Delaire Graff winemaker Morné Vrey is feeling pretty chuffed at the moment after his Chardonnay 2012 and Port-style Cape Vintage 2011 won double gold medals at this year’s Veritas Awards. I tasted the entire portfolio yesterday and the Chardonnay is indeed good while the Cape Vintage is excellent if at least 10 years off being ready to drink.
Are these the best wines in the portfolio? Moot point. This is a very strong line-up and given the vagaries of wine competitions that we are all aware of, just about any could have taken top honours at Veritas and it would be difficult to argue.
New to the range is the Unoaked Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2013, which at R59 a bottle, offers tremendous quality relative to price. From a combination of Swartland and Voor-Paardeberg grapes, it has oodles of guava, peach and pineapple, bright acidity and a savoury finish.
Then the truly superlative wines in the range for me are as follows:
White Reserve 2011
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon. Lime through peach and even a touch of white currant. A subtle spicy note. Great flavour intensity but also wonderful balance and finesse – nothing weighty or exaggerated about it.
51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 7% Shiraz, 4% Malbec. Red and black fruit, pleasant herbal quality and a touch of spice. Great purity and concentration, bright acidity and nicely grippy tannins. Already quite drinkable but equally should reward at least five years of bottle maturation.
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011
95% Cabernet Sauvignon 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. 18 months in French oak, 60% new. Red and black berries, violets and a subtle earthiness. Great core of fruit, lovely fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins. Perhaps not as arresting as the 2009 but still very classy.
Laurence Graff Reserve 2011
Price: R1 650
A barrel selection of the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: 22 months in French oak, 60% new. Black fruit and subtle vanilla. Great fruit purity, bright acidity and good tannic grip. More modern and exact than the Reserve but arguably less engaging right now. Certainly more convincing than the 2009 vintage – carries its oak better.