The other week, Mike Dawson from South African winemakers Journey’s End hosted a tasting at the Gingerman restaurant in Hove — which is a local favourite, by the way. Annoyingly, I wasn’t able to make it, but they set me aside a few bottles to collect. So, a couple of days later, I snuck in during the twilight hours, using my ninja grappling hook, lobbed a smoke bomb into the kitchen, karate-chopped the sous chef and liberated the case from their storage cupboard (In reality, I asked politely if they had some wines set aside for Gary, and they said yes.)
Journey’s End Winery
Slap in the heart of the prestigious Stellenbosch region, not far east of Cape Town, Journey’s End is a winery with an admirable low-intervention approach to winemaking — it’s one of the few solar powered wineries in South Africa, or instance.
The wines I tasted are a trio from Journey’s End’s mid-weight “V Range”: a Chardonnay (left in the picture above), a Bluegum Merlot (right) and a Sir Lowry Cabernet Sauvignon (centre).
I’d been told in advance that the 2018 Chardonnay was especially popular, and I can see why. Made in an Old-World style and comparable with a good Burgundy, it was my favourite of the three. Peach, pear and melon flavours combine beautifully with a lick of citrus and a fair chunk of vanilla from oak ageing. There’s also a creamy, buttery texture, which is the result of malolactic fermentation (the process of converting the malic acid to smoother lactic acid).
Next up was the Bluegum Merlot, from 2017. This one had been matured for 16 months in American and French oak barrels, but I felt it was a touch on the young side. Ideally, I’d recommend decanting and and leaving to breathe for a good half an hour before drinking, because the tannins might be a touch harsh for some. There are, however, some pleasant cherry and blackcurrant flavours in there, alongside that menthol/eucalyptus flavour I love so much in many Bordeaux wines.
The 2017 Sir Lowry Cabernet Sauvignon was my pick of the reds, with its rich dark-fruit aromas of plum and blackcurrant, and a touch of savoury pepper. Cab Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape in Stellenbosch and this is a versatile wine that will pair perfectly with any red meat. I resisted the urge to mix it with the Merlot to concoct my own Bordeaux-style blend, although I reckon it would have been really tasty! I might have to sneak back under cover of darkness to stealthily purloin some more. Alternatively, I could just buy it from the Waitrose across the road.
Journey’s End Chardonnay 2018, 13.5% volume.
Available from Waitrose for £15.49
Journey’s End Bluegum Merlot 2017, 14% volume.
Available from Sainsbury’s for £11.50
Journey’s End Sir Lowry Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, 14% volume.
Available from Waitrose for £14.99
See www.journeysend.co.za for further details.