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Cheers to efforts by SA Italians

Cape Town - Neither of the two most hospitable Italians in South Africa needs any introduction to winelovers. From Piedmont in the north-west, Giulio Bertrand is proving an ideal custodian of historic Morgenster in the Helderberg – and has made its name synonymous with fine wines and quality olives and oil. From Friuli in the north-east, larger-than-life Giorgio Dalla Cia is as renowned for his grappas as he is for the elegant Bordeaux-style red blends emanating from his Stellenbosch cellar.

Both were at the press launch of the Morgenster and Lourens River Valley 2010 vintages recently. Winemaker Henry Kotzé introduced the pair, his first blends for the estate.

Giorgio Dalla Bia and son George have launched their sixth Bordeaux-style blend.

The flagship Morgenster is merlot-led, with cab, cab franc and a dash of petit verdot. It’s velvety and opulent with loads of fruit, beautifully fresh, well integrated and with plenty of backbone. Eminently drinkable now, this is a wine that is made to last “beyond 20 years” says Kotzé, and sells for R320. Consultant Pierre Lurton lauded the wine as one of great definition, comparable to a high resolution computer picture with “lots of pixels”.

Its sibling, the Lourens River Valley (R149), is also a Bordeaux blend, and is traditionally medium-bodied and more accessible. The new vintage will benefit from further cellaring, as its potential is impressive and could be a good investment at R149. Well rated by Platter, this comprises 50 percent cab franc, with merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot.

Also worth sampling is the second vintage of Morgenster White (R139), a blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc, using grapes from a neighbouring Schapenberg farm. New single varietal releases, a smooth merlot and a classic cab are both affordably priced at R75 from the cellar.

From his cellar at Bosman’s Crossing, Dalla Cia has released Giorgio 2007, the sixth Bordeaux-style blend named after its creator, rated five stars in the latest Platter guide. Cabernet sauvignon dominates, with cab franc and petit verdot adding 20 percent and 10 percent respectively.

This is a big wine, fairly austere; one with many layers to contemplate as wafts of vanilla and coffee, tobacco and savoury herbs titillate the palate. It costs R210 from the cellar and is set to enhance gourmet roasts over many a winter. - Weekend Argus

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