What I Drank Last Night
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Porseleinberg 2012

Work in progress.

Work in progress.

The 2012 (Wine Cellar price: R500 a bottle) is the second release from the Swartland property owned by Boekenhoutskloof after the 2010 (they are apparently holding back the 2011).

Wonderfully fragrant nose showing red and black fruit, purple flowers and herbs (a slightly greener note than “fynbos” would designate).

In the mouth, there’s good fruit density (in fact, it’s surprisingly rich given an abv of only 13.5%), lemon-like acidity and fine, powdery tannins. It’s a lot less stalky than the 2010 was on release but there’s still something ever so slightly peculiar on the back palate – to call it an “earthiness” is rather vague but I’m not sure how else to put it. Is this terroir? We shall see…

Score: 91/100.

Comments

  1. Totally agree with George here. How dare someone say Porsenleinberg is not at least 98 points!! SA wine informants need to get out of this groupie mind set and I think Christian is doing this well. Rate a wine for what’s in the glass. Not for who makes it, what the alc is or from which appellation it comes from.

  2. As a wine taster and reader of all wine, I would say Christian is perfectly within his journalistic rights to award this wine a very applaudable 91 remembering it is after all their second release. however I am truly shocked by the response it has got from the learned wine maker/tasters of our industry. As a consumer it sadly confirms the groupie mind set of our supposed wine informants and one obviously wonders the impartiality of their reports…I, based on Christians rating would purchase this wine, but the response it has created is best described as worrying. I have never tasted or heard of a perfect 100.

    • Kwispedoor says:

      Hi, George

      Am I missing something here? Surely people should be allowed differences of opinion, especially as far as matters of taste are concerned.

      In short, it seems as if Christian really likes the wine very much, but he decided not to score it quite as high as some others would. Part of his reasoning is the lack of track record and the fact that he wants to leave some scoring room for the best wines in the world. I don’t see any real problem there.

      Some other commentators on the other hand like the wine even more and would have scored it higher, perhaps feeling that a lack of track record shouldn’t necessarily be held against any wine (how would a 1966 GS Cabernet have been rated a few years from vintage and if they ever made a 1998 vintage of that, how would it have compared?) and perhaps also feeling that some of the most famous wines on the planet don’t always quite reach the same heights in completely blind tastings as they do in hallowed sighted or half-blind tastings – therefore some of our very best wines may well be scored fearlessly high at times. Also not too crazy reasoning, I would think.

      Either way, I found this a really interesting discussion with fair motivations either way about whether the Porseleinberg is very impressive or pants-wettingly good or somewhere in between. I see no smoke, daggers or politics here. I don’t quite get why you are so shocked and worried about the responses here…

      For the record: I’m not a groupie (but the restraining order that Natalie Portman obtained against me, is about to expire, so I’m not ruling out the possibility).

  3. Christian says:

    Geez, this comment thread is getting a bit hectic. Porseleinberg 2012, the greatest red wine ever made in SA? I had Prof Willie Esterhuyse, who facilitated dialogue between the ANC and the apartheid government, teach me Nietzsche. Let’s be careful about our aesthetics and not lose perspective. I’m glad to see such impassioned comment on my blog but it is only wine. I like the Porseleinberg a lot but think there are a few other examples of local Shiraz/Syrah out there of equal merit.

  4. Chris Alheit says:

    Hi folks, i don’t normally comment on other winegrowers wines, but i have to throw in my five cents here. I havn’t read all the comments, and have no intention of disagreeing or agreeing with anyone.
    For me, Porseleinberg is one of the most amazing wines in the Cape. I think that the decades to come will confirm the glory of these early bottlings. Another way of saying it is that Suzy and I are buying the 2012 to put away for our two year old daughter, and we’ll defintely do the same for our boy born in 2014.

  5. RyanTheWineGeek says:

    Porseleinberg is in my humble opinion easily one of the most compelling wines to have ever been made here.
    Significant also because I believe it is a wine where reflecting the taste of a site, a specific terroir is the foremost objective. I always find I drink wines that do that with a sense of reverence.
    Was lucky enough to taste three well regarded Hermitages on Wednesday night and I daresay I would drink Porseleinberg before two of them, regardless of price.
    Also the custodian of Porseleinberg is one of the view real vignerons we have in SA. He grows and vinifies himself, hands on. I think we may look back on these wines in a decade and only then realise their importance and goodness.

  6. I tasted the 2011 and 2012 with Callie on the property back in May. Both are unwooded; the older wine spent 2 years in eggs, the younger a year. Callie realised 2 years was too long and certainly the tannins are far more impenetrable than in 2012. I’ve subsequently tasted the 2012 with Tim James, after it had been open a day or two and what a difference that made, as Roland correctly points out. The gorgeous fruit had a chance to push its way through those dogged tannins. On principle I don’t score wines, but I’m much more impressed than Christian. Oak has subsequently been introduced, older of course, as under the regulations of the Swartland Independents. It will be interesting to see what a difference this makes. I’m pretty sure there’s some Porseleinberg fruit in the Boekenhoutskloof CWG Syrah, one of my wines of the line up.

    • Christian says:

      Who says I’m not impressed with this wine? By my definition, 90 – 92 means “Excellent.” Put it up against Ermitage Le Pavillon Rouge 2011 over lunch and I’m there to have the discussion.

  7. Kwispedoor says:

    I admittedly only had the 2010 briefly in a less-than-ideal situation (WineX) once, but I thought that it was pretty phenomenal (easily higher than a 91). I haven’t had the privilege of tasting the 2012, but what did you rate the 2010, Christian?

    • Christian says:

      Hi Kwispedoor,

      I rated the 2010 17/20 which in retrospect would’ve been a straight 90/100 (I think the 2012 is a shade better). “Pretty phenomenal”? If you can get your hands on SA stuff from the ’70s, then some of it qualifies and as for right now, I think we’re tracking in the right direction but are still significantly off our best.

  8. Roland Peens says:

    Christian, I think you have jumped the gun here. This is a serious, long-aging wine that needs time in the bottle. Drink it over the next week and I guarantee it will earn far more than 91 points!

    • Christian says:

      Hi Roland, As with maiden vintage Cartology, I’m not taking a long position on these early wines from Porseleinberg – I want to give all involved time to really hit their stride (and also have a few more points left on the 100-point scale for when they do). Here’s what I think is happening: Callie Louw, the winemaker/viticulurist, is trying to make extra-edgy and the owners want a bit more polish. Let’s see what happens when they sort out their differences.

      • Tim James says:

        As a late entrant in this discussion, I’m happy to come in on the side of those who think this is undoubtedly amongst the very best syrahs made in the Cape. (But wait till you try the forthcoming Red Reserve from Reyneke!) I was knocked almost speechless by Porsekleinberg – and not only after it had been open for a while. But, Christian, you’ve never been overly impressed with Swartland syrah, I think? I remember pretty modest ratings for the maiden Mullineux Granite and Schist, for example. As to “differences” between Callie Louw and the owners (Boekenhoutskloof), I think you’re wrong. I’ve spoken to both Marc Kent and Rudiger Gretschel about Porseleinberg, and they seem very happy with what Callie is doing – rightly so. (BTW, to take up your provocative feint, generally I think there are a whole lot of wines now that are much superior to the rather few truly excellent reds of the 1970s and earlier.)

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