The Mentors Noble Late Harvest gets off to a flying start
Grapes from Walker Bay, cellar in Paarl,
one of the very few SA dessert wines
from Sauvignon, just released
and already a gold medallist
THE FIRST of KWV’s dessert wines to be made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes – or so we think, as the exact origin of their Noble Late Harvests from the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s is unclear… And the first Noble Late from the KWV to be sold in South Africa – as the previous unfortified sweet wines from the Paarl producer were all export-only… The Mentors Noble Late Harvest 2012 – just released at R200 a bottle (375ml) ex-cellar – is one of the very few botrytised desserts from South Africa that can be directly compared with the classic sweet wines of Sauternes, France, wines including the world-famous bottlings from Châteaux d’Yquem and Rieussec.
Whereas Sauternes is made from Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc, sometimes from both and sometimes with Muscat, most of South Africa’s top dessert wines are made from Chenin Blanc, with many made from Muscat de Frontignan or Muscat d’Alexandrie, a few from Riesling and only a handful from Sauvignon or Semillon, i.e. Boekenhoutskloof (Semillon), Mulderbosch (Sauvignon), Quoin Rock (Sauvignon), Simonsig Vin de Liza (Sauvignon and Semillon), Tokara (Sauvignon) and now The Mentors (Sauvignon) from KWV.
The grapes for The Mentors 2012 Noble Late Harvest come from the Walker Bay district north of Hermanus, and at the cellar fermentation was in both stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. The winemakers were aiming for fresh and fruity with intense, concentrated flavour characteristics, and quality wise their nectar is top-notch: nothing but the best under The Mentors label and already with one gold medal to its name, won at the Michelangelo Awards almost a year in advance of its release. Apricot, pear and mango on the nose and palate… lingering but not cloying, and 10% alcohol by volume.
See below for the grapes used to produce the country’s more established sweets, wines with the best track records over the past 10 years – a collection of greats that will surely include The Mentors a few vintages from now.
2013 SA DESSERT WINE CLASSIFICATION – UNFORTIFIED
- Asara Carillon Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Boekenhoutskloof Noble Late Harvest – from Semillon
- Bon Courage Special Late Harvest – from Gewürztraminer
- Bon Courage Noble Late Harvest – from Riesling
- Buitenverwachting 1769 Natural Sweet – from Muscat de Frontignan
- De Trafford Straw Wine – from Chenin Blanc
- Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest – from Riesling
- Fairview La Beryl Blanc – Straw Wine from Chenin Blanc
- Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest – made at The Bergkelder from various varieties, usually involving Chenin or Riesling
- Hazendal The Last Straw – from Chenin Blanc
- Heaven on Earth Organic Sweet – Natural Sweet made at the Stellar Winery from Muscat d’Alexandrie
- Joostenberg Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Klein Constantia Vin de Constance – Natural Sweet from Muscat de Frontignan
- Mullineux Straw Wine – from Chenin Blanc
- Nederburg Edelkeur Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Nederburg Eminence Noble Late Harvest – from Muscat de Frontignan
- Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc and Muscat de Frontignan
- Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Special Late Harvest – from Chenin Blanc
- Neethlingshof Maria Noble Late Harvest – from Riesling
- Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest – from Riesling
- Rudera Noble Late Harvest – mainly from Chenin Blanc
- Rustenberg Straw Wine – from various varieties
- Simonsig Vin de Liza Noble Late Harvest – from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
- Slanghoek Private Selection Crème de Chenin Natural Sweet
- Villiera Inspiration – from Riesling and Chenin Blanc
For the full 2013 SA Wine Classification, click here.