Early releases of wines, mostly rosés and whites, from the 2018 vintage have begun rolling in, and we’ve also been tasting some impressive ones during our stay in Cape Town. The always impressive Ricardo Santos 2018 Semillon from Mendoza and Lukas van Loggerenberg’s 2018 Break a Leg Cinsaut Blanc de Noir from Paarl are two standouts.
CHILE AND ARGENTINA
Apaltagua 2018 Pinot Gris Reserva San Antonio Valley Chile ($13) 88 This is an aromatic wine with good palate weight showing crisp green apple and green grass and herbal notes. Similar flavor profile to a green Sauvignon Blanc. Flavorful with good acidity but not typical of Pinot Gris.
Apaltagua 2018 Rosé Carmenere Reserva Maule Valley ($13) 89 Very pale pink with coaxing aromas of red raspberry. Reticent but very fresh light red cherry and berry flavors with firm acidity and a lingering sense of minerals. Rich extract on the finish. Not as austere as past rosés from Apaltagua.
Calcu 2018 Rosé Reserva Especial ($13) 89 Light pink with fresh red berry scents. There’s very good freshness of raspberry and sour cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is richly flavored with lingering notes of dried and fresh red cherry and a sense of minerality. A blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot.
Calcu 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Reserva Especial Colchagua Valley ($13) 89 Lime, kiwi, and whiffs of fresh garden thyme and oregano aromas are mirrored on the palate complemented by generous sweet passion fruit and grapefruit flavors. A richly flavored, full bodied Bordeaux blend that is a real value bargain. A blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 330% Semillon.
Funckenhausen Dry Rosé Mendoza ($15) 87 Medium pink salmon. Revealing a light floral, rose like bouquet, the Funckenhausen offers a light but clean palate that evokes minerals more than fruit. A blend of 85% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc from the San Rafael region of southern Mendoza. Comes in a one liter format.
Ricardo Santos 2018 Semillon Mendoza ($16) 91 This is, as usual, one of the better Semillons coming out of the Western Hemisphere. Notes of lemon, olives and herbs on the nose and a lovely, suave, and almost unctuous, densely flavored palate. It’s a treat to review this wine each year, and it never disappoints. The 2018 is an especially fresh vintage.
A A Badenhorst 2018 Cinsaut Syrah Swartlands 90 A vibrant, medium weight Rhone red blend showing appealing dark cherry and plum fruit. Exuberant flavors, superb freshness and good length. Best served on the cool side.
Break a Leg 2018 Cinsaut Blanc de Noir Paarl 91 Pale copper pink. Excellent Cinsault-based rosé that shows real character. More minerals than fruit but with good flavor density and an appealing savory note that makes it a great food wine. Rich extract on a prolonged finish, too. Lukas van Loggerenberg has a real knack for Cinsault.
Constantia Royale 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Constantia 91 Showing bright quince and lime zest on the nose, this Sauvignon Blanc is full in the mouth with perfect acid balance and pure flavors of passion fruit and lime, finishing with chalky minerals. Sourced from Nova Zonnestraal vineyards in Constantia; the winery focuses on Sauvignon Blanc. Stellenbosch grad Roger Burton has made the wine since 2013 using Steenberg’s facilities.
Eagles Nest 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape 89 The Eagles Nest Sauvignon Blanc is clean and fresh with bright aromas and flavors of lime and kiwi with touches of passion fruit and thyme. It’s fruit forward, but there’s good intensity and length.
Glen Carlou 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé Simonsberg-Paarl 90 There’s vivacious, light red cherry fruit with a freshness that evokes wet river stones in this thirst quenching rosé. Good balance, too. One of the very best rosés we’ve had from South Africa.
Tokara 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape 90 Made in a balanced style that reveals both white citrus and light grassy herbal notes, this is an easy drinking wine that’s packed with flavor and has the exhilarating acidity for which South African Sauvignon Blanc has become famous.