A couple of weeks ago we attended a wine tasting of the entire range of Paul Wallace wines, led by the eminent Paul Wallace himself. On this note, all images and photos featured here are from the Paul Wallace website.
We’ve been a fans of this wine farm since we got our first sip of the Black Dog Malbec a couple of years ago at the Tops Spar Wine Show.
The eye-catching packaging and the fact that they produced a straight malbec way before the ‘wave’ immediately caught our attention. Not that there’s anything wrong with the rise of malbec’s popularity since, it is just that Paul Wallace was definitely in my mind the first name that popped up when anyone mentions ‘malbec’. Since then we had a bit more exposure to their other wines, mainly due to a few Elgin Wine themed tweetup tastings we had the privilege to attend. (Thanks Melissa!) #ElginWine #ElginMagic
One thing that comes through crystal clear in every single one of Paul Wallace’s wines is ‘elegance’. Well-balanced acidity with beautiful longevity.
Wines with a (fun) backstory and names always grabs my attention, because it just adds so much more personality and you get a good idea of what the winemaker’s intention is. It seems as if that is the philosophy of Nicky Wallace, Paul’s wife and CEO of Paul Wallace wines. I like it. Wine sipping can be serious, but it must bring joy. Like Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it.
First one up was the Little Flirt Sauvignon Blanc 2017.
Named as such because it is fresh, fruity and flirtatious – don’t you just love that? These vines are planted on terraces, facing south, east and west. This wine is exactly what the name promises – fresh, fruity and easy sipping. The berries are picked ripe, so it’s got a beautiful mouthfeel, long finish, without being overly acidic. The beauty of this is also that it ages beautifully. Personal score: 17/20 R95.00 per bottle.
The second wine: Reflection Chardonnay 2017. This vineyard overlooks the dam on the farm, resulting in this beautiful reflection.
Elgin is proudly chardonnay country, so we knew that this will be a goodie (and I have tasted it previously – and loved it). This is Paul Wallace’s second chardonnay vintage. 10 months in wood, 20% new wood. Citrus-forward and buttery while still being elegantly (yes, there is that word again) well-balanced and not overly heavy. Like a chardonnay should be. I liked Paul’s recommendation to have this, not only as a food wine, but also as an aperitif. Personal score: 17/20 R230.00 per bottle
The next ones were quite interesting, a vertical tasting of the Braveheart Pinot Noir 2016 and 2017. Pinot Noir is known as the ‘heartbreak grape’, combine that with the Wallace/Scottish (Highlands Road) connection and you get a real “Braveheart”.
2013 was the first pinot noir vintage, and by 2015 they already produced an award-winning wine. The 2017 vintage was launched in December, aimed to change the masses’ perception that red wine can be a real lunchtime summer chilled wine. Both wines are beautifully fruity, with cherry and spice on the nose. Complex without being heavy. The 2017 tastes ‘younger’ of course, but holds it’s own against the 2016. A friendly warning that Elgin is positioning itself to become SA’s top pinot noir region, so watch out Hemel-en-Aarde 😉 Personal score 2016: 17/20, 2017: 16/20 R250.00 per bottle
Next in line, 2016 Crackerjack.
It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Malbec. To call a wine ‘a Bordeaux blend’ in South Africa, it must contain at least two out of the five Bordeaux varietals. This blend contains four. Crackerjack is a real ‘cracker’ of a wine, hence the name. Interesting to note that the macro climate of Elgin is the same as in Bordeaux. Makes you think, not so? Pairing recommendation – a nice leg of lamb! Personal score 18/20 R198.00 per bottle
Moving on to a personal favourite (I know I am biased already), Black Dog Malbec 2016. In 2004 Paul Wallace produced their first malbec, at that stage there were only five 100% Malbecs on the market. Since then this wine has created quite a bit of a following. Named after the distinctive dark colour of the wine, and Jake, Paul’s rottweiler/labrador cross who was also his shadow.
Jake unfortunately passed away last year. He was such an integral part of life on the farm, it is lovely to know that his legacy lives on in this iconic wine. Luckily his successor, Becky (named after Malbec of course), is doing a good job to fill his big paws. Like all malbecs, this will go great with steak. The meatlover’s wine. While still being, yes – elegant. Interesting fact, SA currently produces 53 malbecs, keeping up with the global trend as well. Summed up in three words: juicy, fruity, delicious! With an exclamation mark. Personal score 17.5/20 R190.00 per bottle
Last, but definitely not least. The Nix Sauvignon Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2017. To honour the CEO of Paul Wallace wines, Nicky Wallace.
Don’t expect anything overly syrupy and sweet, The Nix offers a good acid balance, very palatable indeed! Interestingly, this wine spent 6 months in wood, adding to the beautiful elegance. Paul shared a delicious recipe to be paired with this wine as a starter. (Not sharing it here, I’m sure it will pop up in our future pairings). I agree with Paul here, this is such a lovely wine, why only have it at the end of an evening/meal? In limited quantities, I must get my hands on this! It has got good aging potential as well. Personal score 16.5/20 R250.00 per bottle.
It is fantastic to hear how enthusiastic and appreciative Paul Wallace is about the Gauteng market. We appreciate you just as much! What an insightful and educational evening. BTW, during last year’s #BoozyFoodieCapeTwist we wanted to stop by the farm, but being out of season it looked as if they were closed, our planned visit didn’t happen. We hope to see you later this year though, we will book in advance this time!
If you want to get hold of these beautiful wines, it may be necessary to order. I was specifically looking for The Nix, so we ordered some from The Good Oakes in Pretoria (crossing fingers that we will receive it soon :)). Paul Wallace’s local representative is Shannon Tucker, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have contacted Nicky directly (I didn’t check the website properly, I only saw Shannon’s contact details now), and she confirmed that is is possible to order from the farm directly as well, minimum of 6 bottles (mixed if you want) of course.
Find out more about Paul Wallace wines: https://www.paulwallacewines.co.za/
PS: How does the scoring work? A total score of 20, consisting of a maximum of 3 for appearance, 7 for nose and 10 for taste.