2003 Lord Neethling Laurentius
Red Blend •Estate Vineyard
South Africa: Stellenbosch
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Lord Of The Grapes
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure a value oriented exceptional red blend from South Africa.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Neethlingshof Estate
Wine Subject: 2003 Lord Neethling Laurentius Red Blend
Winemaker: De Wet Viljoen
Neethlingshof Estate, located in South Africa’s Stellenbosch WO, is well known for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Chardonnay but it is its classic red Bordeaux-blend that is the local preference. Their late harvest Riesling is also a favorite. Stellenbosch WO, arguable the country’s best wine regions, is located just east of Cape Town. Its unique soil comprised of granite, alluvial and Table Mountain sandstone coupled with its warm dry growing season produces an environment ideal for both white and red grape varieties.
While, many consider these wines more contemporary, wine making in South Africa dates back to the early 1700s when the French arrived. Since then, both production and quality have steadily increased resulting in some exceptional wines.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep dark purple with an almost black inky core. Dark purple edges with slow fat legs that gives way to faster thin legs as the wine opens up.
Smell – Bold in intensity, but also smooth and well integrated with aromas of black-currants and blue berries; toasted cedar; earthy notes with hints of cigar tobacco and subtle smokiness, black olive and mocha that reveal themselves as this wine evolves in the glass.
Feel – Dry with a spicy attack, this full-bodied red-blend has firm tannins and good acidity that softens dramatically as this wine opens up.
Taste -Complex and well integrated flavors of tangy black-fruit, black currants, blue berry layered over spicy black pepper and touches of mocha, earth, smokey tobacco and spiced prunes.
Finish – Long and lingering that starts with its fruit component and finishes with excellent spice and mineral components.
Conclusion – The 2003 Lord Neethling Laurentius Red Blend will instantly appeal to those who love Bordeaux-styled red blends. Classic and complex flavors from each of its component varietals that are well integrated. This is a big and bold wine so you definitely want to decant it (there is a slight amount sediment as well) to fully experience this delicious red-blend.
Today we head down to South Africa’s Coastal Region WO (Origin of the Wine), and more specifically, the Stellenbosch WO. This region encompasses the areas just northwest and east of Cape Town and represents the most of the wines imported into the United States.
South Africa, given its trade connections to Europe, shows a tremendous balance between new-world styles as well as old-world tradition. Since the late 1990s, South Africa has become tremendously popular for producing exceptional wines that are also value oriented.
Today’s selection is from the Neethlingshof Estate is not only a delicious Bordeaux-styled blend, but also a tremendous value. Neethlingshof, owned by Lusan Holdings, has 273 hectares of which 165 are under vine. Known in particular for the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as well as Chardonnay. Neethlingshof’s winemaker, De Wet Viljoen, has an impressive history, but gained substantial knowledge working at the Russian River Valley’s La Crema (Kendall-Jackson’s California Cellars).
In tasting today’s 2003 Lord Neethling Laurentius, named for its 19th century owner, Marthinus Laurentius Neethling you’ll find it classic in ever sense but also with a plush and lusty side to it. Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Neethlingshof Estate in Stellenbosch can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
The Neethlingshof estate in Stellenbosch is named after its illustrious 19th century owner, Marthinus Laurentius Neethling, who served as mayor of Stellenbosch and was a senator in the old Cape Parliament. His flamboyant bearing earned him the nickname “Lord Neethling”.
About This Wine:
Colour: Dark red.
Bouquet: Dark berry fruit flavours with plum and cherry followed by elegant aromas of fine oak, cedar and vanilla.
Taste: Full-bodied and smooth packed with cassis, mulberry and hints of mint supported by a good tannic structure.
Ageing process and potential: The wine is ready to enjoy now or can be matured for a further 4-6 years.
Food pairing: The winemaker recommends serving this full-bodied wine with red meat dishes.
Maturation Potential: The wine is ready to enjoy now or can be matured for a further 10 years.
The Laurentius is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (15%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).
About The Vineyards:
The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted in 1987 on north-west facing slopes, situated at 120m above sea level. The Merlot was planted in 1998 on north-westerly slopes situated at 210m above sea level. The Cabernet Franc vineyard grown in Tukulu soil was planted in 1987 on south-west facing slopes, situated at 125m above sea level.
These vineyards with the exception of the Merlot, are grafted onto R99, 110 and 101-4 rootstocks and trellised, using a five-wire vertical fence. The Merlot vines are grafted onto nematode-resistant Richter 99 and 110 rootstocks and trellised on a five-wire system.
The yield from all the vineyards was restricted to an average of 7.5 tons per hectare to enhance the quality of the fruit.
The grapes were harvested by hand at 24° to 25° Balling. After destalking and crushing, the mash was fermented separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks after adding a selected, pure yeast culture. Fermentation took place at 28°C and lasted seven days.
