It says a lot about your dedication to your job when you turn up at work on a gloriously sunny winter’s day, first thing on a SUNDAY MORNING to meet an old wine hack like myself. As we drove round the back of Paarl towards Druk my Niet farm, home of Mapoggo wines, I felt increasingly guilty about ruining somebody’s perfectly good day of rest, but Abraham de Klerk was charm itself – even when he had to run down the hill to let us in as the electricity was off – and anyway, he clearly believes that his wines are worth any amount of effort. To be honest, I’m not sure that he isn’t right!
We had come across Mapoggo wines one chilly evening at the Waterfront Wine Affair when I was extremely impressed by their white blend. It came accompanied with a bizarre story of an Afrikaans horse hero leading lost soldiers home through the mist – or something like that – but the upshot was that the wine was good and I wanted to taste some more. So as we were heading out in the Paarl direction for lunch on Sunday, I arranged to go and taste some wine first.
Abraham has worked at various other wineries over the past 15 years, but believes he has found his niche now at DMN Wines where the German owners seem very content to let him do his own thing. He is viticulturist, winemaker, horse trainer, tasting room manager, marketer and surfer all rolled into one and his spangly-new winery is equipped with lots of new toys in small dinky sizes. It is very much a one-man show here, but everything gives the impression of being on the verge of something big – and the main reason you get this feeling comes from the wines.
We tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc and the Malbec from the barrels – these are all destined to be bottled as single varietals and the star of the show is definitely going to be the Cab Franc – rich and elegant with dense black fruit, licorice and hints of thyme. This is grown on the only patch of coffeestone soil on the farm (the rest being decomposed granite) and really shows just how well this variety can do here in SA.
Abraham then made up a version of what will be his Bordeaux blend, the Impetus – Merlot, Cab Sauvignon and Cab Franc – which also has a smooth elegance about it with excellent fruit concentration and length. But he saved his best till last - his flagship blend which will be a threeway of Tannat, Tinta Amarilla and Tempranillo and is going to be gorgeous. To be called T3, this was spicy and supple with lots of punchy, earthy character to it. It’s only going to be released next year and will carry a hefty price tag, but I have a feeling it just might be worth getting a bottle. Or two even.
There’s some different stuff going on at this winery and it is going to be one to watch in the very near future. Oaked Sauvignon Blanc, 40-year old Chenin vines, warm Shiraz grapes fermented on ice-cold Viognier grapes…. And, of course, these oddball varietals which up until now have gone into James McKenzie’s fabulous Scaramanga at Nabygelegen, but will be staying home in the future. For now, I’ll keep drinking the delicious Mapoggo white – Sauvignon, Chenin and Viognier - but will await the rest with impatience and much interest indeed!
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