What I Drank Last Night
Good Booze. Good Food. Good Company.


Steenberg Magna Carta 2010

Serious stuff.

An invitation to the annual Steenberg Magna Carta new release party is becoming the most desirable in the winelands. Last night the launch of the 2010 vintage, this wine served next to Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2007, the 2009 next to Chateau d’Yquem “Y” 2008 and the 2007 next to Château Pontet-Canet 2004, the red presumably intended to provide some relief from the whites but entirely unnecessary. The venue was Tintswalo Lodge at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, the brilliant Franck Dangereux of The Foodbarn chef for the evening.

It really has been a treat to follow the Steenberg winemaking team as they seek to realise a particular vision, each vintage seeing them tweaking this or that in an effort to reach perfection. Remarkable about the 2010 is more oak influence: a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon, the two varieties are harvested separately with the Semillon being fermented in barrel. After blending, the wine went back in to barrel, a combination of 500L and 600L French oak barrels used, 45% new, 35% second fill and 20% third fill; all French oak, where it was matured for nine months (previously the wine returned to tank). This extra time in oak was done “to kickstart evolution” according to winemaker JD Pretorius and to my mind has definitely helped integeration.

Scores and tasting notes for the Steenberg wines as follows:

Steenberg Magna Carta 2010: 18/20
Cellar price: R460
Hugely complex nose showing green bean, lime, tangerine, a hint of vanilla and a slight flinty note. Great delineation on the palate. Not entirely delicate but plenty of finesse – really multi-faceted, each sip revealing a different character. Fresh but not aggressive acidity, attractive herbal bite on the finish.

Steenberg Magna Carta 2009: 16/20
60% Sauvingon Blanc (including a portion of Durbanville fruit) and 40% Semillon. Big and rich with driving acidity. Oak-derived vanilla character, herbal through tangerine flavours. Appears to be going through an awkward phase.

Steenberg Magna Carta 2007: 17/20
59% Sauvignon Blanc, 41% Semillon. Starting to mellow and not as singular as it used to be. Still some green character but naartjie and tangerine notes now define it. Full bodied, pleasantly thick textured with a long finish. Nicely understated.

Previous reviews of Magna Carta
2007 – 3 September 2012
2009 – 1 March 2011

Comments

  1. We previously spoke about the 2 older vintages of the Magna Carta and you felt it was peaking and should be drunk sooner rather than later.  Do you still feel that way?  We’re still sitting on a few bottles of these and I’m eyeing a vertical in a vintage or 2′s time.  

    • Hi Hennie, I encountered Magna Carta 2007 a while back in a line-up that included the likes of Cape Point Isliedh 2005 and Tokara Director’s Reserve 2010 and for me it was a little overshadowed. I’ve had it on one or two occasions subsequently and it’s shown much better – I’m starting to feel that this is a wine that’s going to have ongoing ups and downs (especially as the tension between the Sauvignon and Sem components is resolved over time) and my instinct is that the 2007 will be good for at least another two or three years. As always, there’s a certain subjective element to all this – at the 2010 launch function, there were guests who thought the 2009 was absolutely knock-out.

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