After malolactic fermentation the wine was matured for a period of 12 months in 90% French and 10% American 300 litre oak barrels, 70% of which was new, 20% second and 10% third fill barrels. The wine was then fined and bottled.
About The Winery:
Neethlingshof lies in the very heart of the Cape’s winelands in the Stellenboschkloof, flanked by the Bottelary Hills and Papegaaiberg Mountain just outside the town of Stellenbosch.
There are many natural advantages contributing to the production of the fine, characterful wines at Neethlingshof: a variety of high potential soils derived from decomposed granite, gentle slopes and valleys offering a choice of aspects, the cooling effect of the nearby Atlantic Ocean on the vineyards during the ripening season, and an altitude which varies between 85 and 250metres. Of the Estate’s 273 hectares, 165 are under vines.
The variety of cultivars grown on Neethlingshof gives the winemaker, De Wet Viljoen, an enviable opportunity to craft fine varietal wines and exciting blends which are winners of numerous awards.
The Neethlingshof Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest has been awarded the trophy as the South African National Champion Noble Late Harvest for eight consecutive years – a record in the wine industry! More recently this same wine has won a Veritas Gold Medal while the Lord Neethling Pinotage has been listed in the ABSA Top Ten list of Pinotages three times in the last five years.
Neethlingshof shines as brilliantly on the international front, showing that the wines from this estate appeal to palates around the world, just as much as to those at home. Judged Best South African Wine Producer of the year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London in 2002, Neethlingshof is fast becoming a benchmark for excellence.
The estate itself is well worth a visit. Driving up the imposing stone pine avenue, a beautiful vista unfolds complete with pristine Cape Dutch buildings, rolling green vineyards and a cosy cellar where the full range of wines may be tasted and purchased.
About The Winemaker:
De Wet Viljoen might be young but he’s got loads of enthusiasm and impressive credentials that more than qualify him for the enviable job of Neethlingshof Estate’s winemaker. Having grown up on a wine farm near Worcestor he must have learned a lot about wine growing and making, simply by osmosis. But, being the youngest of five children, he was not about to inherit the family farm so he went to Stellenbosch University to get educated instead, notching up a B.Sc. in Microbiology before finally reconciling his roots and studying Oenology and Viticulture.
So after seven years, two degrees and a Maties first team rugby cap, De Wet, unsurprisingly, developed a love for Stellenbosch and its environs, which is why he is so glad to be back, especially as winemaker for Neethlingshof. He has spent the last two and a half years as winemaker/viticulturist at Wamakersvallei Winery in Wellington. In his time there several of the wines notched up an impressive list of medals both locally and abroad, including 3 double gold Veritas medals during his last vintage there. Their Cabernet Sauvignon won the trophy for the best Cabernet Sauvignon at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London last year, while the Pinotage made it into last year’s ABSA Top Ten. Interesting that the Lord Neethling Pinotage won the same trophy, though for Pinotage, at the IWSC and was also listed in the ABSA Top Ten, for the last three years in a row. So I guess it’s safe to say that Mr Viljoen feels comfortable handling that sort of quality.
In his typically understated way, Viljoen describes all this as merely ‘growing up with his wine’, a practice he learned firsthand while working two harvest at Kendall-Jackson’s California cellar, La Crema. Here in the Russian River Valley along the Sonoma Coast, finesse and fruit intensity are achieved through the winery calls ‘artisan’ winemaking. Hand-picking the grapes in small binds to prevent undue bruising, hand sorting the fruit and cold soaking the reds to enhance fruit flavours and intensify colour. “I was exposed to a very intense level of winemaking at Le Crema,” he says, “where an annual harvest of 6 000 tons is processed. It taught me that you don’t have to compromise when you work on a large scale.” So therefore quantity is also not a problem for this gentleman.
But he’s not just pleased to be back at his Alma Mater; De Wet is really looking forward to making wines from the enviable terroir of the Stellenboschkloof, of which Neethlingshof takes up a sizable chunk. He’s a Francophile at heart, having spent several holidays there, and the terroir on the estate lends itself towards the making of classic French-style wines, as apposed to the New World style wines made in warmer regions.
“You start with a very clear idea of what you want but you can’t follow a recipe to get there,” he explains. “It’s more a case of developing an understanding of the vines – knowing them, not theoretically or generically but tangibly. It’s a relationship you conduct on a localised scale, where you chart the soil changes within each vineyard, and through the vineyard management techniques you use, come to know what you can expect from each section of every vineyard. If you get the basics right, it’s far easier for the wine you make to express its origin and personality. The rest follows naturally.”
Residual sugar: 2,7g/l
Total acidity: 5.5 g/l
Extract: 33,6 g/l