2008 – The Cape Fair, visiting Elim

Elim is home to the Cape’s most southerly vineyards.  I was first introduced to the huge potential of its wines by The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc which I sold in Oddbins’ Fine Wine, so great to taste a vertical of The Berrio and affirm its ageworthiness.

Latitude, proximity to the coast and very cool, strong south-westerly breezes (for which I can personally vouch!), together with diverse soils underwrite the quality of Elim’s whites.  Quartzite soils make for mineral wines, yellow iron ferroxide gives asparagus and capsicum flavours while clay/shale produces more tropical notes.

My tasting notes usually focus on the highlights but given that this is an up-and-coming region where work is clearly in progress I’ve typed up all my notes to give a feel for where Elim is at.  Whites are its stronger suit – no surprises there given the cool climate but clearly the First Sighting Syrah suggests there’s scope for some mid-weight, peppery/lifted Shiraz and their Pinot Noir also shows promise.

White wines

Black Oystercatcher Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – very methoxypyrazine (green herbal/grassy) nose, with fruitier grapefruit characters on the palate – pretty lean though 14% abv.

Black Oystercatcher Sauvignon Blanc 2008
– better balance with less overt methoxy characters, a touch of sweetness to the grapefruit; nice mineral edge. 12.5% abv.

Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc 2008
– quite flinty with a nice weight of gooseberry and grapefruit together with tropical and herbaceous hints. 13% abv.

Strandveld Adamstor 2007
– a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc; the oak currently dominates a lemony, juicy palate – needs time to fill out.

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – fresher, crisper with a grassy nose and, in the mouth, a flinty, mineral undertow to its rich core of passionfruit and elderberry fruit.  Very good.

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2007
– juicy ripe passionfruit and zesty, lemony acidity. 13.5% abv.

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2006
– a smoky, sweet herbal character with good fruit weight on the palate and attractive balancing lemony acidity. 13% abv.

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2005
– quite Riesling-like with a lovely floral, honeyed nose and a fresh citrus and elderflower palate with a limpid, mineral finish.  Very good. 13% abv

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2004
– quite broad with gooseberry and white peach, some elderberry, still good freshness and limpidity to the finish. 14% abv.

The Berrio Sauvignon Blanc 2003
– hmm, confirms my thoughts on plastic cork – oxidised. 14% abv.

Flagstone Cape Winemakers Guild The Weathergirl 2006
– a more or less 50:50 blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, barrel fermented and aged.  Tight, lemony and herbaceous; very polished and poised – needs time but lots of potential.

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – a tightly clasped herbaceous nose, yet shows surprising  richness and depth to the palate; great intensity and mouthfeel with a flinty vein – youthful with lots of potential. 12.5% abv.  David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg shows sensitivity and aplomb with cool climate wines.

David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Semillon 2008 –
a real rasp of Semillon herbaceousness, long, stony-faced quiet/subtle wine; a real food wine.  Again, tight now but lots of potential. 13% abv.

Zoetendal Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – very crisp and fresh with fresh cut apples and leaner grapefruit.  Good. 12.5% abv.

First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – a green, herbaceous style; a little too green in profile for my taste. 13.5% abv.

First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2008
–  herbaceous but with more fruit (apple and passionfruit) to balance; quite lean acidity. 13% abv.

Red wines

Zoetendal Shiraz 2007 – mid-weight style with sweet blood plum and toasty oak.  Lacks  conviction. 14% abv.

Zoetendal Mile 2006 – a Bordeaux blend, with a smoky, dark olive, warm palate – over-extracted. 15% abv.

First Sighting Shiraz 2006 – blood plums and, with vibrant cracked black pepper, this is very spicy and lifted with good freshness and definition.  Promising. 15% abv.

Strandveld Shiraz 2006
– drying tannins clamp in the fruit.  Query if there is enough fruit to await some mellowing of said tannins. 14.5% abv.

First Sighting Pinot Noir 2007
– good varietal typicity with red fruits and earthier, savoury beetroot and sous bois.  Promising. 14% abv.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
September 2008

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