The vineyards of Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek. To those of us not born fluent in Afrikaans, it’s certainly an intimidating combination of vowels. They seem to have far too many. Maybe they could lend the Welsh some; I visited north Wales on school trips many years ago, and I recall that most of the names of the towns seemed to be made up of a harsh combination of consonants and phlegm.
Boekenhoutskloof is one of the leading estates nestled among the glorious scenery of the South African wine regions near Cape Town. It makes premium wines – the ‘Seven Chairs’ Boekenhoutskloof range and the £60 Porseleinberg Syrah; it also makes cheap supermarket-happy wines in the guise of the Wolftrap and Porcupine Ridge ranges, the latter of which can be bought in Waitrose for £8.
In the middle is the ‘cult’ wine, The Chocolate Block. This can be found in a variety of places – Waitrose, Jeroboam’s and The Wine Society are the main sources in the UK, and tends to sell out very quickly. Much like Chateau Musar, the appeal of this wine is that it’s very different to the traditional approach to winemaking. Whereas many New World winemakers make ‘a Rhone blend’ or ‘a Bordeaux blend’, because that was how the Old World had always done it and presumably was best, The Chocolate Block is a veritable smorgasbord of grape varieties: as the bottle proudly states, it is a blend of 72% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Grenache Noir, 6% Cinsault and 2% Viognier. So largely a Rhone mix, but with a good dollop of Cabernet thrown in for good measure.
And a good measure it is. This is a dense, brooding wine that has a purity of dark fruit at its heart and plenty of tannin and acid wrapped around it. There’s a blackberry and tarry nose and a spicy, zingy plum and blackberry palate. And, yes – there is a note of dark chocolate to it. Frankly, I’d be disappointed if it didn’t.
The finish is pretty long, and despite being fairly hefty it’s not at all overbearing. It entices you in for another sip. I shared this with one other person, and the bottle really didn’t last long.
As I say, this tends to sell out hugely quickly when it appears in the UK. As such, it will now be almost impossible to find any 2010 for sale. If you see any, do let me know. Even at £20 a bottle, which is at the upper limit of this site’s focus, it’s well worth seeking out.
Score – 17/20