Super Single Vineyards Super Special on 5 Ounces
Pella is a project led by Daniël de Waal, who was the 2002 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year. With a focus on old vines that are “in balance”, and planted on the right soils, he works with small parcels of grapes that will produce excellent wines. The scale of the operation means that his team can pay extra attention in the vineyards and cellar.
Here’s an example of the scale of their attention to detail. Grapes on the sunny side of a row of vines will ripen earlier, and have a different flavour profile, to bunches on the other side. In this cellar, fruit from the two sides is handled separately, and only blended prior to bottling.
Pella is – most likely – not a label you’ve seen anywhere else (confession time: I had no knowledge of the wines until 5 Ounces brought them to me), but they’ll quickly become favourites, as they have for me.
Chenin Blanc used to comprise over 30% of South Africa’s vineyard plantings. In just a few years that dropped to under 20% as vines were pulled out to make way for Shiraz, Cabernet and others. Fortunately, many old vines (like the ones that are the source of the grapes for this wine) were spared. Today, old Chenin Blanc vines are an important part of our vinous heritage and an indispensable source of fabulous wines.
With this wine there’s no beating about the … um … barrel. It’s called Vanilla because it was fermented in American oak barrels, but don’t jump to any conclusions about the wood dominating the wine. Yes, oak plays a big part in this wine’s flavour profile, but not to the exclusion of all else. To begin (i.e. the first glass, just after uncorking the bottle), there is a lean – almost tight – edge to the palate. After the bottle has been open for a few hours the wine begins to show more generosity of flavour. It then becomes rounder and more full-bodied.
This is a big, complex wine that rewards patience. Further maturation (perhaps until 2014) could be interesting, or you could simply decant the wine if you’re in a hurry. This is also the sort of wine that a savvy sommelier may pour for you in a nice restaurant. Any white meat or fish, with a creamy sauce (perhaps even with fresh tarragon) would be ideal complements.
You may be tempted to say that making a wine like this is not rocket science. All you do is take ripe fruit, throw some new oak barrels at it, et voila! The truth is that this wine is far too polished, well, just too damn enjoyable, to have been thrown together according to a half-baked formula.
Yes, it’s appealing in a way that could be called ‘obvious’ or perhaps even clichéd, but it’s been executed superbly well. This is as delicious a ‘New World’ Shiraz as you’ll find anywhere (don’t let the Syrah on the label con you into thinking you’re getting a Cote Rotie lookalike).
read more on 5Ounces.co.za