Grand Vin de Glenelly

A subtle and impressive blend from Simonsberg’s French-owned farm

In South African Wine
on 09 Oct 14

I was lucky to visit the beautiful Glenelly estate in 2011, and since I don’t often find their wines locally, I was thrilled when Cape Classics sent this exciting blend from the cool and challenging 2008 vintage to which I’m pretty partial.

Glenelly Estate with mountain backdrop Glenelly Grand Vin wine label

Shiraz-based at 40 percent, with another 39 percent cabernet sauvignon, 14 percent petit verdot, and seven percent merlot, this blend bears a Western Cape Wine of Origin sticker and sells for approximately $28.

It is rich and red on the nose, with the spices that almost suggest incense or sandalwood and the sandstone minerality element that I often find in Simonsberg syrah. The fruit is plummy, with cassis that feels bolder than the wine’s 14 percent ABV, especially for its cool growing season. According to its tech sheet, this wine is fermented with indigenous yeast after a three-day cold soak and sees a few weeks of post-fermentation skin contact followed by 18 months in an even blend of new, second-, and third-fill oak.

That’s a lot of on-paper extraction for a wine that feels pretty effortless. The tannins are a whisper; the color is a beautiful ruby-tawny. This is elegance and kid-glove handling on a delicate foundation, and having gotten my start in the wine industry in challenging vintages in cool-climate conditions, I find it impressive. Glenelly’s massive resources and its winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain’s obvious appreciation for fresh and food-friendly wines show through here, and I wasn’t surprised to find Adi Badenhorst on the website as consulting winemaker. This farm is pulling out all the quality stops, and getting fine results.

Julia Burke reviews South African wine and writes about social justice, the South African wine industry, and her own adventures in winemaking.