“MR de Compostella, have you tried that?”, asks my chum, Greg. “Mr who?”, I think, before he explains.
To explain, MR de Compostella is not a chap who deals in garden fertiliser. It is a collaboration between a oenologist, Mzokona Mvemve (the ‘M’, he happens to be one of the first black qualified oenologists in South Africa), and a vineyard owner, Bruwer Raats (the ‘R’ who, despite the opportunity for brilliant nominative determinism, does not make beer, but grows grapes and makes wine for Raats Family Vineyards).
The rest of the wine’s name, de Compostella, means ‘Composed of stars’, as in a constellation. The idea behind this name is that the best and most effulgent components (barrel selections), should be chosen each year to make a whole that shines with a more synergistic brightness than the individual stars would themselves. The whole constellation is a symbol for the one goal of the wine – to be of the highest quality.
This means that the blend of grapes can change each year, although it is usually Cabernet Franc dominated, as the components that are highest quality each year can change. Such dedication to quality has paid off and in five consecutive years MR de Compostella has been awarded the highest marks possible in Platters, the most serious guide to quality wine in South Africa.
In this, the excellent 2017 vintage of MR de Compostella, the blend of varietals is 54% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot – that is a pretty Claret-y blend. It clocks in at at 14.5% alcohol.
I think that is enough of a introductory preamble, do you not agree? Let us pop that cork and get tasting!
I have been warned that this will need a good decant, as it is a long way from readiness to drink. I will have a sniff and a slurp whilst I am doing the business.
Good lord! MR de Compostella’s set of aromas is almost eicastic of a nose I have not encountered since the early nineties. I last smelled something almost identical to this when I was decanting Chateau Cheval Blanc 1985 for a friend considerably more well-heeled than me.
It has the spiky, leafy aroma of Cabernet Franc, swirled into a complex melange of other varietal favours with a complex, gravelly under-pinning. It smells stunning!
MR de Compostella 2017 tastes very tannic, with plenty of fresh, energetic acidity and a cascade of ripe, vivid fruit. Clearly, this needs more time to breathe, so I will pop out for a few hours and drink this when I return for lunch.
Three-and-one-half hours have passed and I am ready for tasting action. It is time for The Editor and I to get protuberances in glasses to see if MR de Compostella 2017 has opened for business!
Hell’s bells has this opened up! I see why MR de Compostella 2017 is described as a single constellation composed of individual stars. Yes, if you sniff with a leap of imagination you might be able to say you can detect the individual components in the ratios they are blended. But no, the fruit is a seamless expression of an impossible hybrid of blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry and redcurrant.
‘Seamless’ is a good descriptor for MR de Compostella’s nose as a whole entity. Yes, you can say you can detect a crushed granitic minerality, freshly shaved cedar wood and so on. However, this nose really displays itself as a eucratic continuum of aromas that are of supreme elegance and skinkle with extreme quality.
Even though MR de Compostella 2017 has had an elevage in 100% new French oak barriques, there is no hint of heavy oak use as a single entity on the nose. So oak does form part of the elegant, refined melange of flavours, but is just a glisk in the synergistic entity they form.
MR de Compostella throbs with dimension and the depth of flavour is astounding, but all this this meganology of complexity, style and class is just a single constellation; many subsumed into a greater entity that glows with an explendency of harmony, refinement and elegance. It is simply wonderful.
The theme of seamless elegance is continued on MR de Compostella’s palate, but it is more suggestive of a wine that needs a long time in the cellar.
The characteristics of MR de Compostella 2017’s nose are carried over to the palate; the complex binding between components of fruit, oak, minerality into an elegant whole is very obvious.
However, MR de Compostella’s structure is rather butch at this stage in its development. I think the tannin and acidity are present at appropriate levels for a wine that is designed to have a long life in the cellar, but I am tasting this when it is four years old!
The tannins are sleek and polished, but certainly pronounced, They are the basis for a refined and solid structure. MR de Compostella’s palate is kept brisk and vivacious by good acidity that energises the tannins and makes the seamless blend of other flavours seem alive and vibrant.
MR de Compostella’s confidently structured; elegant, certainly, but bold. That is why I suggest you do not touch any of yours for… ooohhh… 5-7 years.
After this time it should begin to be drinking, but this is a wine carefully made to reward patience and idoneously sensible hobbies. You should be aiming to be alive for 15-30 more years to be able to enjoy MR de Compostella at its coruscating best. Do not take up sky-diving! Keep your feet on the ground and in 15-20 years MR de Compostella will show you the stars. It is brilliant!
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