The Wolftrap’s big catch: Super Quaffer of the Year.

2009 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap, Western CapeThis just in: The gold medal and wolfskin go to Boekenhoutskloof, 2012 winery of the year in the eyes of John Platter. He’s the Robert Parker of S’africa, veteran and venerated: When he says drink, the smart folk do.  Details make it obvious why BHK is a winner in Platter’s book. He gave five stars to the 2009 cabernet, the 2009 syrah plus the 2008 late harvest semillon.  Platter isn’t a stuffy bloke, one of his most sought after awards is for superquaffer of the year. Boekenhoutskloof won that for Wolftrap white, a vigonier-chenin blend. I’m partial to the red, a syrah that’s smooth and spicy.

Well deserved for this is one of the best on the Cape, with deep roots in Franschoek. That’s the appellation with the strongest French accent of the old Huguenot growers.  B-21 shoppers would give the winery high marks for the Porcupine Ridge line and that  luscious Chocolate Block red (syrah, grenache, cabernet, cinsault and…viognier!).  Some day we may get beyond the wolves, procupines and chocolate say Boekenhoutskloof out  loud. Easy, it’s just  like it sounds.


The Lion Won’t Sleep Tonight:Our Most Popular S’Africans on Sale

We learned long ago that South Africa’s vineyards were as much fun as a safari. Safer too. I now know that Africa produces more than good value, much as we all like that. Of course it has unique climate and geology, its own grapes too. Yet South Africa has long, smart wine-growing traditions. It makes exceptionally good $10 bottles and great wines well above. This week I’ve cut prices so you can explore them all. Start with the Rhonish Wolftrap red, the Porcupine Syrah or the homegrown Chenin Blanc (steen to the locals) from Man Vintners. Every one over delivers for the price. Then treat yourself to the better grades, like the 2009 Chakalaka, a dark red blend of Syrah and oddball grapes as robust and complex as the spice it’s named for and the 2010 Hamilton-Russell Chardonnay, the taste of Beaune for only $24. At these prices, you can fill your lodge for weeks. You’re gonna want that.

2010 Man Vintners Chenin Blanc

“Bright yellow. Cool aromas of melon, kiwi, lime zest, dusty herbs and licorice. Juicy and densely packed, with a bit of sweetness balanced by brisk acidity. A crisp, clean midweight with a dusty texture and a ripe nectarine flavor on the lively finish. Terrific value.”  88ST

2009 The Wolftrap by Boekenhoutskloof

“Very bright red-ruby. Black cherry, pepper, tree bark and candied violet on the almost liqueur-like nose. Then juicy and vinous in the mouth, with lovely red berry sweetness complicated by pepper and a touch of woodsmoke. Finishes with a fine dusting of tannins and nice length for a wine in its price range. User-friendly and downright gulpable.”  88ST

2010 Porcupine Ridge Syrah

“A solid red from the Franschhoek Valley made by new-wave winemaker Marc Kent. It’s a truly handcrafted Syrah, fermented in small open-top tanks, and then aged in wooden barrels. Aromas of raspberry, black pepper, smoked sausage and cloves. The silky texture and full flavor make it a great wine on its own or enjoy with most red meat dishes.”  90SS, 90RAS

2009 Spice Route Chakalaka

“Dark and winey, with lots of sappy kirsch, blackberry and plum sauce notes supported by dark licorice and sweet spice through the finish. Shows nice range and character. Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Tannat. Drink now.”90WS, 90WA

2010 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay

“The palate has a very attractive hazelnut and lanolin-tinged entry. It has wonderful definition and a taut, citrus finish
that is long in the mouth. Try to resist temptation and cellar this for several years.”  93WA

2009 Chocolate Block by Boekenhoutskloof

“2009 The Chocolate Block has a rustic, earthy bouquet with a touch of saddle-leather and Provencal herbs. The palate is smooth and rounded on the entry and is armed with crisp acidity to cut through that plush dark berried fruit interlaced with rosemary, white fennel and white pepper. Very svelte and harmonious towards the slightly oaky finish and demonstrating good length, The Chocolate Block is a well-crafted Rhone(ish) blend from Mark Kent and his team. Drink now-2015.”  90WA