In 1993, Ken Forrester gave up a successful career in the hospitality industry when he paid R1.8 million on public auction to acquire Scholtzenhof, a 50ha Stellenbosch property and went into wine production. It’s been quite a ride since then.
Yesterday, a tasting billed as “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” comprising a tour through vintages past, current offerings and peek at what’s in store for the future.
Flight one consisted of a very green Sauvignon Blanc 2007, a glorious Chenin Blanc 2007, an elegant if modest Merlot 2005 and a rather tired Shiraz Grenache 2002.
Flight two consisted of the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – from the same vineyard as the 2007 but much better resolved. Rich with moderate acidity with notes of white peach and pear, the crop down by 32% relative to the average according to Forrester. The Chenin Blanc Old Vines Reserve 2011 is promising but currently a bit shut down – concentrated yellow fruit, some intriguing leesy character and tangy acidity. The Merlot 2009 is above average without being knock-out and the Renegade 2007 (a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre) is suitably exotic.
Going forwards, plenty of experimentation as Forrester tries to work out what to take to market and how to make the unusual commercial. Flight three therefore consisted of a nicely judged if not riveting Viognier 2012, a very smart Roussanne 2012, a flashy Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and an intensely coloured, pure fruited Petite Sirah.
Stand-out wine of the day was the Chenin Blanc 2007, five years after vintage and in its pomp. Straw yellow with a green tinge in colour, the nose and palate were hugely expressive – citrus through stone fruit as well as notes of honey and spice as well as some leesy character. Rich but not too rich, zippy acidty lending balance (score: 17/20). Whatever the potential the likes of Viognier and Roussanne hold, those punters that continue to overlook Chenin do so to their own detriment.