This past Thursday night the Commercial Appeal online tasting was hosted by dear friend and local wine guru Mike Whitfield. He picked out a real winner that really appealed to my palate, the 2008 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. $15, 13.5% abv. Pure Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa.
While this winery is only 20 years old, the region has been producing wine for 350 years. South Africa is unique among wine-producing countries in that we have a precise date of the very first wine made there: February 2, 1659. You can thank the meticulous Dutch for that kind of record-keeping; I've seen many "authoritative" yet conflicting accounts of the first wine made in the United States. I think about a dozen states claim the title, based on various definitions of "wine" and "United States" (e.g. Vitis labrusca wine made in the 1500s in Florida, which was Spanish territory). And if the Vikings ever made it far enough south, Maine might hold the title, taking the matter back a thousand years into the mist of legend.
What do I keep saying, folks? History in a glass.
Nice wet granite aroma, hint of lavender. After it warms up there's a vegetal character to it. Big acidity, fruity yet dry, and it's got a flavor of overripe strawberries. The 2009 has just arrived, and most of the people who participated in the tasting were drinking the newer vintage. This wine has great structure to it, and not all rosés are as delicate as their name might suggest.
You don't really associate rosé with South Africa, nor do you often see Cabernet Sauvignon made in this style. But it definitely works. The Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc is also outstanding, and the bottles are easy to find due to the unique longitudinal label. If you're not familiar with South African wines, Mulderbosch is a great place to start. You'll get serious, European-style wines made on the very southern tip of the African continent.