Iona The Gunnar 2006
Other Red Blends from South Africa
Deep black cherry fruit lends this wine a distinctive plushness and complexity on the palate, supported by a firm body and good length, balanced by Iona's characteristic natural acidity.
42% Merlot, 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
The Wine Advocate - "Named after a Viking son, 2006 The Gunnar is a Bordeaux blend consisting of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot that undergoes 12 to 18 months in barrel with around 30% new oak. The nose displays impressive definition with lively, crisp red currant, raspberry and dark plum fruit with just a faint hint of tar and cedar wood. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, good acidity, well integrated new oak and an expressive, Bordeaux-like finish with touches of graphite and tobacco. Drink now-2015. "
In 1997 Andrew Gunn, an engineer by training, bought land in the Kogelberg overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Elgin, South Africa. After purchasing the farm, Gunn began examining the climate’s history and determined that the conditions on the 420m high mountain plateau were similar to those in the famed Bordeaux region.
Named after a Scottish island, Iona’s altitude and cool summer winds blowing off the Atlantic Ocean contribute to a unique environment and ensure that the wine’s sugar, pH, acid and flavor compounds are in perfect balance. Iona is located on one of the coolest climate sites in South Africa and they harvest up to 4 weeks later than other regions in South Africa.
The first vines were planted in 1998, and the wines have quickly established a cult following for their Sauvignon Blanc. Niels Verburg, the winemaker, enjoys elegant wines that truly reflect their site, and at Iona he makes wines that are unique and flavorful but low in alcohol. View all Iona Wines
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.