Sunday, 24 February 2013

Morgenster 2004, Flagship Red

My new 'current favourite': whilst not actually called their 'flagship red', Morgenster 2004 is the second vintage of Morgenster Estate's flagship wine and is a classic example of South Africa's take on Bordeaux blends. With solid ageing potential, it is at the higher end of pricing but the 2004 is less costly (at around £30) than other vintages. Morgenster made it clear that they were not intending to make a 'showy' wine, but were rather looking for elegance, quality and balance.

While everyone loves a little bit of marketing and some gimmicks - after all, which winery isn't trying to make a supremely balanced and elegant Bordeaux-style red? - it's important to get through them. This is one of the advantages of tasting wines blind (I use some rather fun tasting sleeves which I shall post up in due course) as it allows the tasters to judge the wine itself, rather than the bottle, labelling, marketing and reputation. This was decanted for 2 hours before drinking and re-tasted at intervals of an hour.

Colour: Being reasonably old, the 2004 has begun to get a hint of tawny at the edges, although not enough for anyone to suggest that this was a seriously old wine.

Nose: Decent vanilla at first showing the oak coming through but then (surprisingly, given the age) a touch of green. Pepper, spices and red berries show the dominance of the Cabernet Sauvignon and there's a leathery edge to things. There's a good level of complexity in the nose and it's strong enough to allow most people to pick up the aromas whilst also showing off a good level of balance. The greenness faded after a further hour. Fruit began to emerge at the 2 hour mark and was more pronounced after 3 or 4 - which also saw the end of the savoury notes, which faded away to be replaced by a punchy dose of white pepper.

Palate: Somewhat muted on the first taste: a hint of vanilla and cedarwood with fruit tickling the back of the tongue. Slightly closed and grassy. After hour 3 this changed entirely. It was sweet and surprisingly light - a hint of astringency that faded away by the fourth hour - and the pepper and cedar remaining at the back end of things. There was a touch of earthiness. An extremely smooth-drinker that greatly impressed - perhaps the marketing isn't all rubbish? Elegance, balance and a distinctly Bordelais style. Nice.

Body: Thin at first, then opened up admirably after hour 3/4. Fairly high tannins and certainly a decent slog of alcohol in there.

Finish: Could be that of a top Bordeaux. All flavours in perfect symmetry with a clear direction and decent length. Supreme body and excellent balance.

Conclusion: Very nice wine - but it needed a LOT of decanting. I would have been hard-pressed to give it above 84 after the first two hours after decanting but it shot up to high 80s after 3 hours and touched 90 after that. If I were to serve it at a dinner I'd aim for serving it at the 3 hour mark, as its strength would be present for the early stages of the meal but then would soften off and become a much easier drinker as the evening progressed. One slightly sad point is that a search of Morgenster Estate's website comes up with 'account suspended' page. Whilst I hope this is only a technical problem, it may be worth buying a bottle or two while you still can.

Points: 90.

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