A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines

by artfuldiner on April 19, 2020

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines - ExteriorHaving just returned from a wine tasting jaunt to South Africa, I was totally surprised to open the April 30, 2020, edition of the Wine Spectator and discover a South African wine prominently listed as one of their “Highly Recommended” selections in the month’s Buying Guide.

The description of the A.A. Badenhorst 2016 Kalmoesfontein White Blend was positively glowing – plus it had also garnered a whopping 94 points (100-point scale) from both the Spectator and Wine & Spirits – so glowing, in fact, that I did something I almost never do… I ordered half a case sight unseen… and untasted. Not a good idea.

A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines - 2016 White BlendFortunately, however, all was well. The wine more than lived up to its significant hype. So much so that I immediately ordered another six bottles! A blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Sémillon, Viognier, and Colombard, the 2016 is an opulent vintage filled with exotic flavors and a marvelous acidic backbone that keeps its complex elements in perfect harmony. This wine is similar in structure to the DeMorgenzon Maestro, another highly-regarded South African white wine blend that I’ve mentioned in several previous newsletters. The Badenhorst, however, exhibits a bit more body and depth; and it also carries a higher price tag. (Listed in Wine Spectator at $43.00, but it’s available online around the $30.00 mark.)

A.A. Badenhorst Family WinesA.A. Badenhorst Family Wines is a small wine producer in the Swartland region, a large wine-producing area about 40 miles north of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa (My traveling companion and I spent most of our time in the Stellenbosch region, which is located approximately 31 miles east of Cape Town).  Former Rustenberg winemaker Adi Badenhorst (pictured) and his cousin, Hein, bought the Kalmoesfontein farm in Swartland in 2008. The farm has 69 acres of mostly old bush vines, planted in the 1950s and 60s on granite soils. Chenin Blanc, Cinsault, and Grenache make up the majority of the vineyard; other grape varieties are brought in from other vineyards in the area.

The Badenhorst winery uses traditional winemaking methods. All fruit is whole bunch-pressed and fermented in old oak casks, concrete vats or open wooden vats, depending upon color and variety. The red wines then undergo long post-ferment macerations, before aging in 4,000-liter casks.

A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines - 2016 Red BlendThe red wine from this producer that I would highly recommend is the A.A. Badenhorst 2016 Kalmoesfontein Red Blend. This wine is also very highly rated, receiving 92 points from the Wine Spectator and 91 points from Antonio Galloni’s Vinous. It is a blend (often referred to as a “Southern Rhone Blend”) of 71% Shiraz, 13% Grenache, 11% Cinsault, and 5% Tinta Barocca (a Portuguese red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Douro region with some plantings in South Africa).

This is an enticing wine, dark & brooding in the glass with intense floral and black fruit aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with prominent hints of bitter cherry and pomegranate.

There’s plenty of backbone here, as well as dusty tannin… but there’s also a nice shot of acidity to keep things mouthwateringly fresh. I agree with the critics that this wine would benefit from a couple of years in the cellar to allow all the elements to completely come together. That being said, however, it is quite approachable now; and if you enjoy dense wines with plenty of depth, this one should certainly appeal. According to Wine Spectator, 200 of the 291 cases made were imported.

As of this writing, the Pennsylvania State Stores are still closed. In this case, however, that is not a concern, as these wines are not available from that source. The two major sources online are Bedford Wine Merchants, https://www.bedfordwines.com/, Bedford, New York: White Blend $32.99; Red Blend $31.99 (plus shipping)… and Saratoga Wine Exchange, https://www.saratogawine.com/, Ballston Lake, New York: White Blend $31.94; Red Blend $31.94 (plus shipping). Since prices and shipping charges are nearly identical, the choice is pretty much up to you. I personally prefer Bedford, as these people are extremely prompt and really know their stuff.


Be Safe


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