Hello all, after a brief hiatus due to various work commitments, we're back to South Africa for this post. Glenelly is a South African vineyard with a rather intriguing 'twist'. It's owned by none other than Madame de Lencquesaing, the former owner of the exceptional 'super second' Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, who feels South Africa's soils, grapes and climate provide a perfect canvas for Bordeaux-style winemaking. If you have read one or two of my other posts, you'll know it's clear that I also subscribe to this opinion!
As Madame de Lencquesaing's first name is May, the name of this wine provides us with a fairly strong clue as to what to expect. A Bordelais statement in a New terroir, so certainly something different from the usual meaty smokiness that I love so much in South African Cabernet Sauvignon blends. If I remember correctly from the back of the bottle (now in the recycling somewhere in climes unknown), the statue on the front of the bottle is a very young version of Lady May herself! So, onto the wine - decanted for 2 hours and tasted again after 4.
Colour: I felt the need to include a colour section for this wine in particular (as I haven't bothered doing it for other wines so far) because it really is quite extraordinary. I removed the cork and there was almost no colour to it - a rather pale pink that I would associate with Burgundy rather than a heavy Cab Sauv - so I was extremely surprised when I poured out an almost black wine. It is incredibly deep and almost entirely opaque. Quite intriguing that it stained the cork so little. If someone knows how/why this is I would appreciate a comment about it!
Nose: Whoomph. There is an almost overpowering aroma of coffee. There is a hint of hay and barnyard aromas - a slight sourness that perhaps leads into some intensely dark chocolate. Fruit is not overly evident and was not overly evident on later tasting. This, I believe, is where the fact that the wine is so young has had its effect. That's not to say that the nose is closed, as it is certainly not, it is simply that it is currently slightly unbalanced and I look forward to seeing the effect of some time on the bottle (although 10 years may be too long to wait!). There's some real heat in this nose - reminiscent of chilli chocolate (Montezuma Chocolate make it and it's quite intriguing!). In sum: Coffee, hay, dark dark chocolate and some chilli and heat at the end.
Palate: At the first taste I noted massive coffee backed by 'solid' fruit - the fruit, however, was tight and restrained. This, I am sure, is the emphasis of Lady May's Bordelais heritage and a conscious move away from South African style to a more Old World effort. The bitterness of the coffee and dark chocolate definitely comes through near the end, but there isn't harshness to it, so it's not a negative point. On the later tasting (4 hours decanted) I got blackcurrant coming to the fore with the coffee moving to a supporting role (but a rather loud supporting role!). After 5 hours the coffee began to calm down a little, encouraging me to keep trying it.
Finish: As above, fading away into more savoury aromas. A hint of leather coming through (perhaps the evolved version of the slightly sour hay and barnyard aromas in the nose?), coffee and a touch of blackcurrant, but it's elusive.
Conclusion: It must be remembered that this is a VERY young wine and intended to be cellared for a good few years before drinking, so this review will most certainly be coloured by the fact that I am drinking this young. As a result, I find it extremely hard to give it a rating as I don't think it will be a fair analysis. I found this wine extremely interesting, but was it really a wine I would drink? I think that it's only fair to wait for at least another 2 years before drinking and ideally 5 or 10. Given all of the expertise that has gone into it, it's certainly an accomplished wine and it is certainly making a statement. I had a heated debate with a reviewer who referred to this as 'typically South African' that divided the room, but I stand by my view that this is a Bordelais wine residing in a South African terroir.
Points: Anything from 85-91.
I would love to hear if anyone else has tried this and what their feelings were! Next time I will do an overnight decant and see what it's like in the morning.