My first South African Zinfandel! Yes, South Africa makes Zinfandel!
There’s a funny tale to how I acquired this bottle. After a long day at the winery (more on this later), I had no luck hailing an Uber from the farm. I hopped a lift down the road to Mooiberge Farm Stall which I’d always thought was just a strawberry picking farm with the craziest brightly coloured scarecrows.
Mooiberge is a great spot to take the family. And I’ve been to the restaurant, The Thirsty Scarecrow, many times before as an attempt to sober up after a day of wine tasting in Stellenbosch. I was immediately able to secure an Uber, but whilst waiting, I noticed a woman exiting the farm stall with a box of wine. With a 7 minute wait for the Uber…I had to dash to have a look.
Upon entering the farmstall, it looked like typically farmstall fair…all the decorative barrels, homemade jams and preserves that I’d expected. After spotting a row of wines, I headed quickly for the very meagre section. Until one of the assistants beckoned to me. It was Stellies…the chances that I was being lured into a sketchy situation were slim…but hopefully the Uber driver would come to my rescue. So I walked towards the back room that the assistant was gesturing towards.
And thank goodness I did…he led me into a large room filled from floor to ceiling with wine! Nothing nefarious…unless you count spending money I’m supposed to be saving for WSET Diploma level! I need to return to explore and invest in some of their vintage wines ranging from the 80’s to 90’s…further damage to my Diploma savings! Though, I’m very sceptical of the way these bottles were stored upright.
Medium garnet in colour with a medium nose that leads with tertiary stewed dried fruits, tar, potpourri, mushed strawberries that have oxidised, a hint of raspberries, plump sweet sultanas soaked in orange zest and juice, cedar, star anise, a light sprinkle of cloves…and I swear there’s some sweet coconut.
Dry? but it feels sweeter because of the dried fruit bouquet, integrated medium tannins, medium acidity and a medium+ body. Ending with a medium finish of something green and herbal, raspberries, sweet oranges and raisins. The finish feels like a spicy mulled wine with a generous amount of oranges simmered in the wine.
I was surprised by how totally fine I am with this wine. I’m actually going to go so far as to say this was pretty tasty. I would have wanted a fuller mouthfeel and longer finish. But it’s tasty.
Viti + Vini:
Hand harvested from the west facing slopes of Groenberg in Wellington. Warm fermented to extract colour and additional flavours. And aged in French and American oak (yes, nailed it!) for a year. It turns out the RS is 3g/L, which also explained the slight sweetness to the wine.
Balance (1) + Length (½) + Intensity (½) + Complexity (1) = A good wine.
Can be drunk now, but suitable for further ageing. But not too much longer. Zinfandel always confuses me in that it already has all these tertiary aromas and flavours seeing as it ripens unevenly (often the picked bunches will have a combination of dried, ripe, and under ripe berries). Couple that with the medium tannins and acidity…I don’t think you should rely on only the fruit to carry this much further.
I was slightly surprised to find out that Grande Provence dates back 325 years! I remember visiting this farm as a little girl. We had friends who lived in Franschhoek so we’d visit over school holidays. The friends had olive trees in the huge backyard – and this was the first time I tasted a fresh olive…yuck! It was also one of first times I tasted wine – this wine farm’s Angel’s Tears Moscato. Both the name and sweetness were a delight to a 9 year old girl. The farm has since changed owners (and names) multiple times, but they still make the sweet Moscato.
Pierre Joubert, a French Huguenot arrived in SA in 1694 to escape religious persecution in France by King Louis XIV of France. King Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which lead to the persecution of French Protestants (Huguenots). They fled to parts of Europe where The Dutch East India Company (VOC) assisted 150 Huguenots to emigrate to the Cape via Holland between 1688 and 1689. Back then Franschhoek was called Olifantshoek (elephants corner). It had a few names – Fransche Quartier, Le Coin Francais and La Petite Rochelle.
I just spent the weekend in Franschhoek to experience the Franschhoek Wine Tram for the first time. The first tram stop was Grande Provence. I’ve been there once or twice since reaching legal drinking age…and, aside from the spectacular art, the wines never wowed me. I was familiar with most of the wines, so opted to just sip on on a single tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignon whilst wandering their gallery and garden.
In hindsight, and after chatting to a Cape Wine Master who was our neighbour at the AirBnB we stayed at overnight, I should have tried their flagship range. One of the recurring conversations for the weekend was how so many SA wine farms offer such a huge difference in their wine offerings. From bottom shelf entry level wines, to their mid priced premium wines that we all judge them by, to the flagship wines that I believe they should be focusing on instead. The bottom shelf shouldn’t exist if it doesn’t offer easy drinking, party appeal that is still quality wine. Rant aside, it looks like I’ll need to head back to Grande Provence again for their flagship range!
Tasted on back to back flower days according to the Biodynamic Calendar for the SH. I thought I’d noticed that flower days aren’t as enjoyable for me…but this is the first wine to deviate from this pattern.
Find the Wine:
It seems that Grande Provence no longer offer this wine. So here’s the link to the delightful Mooiberge Farmstall instead: