Last night I opened – and drank half of, with much pleasure – a bottle of Intellego 2011. No other name for the wine appears on the label, but I see we called it Rooi in Platter 2013 – presumably at the behest of Jurgen Gouws, winemaker and owner of the brand.
In Platter, a bit more than two years ago, I noted that the wine “adds mourvèdre to shiraz. Lovely clear, fresh fruit plus smoky savoury quality. Elegant but intense; strong tannins need few years to soften, harmonise.” Well, they’ve had a few years and, while being no pushover, they now offer a succulent firmness. Altogether a really nice wine, with time to go.
Jurgen, who also works at Lammershoek, where he makes his Intellego wines from Swartland grapes, has abandoned this blend, it seems. He now makes two straight syrahs – one called just by the variety name, the other called Kolbroek.
I tasted the maiden 2012 Kolbroek not long ago, and was much impressed. Jurgen has become a little more radical and “natural”, unsurprisingly, in his years alongside Lammershoek’s Craig Hawkins. This is a lighter, fresher wine than the Rooi 2011 – earlier-picked (12.5% alcohol compared to 13.5 declared on the older bottle), and whole-bunch-pressed. Also pure fruited, but rather more savoury than fruity this time, dark and brooding; elegant, and a touch austere in a positive way. It reminded me of some Cornas wines (northern Rhone). A most interesting wine, selling at about R175.
I don’t have a note on Intellego Syrah, but I did taste the two, very contrasting chenins. The Chenin Blanc 2012 (R125) is quite a characteristic Swartland wine. Quite oxidatively handled – with, needless to say, no additions of any kind; matured in older oak. Subtly rich wine from ripe grapes, expressing Swartland warmth and generosity; rather gorgeous.
Elementis Skin Contact 2013 (R200) comes off a single site of 30-year-old bushvines. It was macerated on the skins for 3 weeks, which gives the wine a very different and perhaps more complex and intense range of aromas and flavours than the more conventionally made version – though, given the newness of this technique, the grape and terroir origins are not as familiar. Sharper. Very clean, dry, savoury. Almost chalky texture.
I’ve always thought that Intellego was a good name for Jurgen’s wines – he glosses the word as “Understand”, but the more obvious immediate connotation works too, as there is something intellectual about the wines, though I would want to downplay their sensual appeal. As so often, a bit of mind doesn’t diminish sex appeal.