Chardonnay, at its best, makes a wine that can prompt me to shout, or at least mutter, “bravo!” but (unlike riesling or even chenin blanc) doesn’t ever make me go weak at the knees and start blubbering brokenly of undying love.
So, I’m happy to murmur a fairly convinced bravo to KWV’s Mentors Chardonnay 2012. From Elgin it is, like so many of the best cape chards. And if the drinking test is the important one, this did embarrassingly well tonight with my vegetarian sushi. I enjoyed it greatly and look forward to another bravo tomorrow night, when I expect the wine to be showing even better and that the bottle will be truly vanquished.
I tasted this wine in a June line-up of KWV wines (see here), and really think that five months in bottle have done it good – five more will undoubtedly do it even better, and probably five years too. I noted then that was rather shy, fairly elegant, “with nice limey fruit, well balanced, but not very expressive. Improved after time in glass, however. Very decent. 16/20.” I was tasting (blind) with some KWV people who said subsequently that “wine from this source needs a few years to start showing its best”. Clearly this is true and that every bit of time counts.
Tonight it was much more expressive than before, beautifully composed and harmonious, that limey fruit gathering a bit more incipient complexity. I’d give it another point out of 20 now, and think that Christine Rudman in Platter 2014 was being a touch mean in giving it only four stars. But it hasn’t done all that brilliantly in all the competitions that KWV is throwing its wines into, either.
However, this is a very serious contender in the local chardonnay stakes, I’d say, striking a nice line between richness and increasingly fashionable leanness. Perhaps a touch too sweet-fruited for real elegance, but the oaking is masterly. Probably it would do better in all those competitions if it was held back a year or so. So, if KWV knows how a bit of time in bottle will bring noticeable improvement, why not release it a bit later? The accountants quashing the winemakers, I suppose. A shortsighted policy, probably, given that KWV are clearly very keen on competition success at this stage of their image-rebuilding programme.
It occurs to me again that KWV is going for down-the-line virtues with its Mentors range, rather than excitement, which is probably fair enough for now. I’d guess (but what do I know about marketing) that at some stage we’ll see another KWV top-end range doing more exciting stuff. Meanwhile, amongst others, there’s this chard, not cheap but not too outrageously priced at round about R180.