Friday, August 29, 2014

Marvelous Wines of South Africa-$14.99 : Marvelous Yellow 2012, Marvelous Red 2011

By Dwight Casimere

Marvelous! That single word sums up the overall impression left by two bracing wine blends from the Mulderbosch estate of South Africa. The Marvelous Yellow 2012, is a unique blend of Chenin Blanc (60%), Chardonnay (30%) and Viognier (10%). Marvelous Red 2011 is a blend of Syrah(83%), Grenache(9%), Mourvedre (5%) and  Viognier (3%).

If the blends seem somewhat unconventional, the resulting wine is touched by genius. Once you learn the backgrounds of the three creators involved, it seems logical that only something magical can result from their collaboration. Winemaker Adam Mason returned to his native Stellenbosch after a chance encounter harvesting Muscadet grapes in France gave him his first winemaking experience. To say that he became hooked on a life in winemaking is an understatement.

While working at Klein Constantia winery in South Africa, he concurrently worked a vintage with Andy Erickson at the famed (and mysterious) Screaming Eagle winery in Napa Valley. It was there that he encountered the winery's managing partner,Charles Banks, the millionaire venture capitalist known for his far-flung investments in wineries in Napa, France and, most recently,  South Africa. A seed was planted, and it wasn't long before Mason found himself chief winemaker at Mulderbosch estate in Stellenbosch; a dream job. Enter master chef Peter Tempelhoff, a native of South African who began his culinary journey at the Cape Town Institute of Culinary Arts before garnering attention at some of London's most famous restaurants; Quo Vadis, the Michelin starred Hambleton Hall and finally the one Michelin starred restaurant, Zafferano. Returning to South Africa in 2006, Tempelhoff dove headfirst into the burgeoning culinary firmament of his homeland, first as Executive Chef at the  award-winning Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, where he was named the Sunday Times Chef of the Year 2007 and then in 2008, accepting the position to oversee the five Relais Chateaux restaurants within "The Collection by Liz McGrath" as Executive Chef where he was awarded as "Relais and Chateaux Grand Chef" at their annual congress in Portugal.

From their collective expertise and passion for wine, thus Marvelous was born.

Marvelous Yellow 2012 ($14.99), is a bracing, fruit-laden wine bursting with luscious flavors of tropical fruit and opulent aromas of fresh cut wildflowers. The heady mix of floral decadence is contrasted by an austere minerality that lends itself to a flavorful meal. A slight hint of toasty oak gives it a creaminess that sits well on the tongue, followed by a long, crystalline finish.  Light pasta dishes scented with fresh grown herbs are the meal of choice. Dishes flavored with basil, rosemary, tarragon or fresh fennel come to mind. I tried it with a chicken scallopini flavored with fresh basil, flat leafed parsley, mushrooms and tomatoes, substituting a half cup of Marvelous Yellow for the Marsala wine called for in the recipe, and the resulting combination was so satisfying, I had it again the next day!

Marvelous Red 2011 (also $14.99) is what happens when four grape varieties, a chef, a winemaker and an enthusiastic entrepreneur collide. The result is a highly complex wine brimming with spice, mouth filling dark jammy fruit and the slight  aroma of oak and spice. Marvelous red is well suited for outdoor barbeques and almost any type of hearty meat or game meat right off the grill. Lamb, marinated ribs or even a burger are sure to shine when paired with Marvelous Red. Add a heaping mound of mushrooms, a handful of fresh herbs, especially savory rosemary or sage, and a mound of farm fresh cheese and you're off to the culinary races!

This wine has a velvety texture on the tongue that makes it a perfect accompaniment for grilled meat of almost any kind. A turkey burger, drenched in Worcestershire and smothered in fresh rosemary and a dollop of fresh buffalo mozzarella and a smattering of caramelized sweet Vidalia onions gave ample running room for the fresh grapey flavors and soft tannins of this beautifully made wine.

Marvelous Yellow 2012 and Marvelous Red 2011 are two wines that are ready to drink now, but will maintain their body and flavor through 2016. At $14.99 a bottle, its not hard to consider making room in your cellar for a case or two to enjoy down the culinary road.

Winemaker Adam Mason
Chef Peter Tempelhoff
Venture capitalist Charles Banks with his wife Ali and ventures Screaming Eagle of Napa and Mulderbosch wines of South Africa
Mulderbosch estate in Stellenbosch
Marvelous Yellow 2012 with chicken scallopini

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