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The vines that bind a family affair

China Daily | Updated: 2011-02-12 07:39

The vines that bind a family affair

Kleine Zalze wines from South Africa have won 30 gold medals and five trophies in the past two years.

The wines on this family-owned estate exhibit classic structure and complexity, plus deep and vibrant flavors.

The vineyard is 3 km from Stellenbosch, the capital of South Africa's main winegrowing region, near Cape Town. Wine has been produced at Kleine Zalze since 1695.

Sales and marketing manager Ross Sleet says every block on the vineyard was independently vinified to give the winemaking team the building blocks to create wines that tasted of place, or terroir.

"Close attention is paid to cultivating grapes of exceptional quality, and each vineyard is assessed and managed individually during the growth period."

Yields were kept low to produce fruit-driven wines with outstanding character and maturation potential, Sleet says.

Kleine Zalze produces five levels of wine. Top of the range are the family reserve, followed by the vineyard selection.

Next come the cellar selection, the Foot of Africa range and, finally, the Zalze group of wines for immediate drinking.

The 2007 family reserve shiraz is an elegant wine that spent 20 months in 100 percent new French oak. Despite the amount of oak, the tannins are soft and juicy. The flavors are long and complex: plum and spice filled my mouth.

The fruit is so well integrated with the oak that the wine could be easily consumed now, although it would be magnificent in a decade. The grapes came from a single block on the estate.

The best fruit went into this wine, which retails for 409 yuan ($62.14) in China.

The 2007 family reserve cabernet sauvignon retails for the same price in China. It is a superb wine. The color is almost black, with aromas of cassis and other dark berries.

The wine has a silky tannic backbone that speaks of elegance and majesty, meaning this wine will cellar for at least a decade.

In 2009 and 2010 this cabernet won three trophies, two gold and three silver medals.

Another wine to note, although it's not as special as those aforementioned, is the 2009 pinotage in the cellar selection range.

Pinotage was created in South Africa in 1925 by crossing pinot noir and hermitage because the country's climate is too hot for pinot noir.

This pinotage is dark cherry in color with aromas of cassis and raspberries. The tannins are more rustic, suggesting less expensive oak, but it would still improve with some time in the cellar.

This is a wine to be consumed in the next five years. It retails for 162 yuan.

Torres distributes Kleine Zalze wines in eight major Chinese cities and coastal resorts.

The wines are also available at some supermarkets.

(China Daily 02/12/2011 page12)

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