshhold.

  4. KwispedoorJune 21, 2012 at 12:33 pmReply

    Minerality as a tasting term is controversial to a somewhat surprising degree. Sure there’s the likelihood that very little, if any at all, minerals are transported through the vine to the grape in an organoleptically perceptible way, but available science is extremely rudimentary about this. Thing is: most people don’t mean this when they describe a wine as having mineral nuances. It’s a way to describe the pebbley, chalky, gravelly, etc. nuances that sometimes manifests in wine that’s difficult to describe otherwise. And like Jonathan says, most anoraks have a pretty good idea what you’re trying to convey when you note that a wine displays minerality. 
    Surely, when someone notes apricot aromas/flavours on a wine, such a person is not implying that there was some sort of uptake through the vine’s root system of apricots that happened to fall from a nearby tree or that someone added apricots during fermentation..! Why would minerally nuances be different in this sense than any other descriptor? Surely, we can’t just describe a wine by using only what actually went in to it? Imagine that: “Ah – aromas of fermented grapes with a hint of bentonite. Perhaps a slight whiff of chameleon tail”
    Actually, mineralty makes much more sense than paper pulp, marshmallow, fresh hay, etc. if you think about it. I suppose we can debate minerality as a descriptor ad nauseam (like we can concepts like elegance, gravelly tannins, creamy mouthfeel, etc.), but tasting notes are simply an individual’s way to try and explain what a wine tastes like – it’s far from an exact science.  

  5. ChristianJune 20, 2012 at 3:52 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi All, the KWV Mentors Grenache Blanc 2010 is indeed a fascinating wine (and I think ultimately more complex than the 2011). When I had it double blind (i.e. no indication of variety) in January, I speculated it was reduced in a way akin to mercaptan on Sauvignon Blanc but KWV cellarmaster Richard Rowe categorically denies this (see http://www.whatidranklastnight.co.za/what-i-drank-last-night/demorgenzon-reserve-chenin-blanc-2009/). So if not reduction, then what? A while ago, there was much debate about the petrol smell on Riesling after Michel Chapoutier suggested this character was in fact a fault (see http://www.decanter.com/news/wine-news/525144/petrol-smell-in-riesling-a-mistake-chapoutier). The upshot of the debate was that nobody really seems to know where that petrol smell comes from and perhaps there’s no easy explanation for what we’re experiencing in the case of this Grenache Blanc. As for “minerality”, it’s a nonsense term…

  6. Angela LloydJune 20, 2012 at 3:06 pmReply

    I haven’t tasted the 2010 recently, but  the 2011, sampled at the same event as Jonathan, seems very different in that there’s more expressive fruit on the nose, with smoky tropical tones. Something like Alsace pinot gris, but in the mouth it’s very similar to the previous vintage. Grenache in both white and red forms (I’ve not had a wine from gris) seems to have encouraging potential here.

  7. SmirrieJune 20, 2012 at 10:36 amReply

    I had a bottle last week and must agree that i think it deserves another two years. However this is just showing that KWV Mentors Range is as good as it gets. Awesome wine for me . The M word Kwispedoor well that is really what it is .lol. MINERALITY and i tasted some “gedroogte appelkoos rol”.

  8. Jonathan SnashallJune 20, 2012 at 9:45 amReply

    if this anything to go buy, v. good eg’s in california as well http://www.cellartracker.com/new/wine.asp?iWine=1198680 and ja they use the M word

  9. Jonathan SnashallJune 20, 2012 at 9:36 amReply

    ps I tasted the 2011

  10. Jonathan SnashallJune 20, 2012 at 9:34 amReply

    Also dislike the M word as we can’t taste it in wine and there is no scientific evidence of its existence (in wine), but generally we (geeks?) all know what we are talking about when we use the word.

    Anyway back to this haunting wine – I tasted it on 12 June (leaf day) and also found elusive aromas, one of the most appealing was a hint of flinty/smoky/peatiness but there are old world ‘quirks’ on a lot of the whites in the Mentors range eg tangy edge on chard, steeliness in semillon, wet wool (or M word) on Viogner(also unusual), can they do a chenin please?

    There is def Viogner like peachiness on the GB as well. Whats your score Christian? I would give it 17.5/18. This grape must have huge potential in the Cape. But in southern France is prone to oxidation, flabiness and simplicity!?

  11. KwispedoorJune 20, 2012 at 8:57 amReply

    The last time I tasted it, it had surprisingly (bottle variation?) developed into something akin to Riesling – there were dried fruits and even a whiff of typical Riesling turpene! The palate was lively, with zippy acidity, persistent fruit, pleasant minerality (yes, I’ve used the “M” word) and I thought it deserved more time. Certainly intriguing stuff! 

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