Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard
Late afternoon sun brought the regular Monday evening tasting at the Vineyard Hotel, Newlands outdoors to its best location with the superb views over the East side of Table Mountain. The good weather brought out many guests to sample 4 wines from Vrede en Lust. The splendid fountain was empty for the first time, a sure sign of the acute drought in Cape Town and the Western Cape. I joined as I have yet to visit the estate that lies roughly midway between Paarl and Stellenbosch, South of the N1, and nestling close to the Simonsberg Mountain. Edie brought 1 bottle each of 4 wines for tasting to show off a representative selection of the Vrede en Lust range. These were mostly from the Premium Range, with 1 bottle from the Flagship Range. She explained to the eager guests that the Artisan Range of wines was available only at the Cellar together with a few specialist outlets.
First up was a white blend enticingly called White Mischief. This was an unusual wine being made from 6 cultivars from the Vrede en Lust Elgin farm (Casey’s Ridge) and the product of a winemaker at play, hence the name. I liked the forwards nose and the dry to off-dry character but the multi-cultivar wine confused. There were aromatic herbaceous, fruity and floral notes. Unsurprisingly, I found it difficult to pick out individual flavours.
The Father and Daughter ‘Jess’ Pinotage/Shiraz Rosé, pale salmon to onion skin in colour, showed more distinct aromas of candy, strawberry and raspberry. It was a classic summer Rosé: good colour; simple mouthfeel; reasonable acidity; undemanding and easy drinking. I am sure it sells well.
My favourite wine of the tasting – and of most of my fellow guests too – was the only single cultivar wine. The French-styled Syrah was called Lady J after Johanna, the 80 year-old ouma of the farm. Warm, juicy but not over-ripe, aromatic notes of red and dark fruits brought great complexity. The mulberry, redcurrant, cherry and dark plum flavours came forwards on the palate but then softened as a rich peppercorn spiciness emerged after, held up by edgy tannins. I would have bought a bottle had the opportunity arisen.
The final wine of the tasting was the Boet Erasmus, named after Etienne Buys who introduced the owners to fine wines, was appropriately from the Flagship Range. The website describes the wine as a ‘New World Bordeaux style blend’. It was an inviting ruby red and medium to full body in appearance. Like the Syrah, the wine had a prominent nose with red berry, dark plum, cassis, cherry and blackberry aromas hiding white peppercorn notes beneath. The follow through was positive with tannins well balanced with the fruit and alcohol (14%) on the palate.
The Monday evening mini tastings at the Vineyard Hotel are invariably enjoyable. This, like others, well set the scene for a future estate visit. The wines were decent and reasonably priced with the 2 red wines showing good value for money for their quality. I shall look forwards to visiting Vrede en Lust – and shall certainly look out for the Lady J as well as the rest of the ranges. Who knows, I might even see the ouma herself too!
Wines tasted (bought *):
2016 White Mischief (Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier) – R79
Jess Rosé (Pinotage, Shiraz) – R69
2013 Lady J Syrah – R119 FAVOURITE WINE
2013 Boet Erasmus (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec) – R185