La Chapelle on the Helderberg

The difference between SA wine writers and winemakers is summed up in the two photographs below. Which are the feet of a Rupert & Rothschild winemaker and which of the Media24 columnist?

IMG 0608 168x300 La Chapelle on the Helderberg

IMG 0617 300x168 La Chapelle on the Helderberg

The feet were papped at Webersburg this morning where the local importers of Francois Freres barrels – Wine Machinery – hosted a symposium on Rhone wines. I’ll be tasting SA Shiraz next week for Classic Wine magazine so thought it a great opportunity to brush up on my Shiraz sipping skills and I have a couple of observations to offer.

While the Swartland may make the biggest noise about Shiraz, they were conspicuous by their absence at Webersburg which was dominated by Stellenbosch and Constantia. The best wine of the tasting of six for me was the Saint Joseph Domaine de la Croix des Vignes 2010 which although way too young, exhibited great concentration, balance and depth of flavour. At E45 a bottle, I thought it streets ahead of stable mate Hermitage La Chapelle Rouge 2007 (below) at a plutonic E180.

IMG 0618 300x168 La Chapelle on the Helderberg

In the white department, the standout was Hermitage le Chevalier de Sterimberg 2011, a 70:30 blend of Marsanne and Roussanne for E54 a bottle. For a local alternative the Lime Kilns from Darling Cellars, a blend of Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier offers a similarly wooded profile at around R65 a bottle. Confirming that Darling wines are the best value for money in the Cape, by a country mile.

Well done to Wine Machinery for bringing the treasures of the Rhone to Stellenbosch and presenting two of the humblest and most sensible winemakers from France. A super day out in a troll-free zone. Magic!