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.