Two Bargains from DeMorgenzon Winery

by artfuldiner on August 23, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

DeMorgenzon Winery -GroundsThe wineries of South Africa are the most beautiful in the world… and there are many who believe that DeMorgenzon is the most beautiful of them all. Indeed, the first glimpse of this impressive Stellenbosch estate never fails to solicit countless oohs and aahs from visitors, its vineyards ranging from 200-400 meters on the slopes of the mighty Ribbokkop Mountain. DeMorgenzon which means “the morning sun,” takes its name from the first Afrikaans settlers, who aptly named this part of the Stellenbosch region because it basks in the first rays of sunshine over the valley.

Vines were planted here in the 18th century. Yet, despite the historic lineage Demorgenzon is very much the new kid on the block. In 2003, the estate was purchased by businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum. A former deputy chairman of an investment group dedicated solely to women, Ms. Appelbaum, in collaboration with her husband, Hylton, has channeled her considerable business experience into quickly transforming DeMorgenzon from an unknown entity into a first-class wine producer. Equipment has been replaced and upgraded, vines have been replanted, and an incredible amount of time and resources have been invested into propelling DeMorgenzon into one of the world’s premier wine estates.

DeMorgenzon Winery - MusicToday, DeMorgenzon is not only celebrated for its majestic beauty, but also, thanks to winemaker Carl van der Merwe’s incredible skill, for crafting some of South Africa’s most exciting and original wines. By the way, this is the winery that pipes Baroque music through the vineyard 24-hours a day, as Hylton Appelbaum claims that it aids the ripening process. Be that as it may, there is no denying the inherent quality and complexity of the estate’s wines. And it is the DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc that has captured the attention of critics and connoisseurs alike. Crafted from old Chenin Blanc vines in the finest terroirs across the mountain, it is arguably the Cape’s most significant wine offering to the world. The 2016 vintage, for example, which was released in the summer of 2017, received a whopping 93-points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and is available from various sources around the $39.00 mark.

Other DeMorgenzon wines I have previously recommended include the 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, which received 94-points from the Wine Advocate and retails around $31.00; and, my personal favorite, the 2014 “Maestro.” The “Maestro” is an intriguing blend of 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc, and 13% Viognier. This was originally purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores for $24.99 and is also still available for about the same price online.

Just recently, however, I stumbled upon two additional vintages from this excellent producer. Both available through Pennsylvania State Stores… both priced at a mere $14.99 per bottle… and both highly recommended.

DeMorgenzon Winery- DMZ Syrah 2016DeMorgenzon DMZ Syrah 2016: This Syrah was manually harvested and destalked into stainless steel fermentation tanks. Natural fermentation followed, with a slight extended maceration on the skins to stabilize the color and give the wine more palate length. Following fermentation, the wine was pressed off the skins and malolactic (second) fermentation was completed in barrel. The wine spent an additional 12 months in small French oak barrels, fourdré barrels (a large wooden vat, significantly larger than typical oak barrels, often with a capacity to hold more than a thousand liters of wine), and cement tanks.

The result is a wine with a deep purple core and rich nose characterized by ripe berry fruit. On the palate, the fruit is blended with a hint of spice and integrated oak. While the alcohol level is a hefty fourteen percent, the wine still remains smooth and refined on the palate. This is a beautifully balanced Syrah that combines Old World fruit and elegance with New World freshness and drinkability. A superb effort at an equally superb price point.

Demorgenzon Winery- DMZ Chard 2017DeMorgenzon DMZ Chardonnay 2017: The fruit for DMZ Chardonnay is selected from premium trellised parcels in South Africa’s Stellenbosch district at elevations of 100 to 200 meters above sea level. The cooling effects of the close proximity to the ocean, as well as the weathered granite and sandstone soils of the Stellenbosch, all contribute to the wine’s elegance, minerality, and fresh citrus character.

Each vineyard parcel was fermented separately, using a combination of natural yeast and careful inoculation. Of the harvested grapes, 25% were left as whole bunch and 75% were lightly crushed and the juice allowed to settle overnight. The wine was aged on its lees in a combination of stainless steel and French oak barrels. Malolactic (second) fermentation was allowed to commence naturally in the barrel-fermented portions. After 8 months, the various parcels are blended and then aged for an additional 3 months before being stabilized, lightly filtered, and bottled.

Notwithstanding the heady 14% alcohol, this wine is extremely light on its feet. “A bright and bouncy style,” as the Wine Spectator describes it, bestowing 90-points. Delicate oak flavors are rich and full on the palate with a touch of refreshing citrus on the finish. An excellent Chard at a terrific price point.

DMZ is DeMorgenzon’s value label, where the objective is to produce classic, elegant, well-balanced wines that overdeliver in terms of quality for price. For my money, the estate has more than delivered on its promise.



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