Reserve Tasting a must if you’re serious about wine
Avid wine collector? Then book a spot at our Reserve Tasting. It’s the best way to discover the ageing potential of the Estate’s award-winning wines.
It’s been said that “wine is bottled poetry” – a much-quoted phrase by novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. While the quote itself may be overused, it certainly does ring true for the world’s best vintage wines.
While Waterford Estate is still relatively young, it’s proven over and over again that many of its wines can be kept for years (decades even), revealing beautiful, untold narratives as time goes by. But, to quote another clichéd phrase, the proof is in the pudding. And so, for visitors truly interested in the ageing potential of the Estate’s wines, the Reserve Tasting comes highly recommended.
This tasting should be done at leisure, preferably after a solid breakfast or lunch, as you’ll want to really savour and enjoy the wines. When you sit down in the courtyard for the tasting, you’ll receive two glasses: one for each of the vintage wines to be tasted, and another for a more recent vintage of the same wines. Currently on offer are the Waterford Estate Chardonnay, Kevin Arnold Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and The Jem – all produced from vines grown on the Stellenbosch estate.
As you learn more about Waterford Estate and the 12 varietals that grow on the farm, you’ll get the rare opportunity to compare the old with the new. First up is the 2011 Chardonnay – a wine that immediately reveals itself as the older member of the family, thanks to its rich, golden colour and notes of honey, roasted almond and butterscotch. In comparison, the 2016 is fresh and fruity with hints of peach pip, coconut and nutmeg.
Next, a Coravin is used to extract a taster of the 2005 Kevin Arnold Shiraz. A 2014 Shiraz is served alongside and, once again, it’s remarkable to see how time has left its mark on the older vintage.
This is followed by the 2004 and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – a grape varietal that grows exceptionally well on Waterford Estate, thanks to hot, dry summers, mild winters, and fertile soils. Not only is tasting the 2015 a treat (this year was one of the best for red wines from the area); but being able to compare the Cabernet Sauvignon with its predecessor is a remarkable way of discovering its ageing potential.
The tasting concludes with The Jem, Waterford Estate’s flagship wine and the jewel in its crown. The 2006 vintage offers strong lead pencil and cassis notes, backed by cedar and spice aromas, while the tannin structure is incredibly well integrated. This wine is clearly a keeper that’s best enjoyed after spending about 10-20 years in a cool cellar or wine fridge. Every sip is an adventure for the palate and proof that some of the best things in life require patience.
When asked why wines are aged, winemaker Mark le Roux explains that wine is never sealed off from the outside world: “While it ages, oxygen still interacts with the wine through the cork, adding character. Minuscule amounts of oxygen react with the tannins, phenolics and colour molecules within the wine.”
The wines that form part of the Waterford Estate Reserve Tasting are all stored under optimum maturation conditions, where humidity and temperature levels are tightly controlled. The correct humidity levels prevent the cork from drying out (which may result in wine evaporation) while tight temperature control is important, too. Below-optimal temperatures may stall evolution, while high temperatures could mean that certain reactions occur too fast.
If you’re interested in building up your collection of Waterford Estate wines, doing the Reserve Tasting is a must. Plus, it’s a great way to spend a few hours on the magnificent estate.