It’s funny how there are always certain tastings you do every year that turn out to be so engaging, enlightening but most of all, fun. Tonight’s Masterclass with Ian Naude certainly falls into this category.
I’ve known Ian for over 20 years and have always admired the way he goes about making wines. Known as a master blender of whites as well as reds, it is generally accepted that Ian Naude is the father of the white blend movement in South Africa.
I was lucky enough to be asked to be one of the guest speakers at the 4th White Blend Conference at Forest 44 in Stellenbosch way back in 2009. Arriving in Cape Town a few days after one of the most devastating storms in recent Stellenbosch history, I joined the stage with German winemaker Peter Fischer and Eben Sadie, to host an incredible event in front of over 90+ winemakers. In the audience were most of the next generation of winemakers…. the current young guns… Chris Mullineux, Donovan Rall, Gottfried Mocke and Chris Alheit etc. I hardly knew these names at the time. Now they are all long term suppliers and close friends.
Tonight Ian got another opportunity to expound his philosophy of blending as well as his passion for South Africa’s Old Vine culture. Billed primarily as an Old Vine Masterclass, the tasting happily started with a tasting of Ian’s Adoro 3 Regions Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ( 90/100), his Naude White Blend 2009 (93/100) and his Adoro Red Blend 2007, featuring Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot (93+/100). All beautifully complex and youthful.
Then on to the real business at hand, the Naude Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Cinsaut, and Semillon… with his “Rayas’esque” Grenache ending the flight before sweetening our palates up with his excellent late harvest Mourvèdre.
Naude Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2013, 12 Abv ~ Perfumed peach stone fruits, green pear, quince, and lovely complex struck match flinty notes. Subtle smokey depth, pineapple, jasmine and supple soft texture. Very elegant with ultra fine musk and spiced apple richness. Wow, what a wine. True marriage of classism and precision (95/100).
Naude Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015, 12.5 Abv ~ Perfumed apple skins, boiled green apple Bon Bons, musk and waxy incense. Palate is youthful, sleek, and light on its feet. Acids are soft and rounded by extra lees contact making this wine so creamy, luxurious, and and voluptuous. Very opulent and youthful but should evolve nicely (94/100).
Naude Old Vine Semillon 2014 ~ Dusty, spicy wet grey slate, crushed gravel, green tinned fruit freshness. Layers of white fruit, white pepper, and mouth watering stone fruits make for a crisp, electric palate with a spicy apple and herby green tea finish. Very classy (93/100).
Naude Old Vine Cinsaut 2014 ~ Dusty, musky perfume rise out the glass, showing nuances of rose petals and strawberries. Pithy, garrigue herby notes develop. Palate is fleshy, mid weight suave and seamless with precise tannins, harmonious elegance and a lovely jasmine, rhubarb crumble finish (93+/100).
Naude Old Vine Cinsaut 2015 ~ All together more youthful, taught and exotic than the 2014. Shows complex layers of lychee, rose petals, fleshy yellow fruits, raspberry, and bramble berry fruit with a pronounced granitic mineral accent underpinned by chalky tannins. Plenty of structure and intensity. An impressive wine in its youth (94/100).
Naude Grenache 2014 ~ Not quite qualifying for the Old Vine Series status with “only” 18 year old vines, this wine is equally impressive with deep, dark, earthy, foresty, bramble fruits, caramelised cherries, pink musk and Bon Bon sweet fruits. Plenty of old world furry tannins, mid palate density and an intense, profound, exotic finish. Let’s hope this is not a one-off jackpot wine! (95/100)
Adoro Late Harvest Mourvèdre 2013 ~ An icon wine in the Adoro range, this late harvest wine has around 60g/l RS with a balancing 9TA and 14 Abv natural. Soft and fresh fruited, there is beautiful crunchy, plummy forest fruits, subtle sweetness, tart crunchy acids and pithy bitter black chocolate opulence. Very vinous and luxurious but not heavy or laboured in any respect. The perfect restaurant digestive (93/100).
After the tasting, Ian confided in me that halfway through the masterclass, he felt really worried as the 18 guests were so silent! He was concerned he was boring them. On the contrary, they were absolutely enthralled, hanging on every word from his lips. Spellbound.
This memorable evening was capped off with a fantastic meal together at Medlar Restaurant in Chelsea. Head sommelier Christopher Delalonde MS expertly conducted proceedings, serving several fantastic blind wines over the course of dinner.
Big thank you to everyone who made this such an enjoyable evening. Can’t wait to do it all again next year!