Boekenhoutskloof 2020 The Chocolate Block

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Tasting notes
Full bodied, intense, dark fruits, spicy and peppery. Ideal with rich dishes, steak and ale pie comes to mind.

The wine
Why it is called the Chocolate Block the makers are not telling but hint that is has something to do with their belief that the Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is eminently suited to blended reds. The make-up of this wine is tweaked from vintage to vintage to best reflect the season and the ancient vines of great character that are an integral part of the wine’s charm and personality. All the grapes come from the Swartland, with Syrah the predominant variety with over 70% of the blend. The rest of the blend is Grenache and Cinsault (around 10% each), Cabernet Sauvignon and a tiny bit of Viognier. The components are vinified separately and differently. Syrah and Cinsault were matured in a combination of seasoned 2,500L French oak foudres and barriques. Grenache was matured in seasoned 600L demi-muids. Cabernet Sauvignon was the only component exposed to new French oak barrique. The elevage (the French term for the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling) ranged between 13 & 16 months, dependent on component and vineyard parcel.

The wine estate
Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776. Located in the furthest corner of the beautiful Franschhoek valley, the farm’s name means “ravine of the Boekenhout”, an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for furniture making. In 1993 the farm and homestead was bought and restored and a new vineyard planting programme was established that now includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Semillon and Viognier. Boekenhoutskloof is a Syrah specialists. They won the Platter’s (the local wine guide) Winery of the Year 2020 (having won it previously in 2012) In the interests of conserving the unique biodiversity around the farm they are removing invasive alien plants such as pine and gum trees. Restoration of the sensitive riverine area, as well as the re-introduction of various protea species, is on-going. 

Food and wine
Rich and full-bodied wines need food to match. Roasts, vegetables and meat, and stews and barbecued meat. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
Cinsault originated in the south of France. Cultivated as “Hermitage” since 1850 in South Africa, it was discovered in the early 20th century to be the same as the Mediterranean grape. Cinsault used to be one of the most widely planted varieties. However, in the mid-20th century, the rising popularity of Bordeaux varieties changed Cinsault’s status, and vineyards were ripped up to make way for the French grape du jour. But winemakers encountered a big issue with their new plantings: desirable Cabernet Sauvignon was rather expensive to grow and produce. So they turned to the oldie but goldie that they had just recently torn up: Cinsault. Old vine Cinsault is something you should definitely try. Cinsault was also crossed with Pinot Noir to create the unique SA grape, Pinotage.