Doolhof, situated on the slopes above the Bovlei valley in Wellington, has some 36ha under vineyard, 70% of which is planted to Bordeaux varieties. Is it wise to be attempting premium Bordeaux in a district known as “Hellington” on account of its hot summers? Well, Rianie Strydom consults and when you recall the Bordeaux-style Premiere Selection she made at Morgenhof, it would seem the property at least has a fighting chance.
Much is made of the Signatures of Doolhof Malbec, and the 2011 (R119 a bottle) is pleasant enough with red and black fruit plus some not unattractive herbal character and oak spice (score: 86/100). A step up is the Cabernet Franc 2009 (R119) which has a shade more detail including that floral note typical of the variety and better balance (score: 87/100).
The Legends of the Labyrinth range includes a Cape Blend called The Minotaur, the current release 2009 (R180) somewhat over-reaching itself appearing rather big, sweet and lacking verve (score: 85/100). Theseus 2009 (after the king of Athens who slayed the mythical minotaur) is the farm’s flagship Boredeaux-style red (R235) and is a bit better realised but still in a very rich, full style (score: 86/100).
Current owner Dennis Kerrison acquired the property in 2003 and admits to still feeling his way. All other things being equal, I’d jettison the Cape Blend (generally a peculiar category) and concentrate on making a top single-variety Pinotage. The Bordeaux-style blend must surely be an option as long as “finesse” is the watchword and then the farm also has Shiraz currently destined for rosé – I’d identify the best vineyards and then blend it with Cab – it’s a combo which doesn’t get nearly enough credit and my instinct is that it could work well here.