I was surprised to see a range of wines showing different labels for the Monday evening tasting from L’Ormarins. I knew the estate was close by the Franschhoek Motor Museum but little else. The website offers little of the background or history to the winery but does give tantalising clues to the breadth and extent of the range. You will not find L’Ormarins listed in the Platter’s South African Wine Guide either. Instead, you will find scant details (wine ratings not given) under Anthonij Rupert Wyne. Anthonij Rupert is the umbrella for the Anthonij Rupert, L’Ormarins, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo and Protea wine labels. Also made under the L’Ormarins label – but not included in the tasting today – are the Sagnac (an Armagnac styled brandy) and an Eau de Vie that is fermented from ripe litchi pulp. Tasting booking by appointment is advised.
The Brut MCC made in the prosecco style made a refreshing aperitif. Light and fruity with distinct grapefruit aromas, the wine comes in a beautiful gold topped bottle. It is made from free run juice and 2 years on the lees, was elegant if undemanding. This is what one sometimes needs and the MCC is excellent value at R120 a bottle.
In contrast, the Altima Sauvignon Blanc demanded more attention. Fresh acidity and gooseberry and guava aromas made for a clean mouthfeel. The grapes come from one of the 4 Anthonij Rupert farms, high up at 600m to 700m in Villiersdorp (others being in Franschhoek, Darling and the Swartland), where they benefit from late morning and afternoon sun.
The second pair of wines came from the Terra del Capo range. I learned that Anthonij Rupert was the first to introduce Italian grape cultivars to South Africa in the 1970s. That must have been a far-sighted decision at the time given the current growing popularity of Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese and Primitivo (Zinfandel). Pinot Grigio is an excellent wine and a favourite of mine. It is less fruity and acidic than Sauvignon Blanc but with slightly more body to make a great alternative. It is generally competitively priced too. R65 a bottle is typical. Grapes from rolling hills in Darling are used to make the wine. I liked the refreshing palate and fruity to grassy flavours.
My favourite wine of the tasting was the Sangiovese. I showcased it at the Society Italian Cultivar tasting in August. Think Chianti or Montepulciano and you will drink Sangiovese. The aromas of cranberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant and mulberry were inviting and intoxicating in their complexity. Light to medium in body, the wine nonetheless has high tannin but low to average acidity. It was smooth on the palate and left a pleasant mouthfeel. This is an ideal wine for any tomato-based or Italian food.
As ever with the Monday evening wine tastings at the Vineyard Hotel, the occasion was short and sweet though a little cramped indoors and out of the welcome rains. It achieved its purpose though as it showcased a broad range and styles. I must add L’Ormarins – and a return visit to the Franschhoek Motor Museum – to my list of things to do in the near future!
Wines tasted (bought *):
NV L’Ormarins MCC Brut Classique (55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir) – R120
2016 Elandskloof Altima Sauvignon Blanc – R180
2017 Anthonij Rupert Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio – R65
2017 Anthonij Rupert Terra del Capo Sangiovese – R85 FAVOURITE WINE