18 February 2008

Stellenzicht - The Temple Dancer

Decades ago I went hill trekking in the Golden Triangle of northern Thailand, up along the Mehkong River by the border with Laos. I slept in tribal villages of various indigenous peoples; not Thai but Akah, Lisu, Hmong and more who have no states of their own nor recognition of national borders. The triangle is golden because thick jungle hide clearings planted with marijuana and poppies for heroin, protected by warlord ‘generals’ and their barefooted but uniformed and heavily armed soldiers.

Those memories return every time I place a bottle of Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage on my table — which unfortunately is not often enough because it is rather difficult to obtain.

Stellenzicht’s triangle is golden both because of the quality grapes grown in the valley, and because of Guy Webber. I would like to say that he is at his winemaking peak, but that would imply he can go no further and I don’t think he has any limits where winemaking is concerned.

Stellenzicht ‘Golden Triangle’ Pinotage 2006

There is the most beautiful fruity and floral perfume coming from this medium red coloured wine. I had to pause and enjoy it. The first taste gives sweet redcurrants followed by hints of coffee, lavender and maybe some elderflower.

I was surprised to see the label shows 15% abv because this wine doesn’t taste like a big alcohol bruiser. Rather it is as lithe and sinewy as a Thai temple dancer, perfectly balancing rich fruit flavours with acids and tannins. This wine is just so moreishly drinkable – and all too soon - it was drunk.

As posted a while ago, Guy Webber said the ’06 Pinotage is quite different from its predecessor: “It’s quite lean, more in the classic Old World style. I didn’t change my recipe though, besides using a little less new wood, I simply let the wine express itself.”

Expressed wonderfully, Guy!

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