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Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Collection Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc 2012

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Goes with mussels.
Goes with mussels.

Leopard’s Leap was launched in 1999 to serve the UK market and volumes now amounts to 320 000 cases a year with it exported to 40 countries. Local sales make up 70 000 cases with 60% of this happening through the off-trade.

How to build a home for a brand that most consumers are quite happy to acquire via their local supermarket was the challenge that faced co-owner Hein Koegelenberg and his answer was a facility in Franschhoek focusing on food and wine. “We’re intent on creating an experience. [Achieving customer loyalty means] we cannot only sell wine.”

Towards reinforcing the Leopard’s Leap relationship with food, a new tier of six wines called the Culinaria Collection, slightly more premium than the rest of the range and available only from the Franschhoek facility.

Méthode Cap Classique Brut
Price: R95
Franschhoek grapes – 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier. Neutral on the nose. Citrus on the palate with crisp acidity and a fine, energetic mousse. Not much autolytic character.

Score: 83/100.

Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc 2012
Price: R65

Paardeberg fruit – 83% Chenin Blanc, 17% Grenache Blanc. Stone fruit and pineapple. Great fruit expression, bright acidity. Smooth textured and appropriately weighty.

Score: 86/100.

Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2012
Price: R69

Elgin fruit – 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Strawberry on entry, lemon finish. Not insignificant body, moderate acidity and a dry finish. Well put together but entirely derivative.

Score: 82/100.

Shiraz Grenache 2010
Price: R89

63% Shiraz, 27% Grenache (from Bot River) and 10% Cinsaut (from  Paardeberg). Ripe red and black berries – still very primary with clean, pure fruit, bright acidity but no real tannic grip.

Score: 83/100.

Grand Vin 2010
Price: R89

Stellenbosch fruit – 43% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot. Red and black fruit but not too facile thanks to a savoury edge. Medium bodied with moderate acidity and soft but not slippery tannins.

Score: 85/100.

Muscat de Frontignan Natural Sweet 2013
Price: R 69

Robertson fruit. Subtle nose showing strawberry and rose petal notes. Pure fruit and bright acidity – very pretty.

Score: 86/100.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Christian, I’d be interested to hear whether you thought these wines were more food-friendly than other South African wines made in the same style.

    • Hi, James. My feeling is that the Leopard’s Leap brains trust deserve a compliment for coming up with a collection of wines which are generally pretty sound if not life-altering – more savoury than sweet, not too high in alcohol, not too extracted, not too heavily oaked. Some top Franschhoek chefs working on the related food matches so, all in all, a project worth keeping an eye on.

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