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Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Collection Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc 2012


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.


  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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