I must declare an interest here. I have known Warwick Denman since he was a fine young fella in primary school in class with my son. I have great admiration for him as he has pursued his post school life with dedication and purpose. Having done a Viticulture & Oenology degree at the renowned Elsenburg Faculty at Stellenbosch University, Warwick built himself a career as an international model who travelled all over the world pursuing this career very successfully. In between all this, he has produced two outstanding wines from the vineyards of Simonsberg Stellenbosch, one of the finest addresses for a vineyard in the Cape.
WD Merlot 2016
The grapes used to make the WD Merlot 2016 were hand-picked from dryland Vineyards of the Simonsberg – Stellenbosch ward ranging from 15-25 years old, sorted and traditionally vinified. This wine is made to fit between an old and new world style and is a true reflection of its unique terroir. Once in the cellar, the grapes were destalked and crushed. During fermentation, the cap was pumped over and plunged numerous times during its long maceration and fermentation period to enhance colour, fruit, depth and complexity.
The wine was gently pressed and moved to barrel where it spent 10 months in predominantly 1st and 2nd fill French oak barrels where malolactic fermentation took place.
From a Bordeaux shaped bottle, under natural cork. The livery is simple and elegant with the cork end of the bottle dipped into gold wax – which comes off very easily. In the glass, the wine is a deep bloodplum at the heart which pales out to ruby at the edges. The nose is all cherries and berries and plums, with well applied oak. The mid palate shows a generosity spiced fruit and dark chocolate, and in the gently waning aftertaste the components are all elegantly balanced. The WD Merlot 2016 is eminently accessible now, though Warwick suggests that it is “set to improve with bottle age over the next several years when laid down in optimal ageing conditions.”
The WD Merlot 2016 is excellent as a post prandial glass on its own. We found that it improved after opening. With food it is excellent, meat dishes, game birds and a full flavoured and lusty Vegetarian Main Course with reduced tomato flavours and field mushrooms.
The grapes for the WD Chardonnay 2016 were hand-picked and carefully vinified from a selection of rows from Warwick’s top performing 16-year-old, South East facing, dry land Chardonnay blocks. The grapes were hand sorted and whole bunch pressed. Barrel fermentation was done in a selection of 300 Litre French Oak barrels at a low temperature to ensure the translation of fruit flavours on the nose and palate. Malolactic fermentation was 100% completed on 50% of the barrels with a few barrels fermenting on wild yeasts for added complexity. Batonnage was done once a week to ensure a buttery and full-bodied complexity. We found this a stunner of wine.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with natural cork, dipped into gold wax. Elegant simple livery. In the glass, a gem bright pale golden straw. The aromas of windfall oranges and sweet tropical limes are repeated as flavours on the palate. Lovely mineral undertow with spun sugar and oak spices. The palate is generous, mouthfilling. This is a seriously good Chardonnay.
This is a food wine, good with sea food, fat pink prawns, a delicate Kerala Vegetable Curry and smoked fish or chicken. Works well with duck breast too, gilded with hanepoot moskonyt.
The WD Chardonnay 2016 is perfect for drinking now, though it can only reward if cellared for at least another 4 to 5 years.
Read more about Warwick Denman Wines in the blog section of his website.