Could the Circle of Life Red from Waterkloof in Somerset West be even better than the Circle of Life White? While I liked the White 2009 launched earlier in the year (see here) very much, I think I like the Red more, a rare occurrence in the South African context.
Both wines are intended to be a “reflection of the estate” and owner Paul Boutinot as well as winemaker Werner Engelbrecht are not inclined to let on as to the precise constituents of each blend. The White is apparently Sauvignon Blanc dominated but also includes Chenin Blanc and Semillon, while the media release that accompanied my sample bottle of the Red reveals only that it was a combination of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals.
The Bordeaux varieties (the property has Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot planted) were destemmed while the Rhône varieties (potentially drawn from Grenache, Mourvèdre and Shiraz) were whole-bunch fermented, depending on the ripeness of the stems. Natural ferment, 40 days post-fermentation skin contact, no indication of the length of barrel maturation.
Whereas so many local reds are weighty and powerful, this wine is all about finesse. It has a complex nose showing both red and black fruit as well as plenty of spice and this all follows through to the palate. There’s a mouth-watering line of acidity as well as strong but not bullying tannins.
The Waterkloof team “abide by biodynamic farming practices” and this wine has that uplifting, stimulating affect on drinking it that I also find with the wines from fellow biodynamic producer Reyneke. I don’t know if it’s auto-suggestion, but it’s a good buzz…
As to why the Red shades the White in terms of enjoyment, I have a sense that while they are both very clever wines, the Red has a dash more charm about it, at least at this stage of its life. The White costs R155 a bottle from the tasting room and the Red R180 from the tasting room.