October 18th, 2010

Sarah Goes To Kanonkop (Stellenbosch, SA).

Likened by some to Chateau Montelena, Kanonkop produces top tier wines that demonstrate the elegance and complexity wines in South Africa can achieve. Things are done in a certain way at Kanonkop. For decades they have produced red wines made from Pinotage Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Fermentation takes place in large cement vats. The flagship wine, Paul Sauer, is blended and then left to age. When you have a system that works why change it?

2010 Kanonkop Pinotage Rose: This was the first vintage the winery had produced a rose. It is an excellent example of how delightful rose can be: fruity, dry, a bit boozy. The flavors are light and refreshing: raspberry, basil, green tea, frais du bois, and wet stones.

2008 Kanonkop Kadette: The current vintage of Kadette, a Cape Blend, is comprised of Pinotage (45%), Cab Sauv (29%), Cab Franc (9%), and Merlot (17%). The proportions are adjusted as vintages dictate. The wine spends 14 months in neutral oak. For a wine that is sold as a second label it has great depth and complexity; on the nose flavors of black currant, black cherry, smoke, roasted coffee, pencil and a complementary palate with flavors of cocoa, coffee, biscuits, black currant, grilled meat, black cherry with a spicy finish.  

2008 Kanonkop Pinotage: The fruit for this wine is sourced from 40 year old bush vines and aged for fifteen months in oak that is 70% new. Older vintages become more Burgundian in character and display a Dijon mustard quality. This is a wine of elevated quality with high acid, medium tannins, balance, and structure. The flavor profile of this wine was complex and unusual with aromas of black fruits, savory herbs, cola, coffee, grilled meats. It has a silky texture and tastes of cherry pits, blackberry, black currant, iodine.  

2007 Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon: This cab is a blend of old and new vines whose juice spends 24 months in barrel (half new, half one year old) and then a further year in bottle. It is smooth and rich with structure and bright fruit: red currants, blackberry, floral, roasted coffee, and earth. 2007 Kanonkop Paul Sauer: The current vintage of the Paul Sauer is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), Cabernet Franc (17%), and Merlot (15%). The alcohol is a bit high at 14%, but well incorporated. Unusually, this wine is blended first and then put into barrel where it integrates over a three year period. This wine needs and will benefit from time. It was closed down while tasting revealing only nuanced flavors of roasted coffee, spices, toast, and black currant.