Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Mentors 2016 Canvas Red Blend, Western Cape

This bottle shows South African winemaking at its best.

During our recent trip to Florida, we stopped over in Savannah on the way back. We stayed at our favorite dog-friendly hotel there, the Kimpton Brice Hotel. Although the hotel has a couple of dog-friendly tables at the restaurant, we opted for the Secret Garden.

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The Secret Garden is an open courtyard where we could enjoy our takeout meal al fresco. Another benefit is that there is no corkage fee and I had conveniently brought The Mentors 2016 Canvas red blend. As our dog Amber settled beneath the table, I uncorked our wine.

This was one of my first purchases from WTSO, the online wine retailer with daily flash sales. When I saw a South African red blend that retails for $39 available for $17, I pushed the button. I’m glad I did.

The Mentors is one of the brands of South African Wine giant KWV (which is short for a nearly unpronounceable Afrikaner name). KWV was founded as a co-op in 1918 by wine growers. It did a lot of admirable things, but KWV also set quotas which resulted in quantity over quality in the country until they were abolished in the 1990s. KWV later helped establish the Wines of Origin program, which helps assure consumers of the top quality in South African wines.

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We’re superfans of South African wine since our safari there and romp in the winelands a number of years ago. South African wine, in our minds, combines the New World fruit-forward profile with Old World winemaking craftsmanship.

The Mentors range is named in honor of Abraham Perold, who developed Pinotage and is considered the father of modern South African viticulture. Canvas is a red blend of 39% Shiraz, 17% Grenache Noir, 17% Tempranillo, 14% Petite Sirah, 7% Cinsaut, 6% Tannat. That’s a mighty cool blend, with the Tempranillo adding an interesting twist to the mostly Rhone-style wine.

On the palate this rocks with layers of dark cherry, raspberry, and violets. Vanilla highlights a smooth minerally finish. This delivers full-body satisfaction without bombastic tannins. It is great with grilled meat, or even pasta with meat sauce (as I enjoyed in the Secret Garden). The only drawback is that I only purchased only one bottle (which I have since rectified!).

If you haven’t been drinking South African wine, this is a beautiful introduction. It’s still available on the WTSO website. Cheers!

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