Rocking Horse, White Blend, 2017, South Africa
The Wine Society - £22.00
Tasting date - 30/12/2018
Appearance - Medium lemon ( just )
Nose intensity - Pronounced
Primary aroma - Apple, peach, apricot, melon, cammomile,
Secondary aroma - Cream, butter
Tertiary aroma - Hay, hazelnut, pine nut
Sweetness - Dry
Acidity - Medium plus
Tannin and nature - None
Alcohol - Medium plus
Body - Medium plus
Intensity - Medium plus
Primary flavours - Lemon, lime peel (slight bitterness), grassy, apple, peach, apricot, melon, cammomile
Secondary flavours - Cream, butter
Tertiary flavours - Hay, hazelnut, pine nut
There is also a waxy texture and a slight ‘bite’ to the wine ( explained later)
Finish - Long
Quality - Outstanding
Blind Tasting Logic
There are elements of this wine that make this an easy tasting sample and elements that are really difficult. The difficult part is identification or variety or origin. I think this would only be fair to ask for either if this was part of a South African trio, with Pinotage and perhaps a Cabernet Sauvignon, you should always expect a Chenin or a Chenin blend in any South African flight.
It would not be fair to place this in a line-up with a couple of Loire Chenin Blancs as there is not enough chenin Blanc in the blend. The blend actually consists of Roussanne, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Clairette and Chardonnay and uses old French oak barrels for maturation with a touch of skin contact for some of the varieties ( hence the slight tannin and pleasant bitterness).
The points to really focus on with this wine are the easy to identify climate and winemaking elements, the secondary notes of cream and butter really show themselves in this wine, the alcohol of 13.5% and medium plus body really provide a viscosity that you would not usually find in the Loire. This wine style is gaining popularity in wine circles and becoming a stand-out unique style for South Africa so try and become somewhat familiar with it.
As mentioned the varietal mix although interesting is too difficult to pull apart in a blind tasting so I doubt that would ever be asked for and so focusing on style and finally quality.
Quality conclusion is difficult as you have to really think about what the wine is trying to achieve within its style. It is slightly aromatic, powerful in flavour, but in my opinion the texture of the wine is what makes it so interesting, it is viscous and silky on the palate yet with enough ‘bite ( acidity and slight waxiness)’ to keep the wine refreshing.
When doing a blind tasting and the wine seems unfamiliar it is easy to place the wine at a lower quality category, when I am faced with a wine like that I always go back to basics and simply focus on the finish or length - all outstanding wines have a long length. Complexity can come with age, balance can also be improved with age but length should always be a great indicator. Other wines that I use this technique on are Gruner Veltliner, Viognier and other Rhone whites. To get to Outstanding for the quality you need to look at BLIC which thankfully are all in the higher end of the SAT but other bolstering arguments would be texture, ability to age (more nuttiness to come), balance of the medium plus alcohol to with enough fruit intensity to make the wine seem warming rather than burning.
Use this wine to revise your theory on blending and particularly this style of wine that is becoming increasingly important for South Africa, also please do not see blending between areas in South Africa as a trick for lower quality producers, single origin wines are not always the better examples and this wine shows that.