Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec Vouvray 2010 vs. Skurfberg Olifantsrivier 2009
By Christian Eedes, 7 November 2011
“Summer drinking” was the theme for a tasting yesterday which might suggest an array of uncomplicated wines but in the end some pretty stuff got opened. Waterford 2000, a Cap Classique from 89% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Noir, was in fine nick, the nose showing attractive yeastiness while the palate was rich and full with flavours of citrus and peach, a fine mousse and soft but sufficient acidity (score: 16/20).
Flagstone CWG Weather Girl 2006, a blend of 53% Semillion and 47% Sauvignon Blanc from Elim, was magnificent: Green melon on nose and palate, rich and broad but not at all flabby before a savoury, almost saline finish (score: 18/20). Drinking wonderfully now but thanks to a pH of 3.17 probably good for a long while yet…
Finally, a fascinating Chenin Blanc taste-off: Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec Vouvray 2010 versus Skurfberg Chenin Blanc Olifantsrivier 2009, one of the wines in the Old Vine Series from Sadie Family Wines.
The Le Haut Lieu is from a 40 year old vineyard, 9ha in size. Bruised apple and peach on the nose and palate. A pretty, lighter bodied wine. Not slight but understated and demanding of careful consumption lest its subtleties be missed. Alc 12.7%, RS 7.9g/l and acidity 5.6g g/l according to the Huet website. I scored it 16.5/20.
The Skurfberg, from vineyards on three different farms on the mountains between Clanwilliam and Lamberts Bay, was an entirely different proposition. This wine was overtly oxidative and much more intense (the three parcels vinified separately and blended after 12 months before maturing another six months in old casks). Bruised apple and spice on nose and palate but what was particularly striking was its richness and texture, tangy acidity lending balance.
On the whole, more intense and dramatic than the Le Haut Lieu. I scored it the same (16.5/20), which is to say I thought both were very fine but short of greatness. Domaine Huet is, of course, is revered around the world among serious wine enthusiasts whereas the Old Vine Series is known only to a few wine geeks. How to tell South Africa’s story better?