They’ve all been around before but are back in a new guise.
In the winery
Richard Kershaw MW was Cellarmaster at Kanu from 2003 to 2011 but perhaps more under the radar than his colleague, Mike Dobrovic at sister winery, Mulderbosch.
So, now along comes Richard Kershaw MW with his new Richard Kershaw Wines range and, at the launch of his Platter 5* Clonal Selection Elgin Chardonnay 2012, touches on – with infectious enthusiasm – every aspect of consequence in his wine (geeks’ paradise!): from climate, soils, geography to clones (‘this important and often disregarded aspect of varietal choice’) chosen specifically for Elgin’s cool climate (apparently it is the Cape’s coolest wine growing region), each providing different aromatic and structural qualities. A tasting of the three clones involved indeed proved their individuality. Given the importance Kershaw attaches to clones, he shows a nice sense of wit in naming his wine club, Clonehead Club. See more details here.
It might be easy to imagine that with his meticulous attention to detail and leaving nothing to chance (though he does admit it could take several years to sort out all the oaking permutations!), Kershaw’s chardonnay could taste formulaic. Thank goodness that’s far from the truth. It sounds clichéd to say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but it is, even in this still very youthful stage there is a real sense of personality. It has the brightness and tension I love and believe give Elgin chardonnays their individuality but there’s also an undercurrent of creamy purity. It’s frustrating to think little will be put aside for a few years, when all the indications are it will evolve into a much more interesting wine. If you must open now, giving it an hour or so in a decanter would do it much favour.
We also tasted the dual clone syrah, due for release next March; again its freshness subtle oaking and extraction are of much appeal but the extra few months before release should benefit its integration.
Please don’t imagine Kershaw’s attention to detail ends with the growing and vinification, it also covers his bottles and labels, not something winemakers usually find necessary to comment on. The labels in particular are of interest.
Blue is a colour that rarely works well on wine labels; here, in French Navy rather than anything too glaringly bright, it does and denotes Elgin’s cool climate – It’s cool to be cool says Kershaw, before we turn to the back label, where ‘Elgin, the cooler place to be’ is written across a map of Elgin. Look closely and you’ll see several small blue dots; these mark ‘Richard’s special places’, ie vineyards where the grapes come from but because they’re not registered as single vineyards, he’s unable to mention them.
Then there are the watermarks at the top lefthand side of the label and around the capsule. ‘C’ signifies 1970, the year Kershaw was born. His birthplace, Sheffield in the English county of Yorkshire, is reflected in the middle watermark depicting the stamp for silver made in Sheffield and refers to the white rose of that county. More readily recognisable is the knotted rope watermark; outside of wine, Kershaw is a keen sailor. These add a personal touch and individuality to this new range.
Kershaw is also ambitious, not least in his pricing; the wine sells for R290 a bottle – around the same price as Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay, which, it’s fair to say, has a rather longer track record. I personally feel very positive about this first wine (if less about my bank balance) and the future of Richard Kershaw Wines, which adds to the growing list of the Cape’s top quality producers..
and in the bakery
George Jardine is up to his elbows in dough and is loving it! First there was Jordan Winery, then Jardine at Jordan restaurant and now The Bakery & Deli at Jordan, a trio which add value to the prospect of one of the Cape’s most spectacular views. In fact with this new venue, which offers more casual but equally delicious fare and a whole range of delicious breads, visitors need not fret about the restaurant being full; there’s plenty to satisfy all. And more in store. An area has been set aside in the Deli for curing meat. On less than clement days, there’s cheerful seating inside, but the real winner is the new wooden deck in the shade of the trees and overlooking the dam. One couldn’t want for a more bucolic setting.
The opening of the Bakery & Deli combined with 21st vintage celebrations of Jordan wine. Gary & Kathy had dug deep in the cellar, coming up with a fascinating retrospective. Jordan Barrel-fermented Chardonnay 1996 (there was nothing older left) was just deliciously mature yet still had a strong vein of freshness. But the 2007 Nine Yards Chardonnay, still youthfully unevolved, promised the most complexity. Among the Cabernet and Cobblers Hill selection, 1993 cab was a sentimental, if fading reminder of the first vintage. Anyone still holding some 2001 Cobblers Hill are in for a happy surprise; a slightly larger than usual cab franc component imparts a finer fragrance and complexity to this harmonious wine. There’s no need to rush to drink up.
And don’t believe this will be the last of the astute Jordans’ innovation; both Gary and Kathy are qualified brewers …