Friday 29 April 2019
Apart from a brief stop to collect a bottle of MCC from Genevieve for later review, I drove from Gabriëlskloof to Arcangeli for my next tasting on my day in Bot Rivier. Arcangeli, fortunately, was much easier to locate than Gabriëlskloof was, located just outside Bot Rivier on the N2 highway. I had made an appointment to taste but later found out that this is no longer necessary. The short but narrow tree-lined drive through vines led to a large parking area beside white Cape Dutch buildings that housed the new Adventura Italian Restaurant and small Tasting Room. Alexonia was my cheerful tasting host.
The Tasting Menu contained just 4 wines with a fifth, the Romulus Nebbiolo, available at R60 per glass. I had seen the elegant, stylistic Arcangeli wine labels elsewhere by my reason for visiting was mostly to taste Verdelho. Fewer than 10 wine estates in South Africa make wine from this Portuguese grape variety (0.08% by vineyard area). Alexonia poured the medium yellow wine from an olive green bottle. The Verdelho had an interesting nose of yellow apple, white pear, vanilla and delicate white jasmine. Acacia flavours emerged on the palate with a mineral saltiness. The wine had medium acidity and medium weight to it, aided by barrel fermentation in old French barrels and malolactic fermentation.
The shiny pale straw coloured Sémillon, once the most planted variety in the Cape but now occupying little more than 1% by area, showed lemon, pineapple, acacia and nettle aromas. The wine was smooth and polished on the palate, with more acidity than the Verdelho, with fullness and good length of lemon citrus flavours.
The 16 hectare farm used to be owned by Portuguese owners. It was named Feiteiras at the time and when the Verdelho was planted, hence the wine name. The property was recently acquired by first generation Italian Sandro Arcangeli and his family. The boutique winery grows 6 grape varieties on just 4.2 hectares of vineyard (Nebbiolo grows on a pergola by the restaurant) that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Verdelho. The vines were planted 15 years ago and face east.
The 2 red wines I tasted were both blends. The first, a Rhône style blend of mostly Syrah (72%) was full bodied with spicy dark fruits, cassis, bramble and black pepper of good intensity on the nose. The drying tannins surprised, being grippy but not too forwards.
The final wine of my mini tasting was a Merlot-led blend of Bordeaux varieties. The dark red fruits had a characteristic Arcangeli sweetness on the nose that I could not put a finger on but was not unpleasant. The wine showed a slight fruity earthiness and acidity that matched the bold, rounded tannins to give tightness on the palate.
I much enjoyed the Arcangeli wines. They offered value for money and good quality with the minimum of fuss. The non-interventionist wines had a distinct house style that I liked and which stood out from so many that aim for the same. I look forwards to tasting the Verdelho again.
Wines tasted (bought*):
2016 Feiteiras Verdelho – R200* FAVOURITE WINE
2016 Sémillon – R150
2016 Syrah/Mourvèdre (72% Syrah, 28% Mourvèdre) – R150
2016 Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (57% Merlot, 28% Petit Verdot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) – R150