Best wines of 2010: CE’s choice

By , 6 December 2010





Below is a list of my 10 best wines for 2010. Where I encountered them blind, I scored them well enough but they appear here in that they provided me with great drinking pleasure. Some are established benchmarks, others are relative newcomers that I think show the way forward.

Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2009
I’ve always liked this wine but winemaker Sebastian Beaumont seems to have taken it to a new level of quality in the past two or three vintages. Not overworked and immensely age-worthy.

Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma Pinot Noir 2008
Pinot Noir is meant to be all ethereal and haunting but this wine blew me away with its fruit integrity (grapes sourced entirely from a Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge property). I’ve yet to taste the 2009 but am reliably told it is even better.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2009
A great vintage from a great producer. Exceptionally well put together and good few years off its peak.

Graham Beck Pheasants’ Run Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Is Sauvignon Blanc a noble variety? Who cares when it makes wines as clean, pure and refreshing as this.

Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2008
So much of local Shiraz is weighty and powerful and bloody tiring to drink. This offering from cool-climate Constantia is pretty without being at all insubstantial.

Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage 2007
After long having been sceptical of Pinotage, I encountered at least half a dozen this year that I thought were really exciting wines. Which one to include in a top 10 list? The first commercial release of a Pinotage was when the 1959 harvest from Bellevue was sold under a Lanzerac label in 1961 and it seems appropriate that there’s again a top example that bears this name.

Paul Cluver Chardonnay 2009
The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2009 as made by Paul Cluver’s Andries Burger for this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild is crackerjack (I scored it 95/100 in a blind tasting) but the standard label 2009 is not too shabby either (best in class at this year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show).  With the former having fetched an average of R1 613 per six-bottle case compared to the latter’s R720 per case from the farm, and with the global recession dragging on, it’s a no-brainer which one to opt for.

Reyneke Reserve White 2009
In a word, arresting. Fantastic fruit expression although still very tight. Making biodymanic wines is pretty trippy by all accounts but I tell you what, so is drinking it (in the best way).

Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet 2007
When I first encountered this wine blind, I mistook it for a blend on the basis that I could not believe that a single varietal Merlot made locally could have such profundity. Less flashy than the 2008 that rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011.

Sijjn 2007
42% Shiraz, 26% Mourvédre, 21% Touriga Nacional, 10% Trincadeira, 1% Cabernet Sauvingon. This wine made by David Trafford of De Trafford is labelled “Wine of Origin Swellendam” with the vineyards between Malagas and Cape Infanta. A flavour profile that is unusual but also instantly captivating. The Swartland is not the only area doing innovative stuff.


4 comment(s)

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    elias | 7 December 2010

    Thanx for the reply, will look Boschkloof up, tasted the millennium of La Motte years back when he was stil there and now I understand why the conclusion was superb. Don’t you think we should explore more into these wines, as they do not have the big names (did not know Boschkloof is on the guild) and you pay a lot less for the same quality. I’m not talking about R40 bottles with decent wine inside, but some wines in the R100 range with the same quality such as big names like Ernie Els, Thelema, Warwick ect. but without paying R300+ for a bottle of wine. If its possible please post more about wines in this price range or are these wines very rare?

    elias | 7 December 2010

    Tasted the Eagles’ Nest 2007 and it was awesome, and after our dinner a friend opened a bottle of Boschkloof Conclusion 2006. It was probably the best red I tasted this year. Full-bodied with big but elegant mid-palate, very nice ripe fruit flavours. A serious and old-world style wine, why is it the first time I have heard and tasted this wine? Would like your opinion please, hidden treasures???

      Christian | 7 December 2010

      I’m not sure why Boschkloof doesn’t enjoy a higher profile than it does – after all winemaker Jacques Borman is a CWG winemaker and enjoyed a successful career at La Motte before moving full-time to this family owned property. The last time I came across Boschkloof wines was during a blind tasting of the line-up for this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, where I scored the CWG Conclusion 86 out of 100 and the Auction Reserve Shiraz 2007 85 (see related post on this blog). While Boschkloof wines are generally very good, what’s stops them from being exceptional for me is that they are just a bit over-worked and rustic.

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