To be frank, the name Journey’s End reminds me of a grim play about the First World War, which we had to study at school. But there’s nothing grim about the beautiful Stellenbosch vineyards where South Africa’s Journey’s End winery can be found (just look at that view, above). I’ve never visited Stellenbosch in person, but from what I’ve seen in pictures it’s a lush paradise of azure skies and undulating hills.
If you ever shop at Waitrose, you’ll probably recognise some of Journey’s End’s labels from the wine aisle. I recently sampled a couple of them: the Honey Drop Chardonnay and the Pastor’s Blend, which is similar to a red Bordeaux.
One aspect I love about South African wines is their unapologetic boldness. And both of these wines exhibit the sunshine-infused richness you’d expect from Stellenbosch’s balmy slopes.
As its name suggests, the Honey Drop is full and creamy, with oaky vanilla and butterscotch notes and stone fruit flavours. It’s unmistakably Chardonnay, but what did surprise me was a touch of rubberiness you’d normally associate with Riesling. I wasn’t imagining it, either. My girlfriend said it “smells like a pump you’d use to inflate a blow-up bed”.
She always has the most imaginative/weird descriptions, but she has a point. Not that this is a bad thing — I personally find that unusual Rieslingy flavour really pleasant and evocative and the Honey Drop is my kind of wine.
The Pastor’s Blend, meanwhile, is a claret-style remix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with some Cab Franc dripped in for good measure. All wrapped up in a distinctively medieval label, like something from the Canterbury Tales, it’s pleasant, easy-drinking and full of vibrant dark-fruit flavours and smooth tannins. Serve this one in a pewter goblet while dressed as a character from Robin Hood, and everyone’s a winner.
The Honey Drop Chardonnay (13.5% vol, £11.99) is available from Majestic Wines.
And you can find the Pastor’s Blend (13.5% vol, £14) at Noble Green.
Click here for more of my Journey’s End wine-tasting exploits.
And see www.journeysend.co.za for further details.