I’ve just poured a glass of a brilliant Cape wine from a bottle bearing a sticker proclaiming the contents as a “Trophy” wine from the 2011 (note the year) Trophy Wine Show. Don’t always believe what you read!
In this case the wine wasn’t, as the label said, Ormonde Theodore Eksteen 2008, a shiraz-based blend (the category for which it won the TWS trophy). It was La Motte’s Hanneli R 2009 – the R standing for Rupert: Hanneli Rupert, a very fine opera and concert singer, daughter of Anton Rupert and owner of La Motte. (And don’t object to the pic – Hanneli Rupert is a genuine, serious artist; last time I heard her live was in the public premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s Nagasaki oratorio, with the Cape Philharmonic in 2006.)
And there was no doubt about the bottle contents. Sadly, the original Ormonde occupant was not what it perhaps once had been, when Angela Lloyd and I tasted it together earlier this week. As a doubter about the value of big blind tastings, I was not predisposed by the sticker to necessarily expect much of the quality of the wine in late 2013. But I have liked Ormonde’s red wines (notably the Ondine Cab Franc) in the past, and am sure that the 2008 Theodore Eksteen was once very much better than it is now.
The mystery is why they released the wine only now – it was also tasted for Platter a few years back, with 3.5 stars awarded by Christine Rudman, who pointed to the shiraz-grenache blend’s all-new oaking and 15.5% alcohol. Unfortunately, the 2008 is now a bit oxidised, and certainly past its best. Again – why did Ormonde wait till the wine was on its deathbed before releasing it? At R250! Perhaps they took their trophy as signifying more than it did, and overestimated the wine’s potential. Angela and I opened a second bottle to check, but….
So the drained bottle served as a means of splitting the Hanneli R, which we both wanted to observe over a day or two (altogether about as far as you can get from the procedures of competitions!).
Varietally, the Hanneli R 2009 could be a typical Swartland blend: syrah-based, with grenache, carignan, cinsaut and – to mark the difference! – merlot. But these varieties are sourced everywhere from Elim to Malmesbury, and given 36 months in new oak. All this means a wine utterly different from that typical Swartland blend (and I’ve never made a secret of my fondness for such wines).
I have to say, however, that, in its very different style, this is a really brilliant wine that Edmund Terblanche has crafted for La Motte. These have been my notes:
- Very well structured. Lovely flavours. Balanced. Serious tannins, but very fine. (Next day the tannins were less intrusive, but still informing). Good wine. Rich, but elegant, restrained. Good acidity, dry. Sophisticated. Needs time. Stopped from being Rhonish partly by the brilliant inspiration to add merlot, perhaps. Not in the Swartland fresh, natural style – more Bordeaux-oriented in some ways. Should develop well over a good few years.
Altogether, La Motte Hanneli R 2009 is one of the best Cape reds I’ve tasted this year. (A big improvement on the last vintage of it, as far as I can recall.) The given retail price is R845. Yes, indeed. Mostly these very expensive Cape wines seem overpriced to me in international terms, but I could make a case for this one. Tiny quantities available, however – fewer than 4000 bottles, they say. Hats off to La Motte.