Plenty of French wine has passed my lips recently, which meant the powerful presence of this interesting South African blend caught me unaware.
It’s a dark purple red in colour, with a herby savoury nose with some layered coffee notes.
So far so average.
But when the full bodied liquid hit my tongue, I realised I was in for a treat.
There’s dark berry fruits, blackcurrant squeezed so its essence lingers amongst the tannins: dry and stretched out. Then the unexpected sweetness emerges, a full almost raisiny dose of concentrated fruitiness that leaves a mouth-filling finish.
Oak is present but well integrated into the wine, its toasty depth fitting with the other more vibrant flavours well.
There are some interesting tastes to discover. I saw that one online reviewer was bemused by what they identified as a tangerine tang. They could be right – there is a slightly odd citrus note if you look for it. But I reckon it works.
Basically, it’s fun. A change from more austere styles but without losing out on complexity and refinement. And make no mistake, this is a quality bottle.
The region it’s from – the Constantia valley, located in an affluent Cape Town suburb – has been growing wine since 1689.
Klein Constantia’s Marlbrook blend has been around a little less time than that: since 1995 according to the producer’s unusually informative website. Here any curious purchasers can find full details of the vintage of the wine they’ve bought – from the weather conditions to the ‘residual sugar’ and precise alcohol level.
This 2007 vintage had an extra week of ripening due to damp weather, has a heady alcohol level of 15.02%, and a pH value of 3.74.
It’s interesting stuff which somehow makes you feel more connected to the wine and where it came from. It doesn’t actually make it taste any better, of course. But in this case, it doesn’t need to.
I got mine from Elwood Wines for £15, which seems about right.