Over recent years, many South African wineries have put more and more time and effort into not only seeking out more ideal terroirs for the mainstream premium grape varieties already dominant on local and international markets but also into experimenting with new and more exotic red and white varieties in an effort to mitigate for future wine market changes as well as possible climate change influences.
Glen Carlou Vineyards with their 145 hectares located in the Simonsberg-Paarl region is one such winery. After being owned for many years by the Swiss Hess Collection, Glen Carlou was brought back into local ownership in 2016 when it was purchased by a South African family consortium. Since then, significant investment has been put into a vineyard replanting programme to secure the future of this respected wine brand. Over the past two years, Glen Carlou has released several interesting “Collection Wines” including Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Petite Syrah Malbec and Grenache Noir. The latest of these releases is an exciting Tannat red wine made from grapes grown on a 0.6 hectare plot located on the highest point of their estate. The 15 year old block is planted on primarily Tukulu and Vilafonte soils using SO4 rootstocks and clone TT401B.
Cellarmaster Johnnie Calitz and assistant winemaker Phillip Theron have primarily used the wine produced in the past for blending but 2018 sees a single variety Tannat added to the Collection Range. The grapes were fermented in a small single lot and handled with minimal intervention. The wine spent 24 months in second fill French oak barrels being left on its fine lees with no racking or movement during maturation. The 2018 Tannat was recently awarded the 2020 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year award.
The Glen Carlou Collection Tannat 2018, WO Simonsberg-Paarl, 14.5% Abv.
RS 4.7 g/l | TA 5.9 g/l | pH 3.46
This is a wonderfully intriguing red wine. Tasted from a Zalto Bordeaux glass, the aromatics are lifted, rich and expressive with sappy layered notes of leafy black plums, macerated black berries, piquant black cocoa chocolate and notes of freshly cut hedgerow. On the palate there is a dense, voluptuous, exotic creamy texture with seductive notes of blueberries in melted chocolate, black cherries macerated in sweet liquor with fine glassy framing tangy acids and robust sandy mineral tannins that add sufficient grip but aren’t particularly drying as the palate fruit weight lubricates all the extremities of the mouth. A slightly eccentric wine that challenges and titillates the palate in equal measure. If you have never drunk a French or Uruguayan Tannat, this is certainly a fine introduction to the grape albeit with African styling. This looks a good bet for another 6 to 8+ years in the cellar but also perfect to start drinking now. (900 bottles produced.)
(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)