Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block Red Blend 2017
The nose is exceptionally perfumed with an abundance of complex red and dark berry fruit, violets and intense aromas of white pepper. Dark brooding fruit follows through onto a structured, opulent palate with notes of cardamom, cumin, cloves and black pepper. The midpalate is rich, textured and balanced with integrated acidity, cocoa powdery tannins and a definite cedarwood character derived from French oak. White pepper lingers on a smooth, lifted finish.
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A blend of 64% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 11% Cinsault, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Viognier, the 2017 Chocolate Block is dense, rich and fully complex. The nose is filled with red and black fruits and black spices, with well-integrated oak tones of vanilla and nutmeg. There is an underlying minerality about the wine as well. On the palate, the wine is bold and chewy with a tight mineral and tannic grip. The mid-palate is loaded with blackberries, black pepper, dark chocolate and dusty plum. The finish is long and delivers a focused expression of a serious wine and will need time to age, or you will have to enjoy it with a hearty meal to tame the tannins. The full-bodied wine ends with a long finish.
Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776. Located in the furthest corner of the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, the farm’s name means “ravine of the Boekenhout” (pronounced Bookn-Howed). The Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for furniture making. In 1993 the farm and homestead was bought and restored and a new vineyard planting program was established that now includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Semillon, and Viognier. Today, Marc Kent is the owner, chief winemaker, and driving force behind the dynamic farm.
The Story of the Seven Chairs
The Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for making fine furniture. The Boekenhoutskloof label features seven chairs; amongst them the country-style split splat chair made in the neo-classical style with a shouldered top rail and the thonged seat from the late 18th century. Then there’s the Sandveld chair that has two back rails and a thonged seat which made its appearance in the second quarter of the 19th century. The transitional Tulbagh chair was made in the late 18th century; it has a plain back and a shaped top rail with half-round opening. The chairs on the wine labels all pay tribute to the skills of the 18th century craftsmen and their achievements in creating beauty from natural sources, just like the pursuit of fine winemaking.
Originally named Franschhoek meaning the “French Corner” because it was home to the influx of French Huguenots, today the valley contains many historic cellars and is an important tourist location because of its proximity to Cape Town.
This valley falls to the southeast of Paarl and is enclosed on three sides by towering mountains. Streams from the slopes flow down to the valley floor, converging to form the Berg River. The area excels in the production of full-bodied reds.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended red wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines.
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.