It was International Grenache Day this past Friday and to mark the occasion Neil Ellis Wines hosted a vertical tasting of its wine from this variety.
Grapes come from a Piekenierskloof block planted in 1954 – bush vines, ungrafted and not irrigated. It’s 2.5ha and size and thanks to the “haasbek” (gaps in plantings were individual vines have died out) typically yields under two tons/ha – whatever it bears shared between Neil Ellis and Vriesenhof.
Neil Ellis says that when he first saw the vineyard, it was all about instinct. “You can apply the sciences only so much. I just had this feeling something “lekker” can happen here.”
Seven vintages on show. Tasting notes and scores as follows:
Includes 15% Jonkerskhoek Shiraz. Red fruit, spice and scrub but also leather and some meaty character. Spiky acidity and relatively rustic but hanging in there.
Complex nose – some residual red fruit, spice and just the right amount of developed notes to entice. All this follows through to the palate making for a wonderfully flavourful drinking experience. Great fruit purity, fresh acidity and a long, spicy finish. Time in bottle has served this wine well and I would guess it still has at least three more years.
Slight reductive note to go with prominent oak on the nose. Primary fruit has dissipated but still weighty and powerful – tannins still very firm, the finish a bit astringent.
Red and black berrries, earth, spice and attractive oak – subtle and complex. Concentrated fruit, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins lending good shape and form. Still coming into its own.
Current release – price: R275 a bottle
Shy nose. Red fruit, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Pretty and appealing but seems to lack the gravitas of really good vintages.
Very attractive with a floral top note to go with red and spice on the nose. Rich and ripe with fresh acidity and quite soft tannins.
Raspberry, strawberry, a not unpleasant hint of reduction and attractive oak spice. Perfectly delineated fruit, lip-smacking acidity and fine-grained, spicy tannins. A wine of great composure – almost impossible to resist now but should bring at least five years of further drinking pleasure.