Wine tasting: Bellingham Bernard series, South Africa
Franschhoek ("French corner" in Dutch) is in the Western Cape region of South Africa, settled by French Huguenot refugees escaping religious persecution in the 17th century.
Nowadays the town is known as the country's gourmet capital and boasts the region's top restaurants.
Usually, where there is a strong food culture, wine follows closely behind. Franschhoek is no exception and is home to many highly regarded wineries.
One of these is the Bellingham estate, founded by Bernard Podlashuk and his wife Fredagh in 1943. Bellingham has since been acquired by wine giant DGB, and with the addition of considerable resources, Podlashuk has been allowed to put his creative skills to good use. The result of this is the Bernard Series.
As wine writer Michael Fridjhon says: "The Bernard Series represents some very smart winemaking, with carefully sourced fruit - often from one, perhaps two sites - crafted into thoughtfully composed, finely detailed, high-end wines."
Bellingham The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2009
A Rhône-style wine with a blend of shiraz, mourvèdre and finishing with a touch of viognier. The three varieties are fermented together and later matured in French oak barrels.
Ripe black fruit, with savoury meaty notes. Powerful and intense, tightly structured with firm underlying tannins and a long finish. HK$240
Bellingham The Bernard Series, Bush Vine Pinotage 2010
Pinotage has often been written off by experts for its "burnt rubber" aromatics. This again shows the grape can make a delicious, fruity wine with proper care and attention.
The grapes are from low-yielding old vines that are not irrigated. This ensures an extensive root system, adding to the complexity of the wine.
It has been aged in French oak for 18 months, adding structure and complexity. Fresh dark berry fruit, with black cherry and spicy notes. Full body, with ripe tannins and a long finish. HK$240
Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2011
South African chenin blanc can be dilute and nondescript when made at low price points and high volume. The Bernard Series proves that it is possible to make high-quality chenin blanc that is still good value for money. The wine has won numerous awards and has been selected for British Airways' first class cabins.
Rich honey with citrus and floral notes. Silky with intense fruit and a long finish. Can be enjoyed now but will also keep for a number of years. HK$150
Available from winenthingshk.com