Circumstance, Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rosé 2014 Stellenbosch


From 88 rand, £8.99, €11.99, 17.90 Swiss francs

Find this wine

There is no escape from South Africa on this website this week, I’m afraid. I am determined to convince all-comers of the virtues, and particularly the value, of Cape wine today. Many of the hundreds of wines I described enthusiastically in South African excitement – reds , South African excitement – the rest and South Africa’s wild north west are definitively South African, based on blends of unusual grape varieties from old bushvines. This wine, on the other hand, is to all intents and purposes a great-value alternative to a dry, herby Bandol rosé.

It’s made from the Bandol grape Mourvèdre and has just the same very pale orangey-pink colour, the full body and the dry, food-friendly finish. This is substantial, grown-up rosé that has nothing whatever to do with anything girly, even though the highly competent winemaker is female. (According to Nadia Barnard, only about 10% of winemakers in South Africa are women.) She previously worked next door at Vergelegen and also at Flagstone but now she is chief winemaker at Englishman Paul Boutinot’s spectacular Waterkloof Estate. Nadia Barnard says she was inspired to make this wine, which has gained consistently enthusiastic notes in our database, by her time working in Boutinot’s winery in Cairanne in the southern Rhône, but I have to say that it reminds me more of a Domaine Tempier rosé than anything I have tasted in the southern Rhône.

It’s not heavy but its low acid makes it taste quite soft (residual sugar is about 4 g/l) – although there is quite enough acidity (5.1 g/l) to keep it lively. To combat Mourvèdre’s tendency to reduction, it was made in old wooden fermenters and left on the lees for a few months. It’s smoky, broad, great fun and although it’s only 12.5% alcohol, it doesn’t taste remotely puny. The 2013/14 growing season was relatively cool so that they were able to pick the grapes about 10 days later than usual, with all the necessary flavour but no excess grape sugar.

Whole bunches were pressed and only the free-run juice fermented using only ambient yeasts. Waterkloof with its award-winning restaurant overlooking Somerset West and the ocean (immediately below is my new iPhone's view from the restaurant looking east rather than south) is a biodynamic estate (certified from 2015) with Percheron horses very much in evidence.  But see the professional picture of the building at the very bottom.

The Percherons give their name to a 2011 wine of the week from Boutinot South Africa – but Paul Boutinot has now sold the operation that makes wine under the Boutinot name in space leased from Zorgvliet to the management. He now concentrates on Waterkloof, whose UK importer is also called Boutinot and operates from northern England, where Paul Boutinot grew up, in his parents’ restaurant. Got that? (You can hear Paul talking about why he chose to make wine in South Africa in this  video, shot before the winery was completed.)

The wine is available in South Africa, widely available from independent retailers in the UK, in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where, uncharacteristically, it looks rather expensive according to The 2013 vintage is available in the US, at $16.99, from the Cape-friendly K&L of San Francisco. The fact that Richard tasted the 2014 last August and loved it just as much as I did in January 2015 encourages me to think that the 2013 may well still be fresh enough to enjoy.

Find this wine