Monday, June 22, 2015

La Motte: South Africa Winery Visit

Continuing the saga of our wine and safari excursion to South Africa…
Despite doing research in advance, visiting a winery can be a Forrest Gump experience, “you never know what you’re going to get.” That was the case with La Motte.
It certainly looked good online and was recommended in books. As our wine explorations in Franschhoek continued, we found that La Motte exceeded expectations in every way.
Viticulture at La Motte dates back to 1752 when 4,000 vines were planted by Huguenot descendant Gabriël du Toit. In 1970 the estate was purchased by Dr. Anton Rupert and developed into a world-class winery and sought-after tourist destination.
The grounds are stunning and feature sculptures of eight female figures including The Wine Bearer, a sculpture by Toby Megaw, which welcomes guests on the drive to the wine farm. A superlative museum is also on the grounds with a special focus on the landscapes of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, acknowledged as one of South Africa’s greatest old masters.
A bridge over a stream guides you into the stylish and friendly tasting room. There is a nice assortment of seating options, a fireplace and large glass panels with an unimpeded view into the barrel room. In keeping with the upscale ambiance, the servers are dubbed “wine ambassadors.”
We settled down at a long wooden table with a view of the barrel room and began our tasting. We led off with a trio of whites.
The 2014 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc has aroma of cut grass with green apple and citrus flavors. At 60R (or about $5 US) this is an unthinkable value. The 2014 Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc is vinified sur lie for 16 hours. This gives the wine a bigger body and more character. An excellent Sauvignon Blanc for not much more in price.
Our next taste was the 2013 Chardonnay from their Classic Collection. The Green Dragon mentioned she isn’t a huge Chard fan to which our wine ambassador responded that even if you are ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) this wine would show you CBA (Chardonnay is Back Again). Indeed it is light with tropical and citrus notes. The South African style, in our experience, favors lighter Chardonnay avoiding overly oaked versions.
A quartet of reds awaited us. In my excitement I dumped the remainder of my white wine into the water pitcher instead of the dump bucket!
A favorite red was the 2013 La Motte Millennium. This is a blend of 57% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, with the remainder being Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is light bodied with raspberry and toffee, enhanced by light tannins. The Cab Franc plays a leading role in the blend, which can age up to 10 years.
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon offers classic cabernet flavors. Black currant and violet rule this elegant wine. This is a QPR (Quality Price Ratio) winner at about $10 US.

We finished with a pair of Syrah. The 2011 La Motte Syrah is a cool terroir wine that was juicy and medium bodied. The winner of the Syrah faceoff, though, was the 2013 La Motte Pierneef Syrah. Although a younger wine, this is more of what a Syrah should be. It has 10% Viognier (a white variety) to add some raciness to the spice of the Syrah. It offers style and finesse.
Those two words could sum up La Motte. Their tagline is “A Culture of Excellence” and it is evident in their wines, staff and facilities. It is France and Napa blended and served with winning South African hospitality. Don’t miss it.
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