Thursday, August 29, 2013

Naked Vine Triple Lindy -- Mulderbosch Winery

Let’s take a little trip southward from Eurasia and the world of Turkish wines through the Suez Canal, across the Red Sea, and down around the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa, shall we? The wine fairy (with an assist from Paul Yanon of Colangelo PR) delivered a package of summer happiness to Naked Vine HQ from Mulderbosch, one of the better-known South African wineries.

Mulderbosch Winery, located in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, has changed hands several times over the last few decades. Mulderbosch was purchased most recently by a group of investors led by Charles Banks, former partner in Napa’s Screaming Eagle winery – one of the most famous of the “cult” California Cabernets. (A bottle of Screaming Eagle will set you back around $1500 at the low end.) Mulderbosch isn’t in the business of making wines quite that high end. These wines run in the much more Vine-friendly $10-20 range.

According to Yanon, “What actually caught [Banks’] eye there is the old vine Chenin Blanc that they have planted. He thinks that there is something really, really interesting he can do with single vineyard selections on the estate.”  Chenin blanc, a white varietal that I’ve grown much more attached to over the last few years, is the “Cape’s signature variety.” Mulderbosch cultivates what they claim is the largest planting of Chenin in the world. I also received a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc, the wine that put Mulderbosch on the map in 1989, and a bottle of rosé to check out. How were they? Let’s go to the videotape…

Mulderbosch 2011 Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout – “Steen op Hout” translates from Afrikaans as “Stone on Wood,” which is a decent descriptor for this particular white. Word to the wise, this is a wine that needs a little time for its natural funk to blow off before. My recommendation would be to crack it and allow at least 10 minutes before you dive in. Once you do, you’ll run into a firm floral nose with a strong lemony tone. The flavor, as promised, has a really nice mineral character alongside a solid backbone of grapefruit. The finish is very flinty with a little bit of a bitter, lemon rind-y aftertaste and just a hint of oak. I love the provided note for this wine: “A delightfully accessible wine that is mouth-wateringly moreish.” Some of the food recommendations for this wine include bobotie, savory mince and saffron rice dish, and biltong, a South African version of beef jerky. We had it with beef and broccoli in a spicy brown sauce and it went quite nicely. $12.

Mulderbosch 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé – My initial note for this wine says, “a rosé of substance.” If you like fruit-forward pink wines, this will be right up your alley. I found plenty of strawberry and peach on both the nose and palate along with just a hint of sweetness. I’d call it “fully fruited.”  It finishes long and fruity, with just a little acidic zing. I thought it made a quality table rosé. We had this with some roasted peppers stuffed with ground turkey, brown rice, pine nuts, and dried cranberries. The meal was hearty and flavorful, and this number from the coastal growing region of South Africa was very pleasant to have in the glass alongside. $11.

Mulderbosch 2011 Sauvignon Blanc – Like it’s chenin blanc cousin above, this sauvignon blanc definitely needs some air when first opened. Otherwise, it will likely taste a little alkaline. Once the wine takes a deep breath, you’re treated to a pungent nose and strong flavors of pineapple and papaya. I thought it had a fair amount of weight and some nice minerality that eases into a lasting, peachy finish. Our first attempt at a food pairing with this wine was a botch. Initially, we tried it with roasted Caribbean-style pork tenderloin and a salad of hearts of palm and black beans. It clashed, so we screwed the cap back on and popped it back in the fridge for the next night -- when we heated up some absolutely scrumptious paella left over from the weekend. Night and day. With the paella, it was an excellent pairing. I should have read the label first. Paella is one of the suggestions. Interestingly, the label also suggests this sauvignon blanc as a match for goat cheese, asparagus, and artichokes -- three notoriously tough foods to pair, so file this one away for future reference. $13.

Mulderbosch also produces two versions of Chardonnay (a standard and a “barrel fermented” that sounds interesting), a late-harvest version of the Sauvignon Blanc, and a Bordeaux-style blend called “The Faithful Hound.” I'm very interested in trying the Charles Banks single vineyard Chenin Blanc creations down the line.

Mulderbosch wines are readily available at good wine stores across the country.

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