Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block Red Blend 2011
Other Red Blends from South Africa
The influence of the Grenache's red fruits on this wine is striking. The nose shows an abundance of redcurrant, plums, crushed rock, and an array of spices. The floral notes adds to its complexity. The freshness of the wine puts its head in front of the previous vintages. Spicy oak aromas cover a rounded mid-palate that reveals layers of fruit with intense purity. Textured, composed and seamless in style.
International Wine Cellar - "Good full medium red. Highly aromatic nose melds blackberry, licorice, menthol and spicecake. Sweet and supple but juicy and primary too, with harmonious acidity framing and intensifying the dark fruit and spice flavors. A serious, youthfully aggressive midweight with substantial building, tongue-dusting tannins and a late note of balsamic nutty oak. Already quite perfumed but in need of at least another year or two in the cellar to express itself.
The name "Boekenhoutskloof" comes from the Cape beech, or Kaapse boekenhout, a tree indigenous to Franschhoek and once used by the Cape Dutch for furniture making. It is pronounced, not easily, bok-un-hoatscloof. The winery's white-washed, Dutch-style farmhouse, dated 1771, once stood in an orchard; pears still plump up in the trees around it. Kent and his partners, including South Africa's consummate ad-men John Hunt and Reg Lascaris, have never advertised the wine. And still the bottles - each with a sleek hand-torn label picturing seven different Capestyle chairs, one for each partner - keep selling out.
Kent is now studying to be a master of wine, one of three in South Africa taking the seriously competitive international course rather than the regional one. He's not got hubris enough to presume the post himself; he's already saturated in the business of making Boekenhoutskloof, as well as the winery's second label, Porcupine Ridge.
While he sounds casual about his craft ("It's a series of decisions, and when you make them"), small details give away his obsessive streak. His dogs are called Petrus and Gaja. View all Boekenhoutskloof 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.
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