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WINE REVIEW: Glenelly, 2012 Lady May, Stellenbosch, South Africa ($55)

by Andrew Chalk

Think of this wine as Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, one of the most prestigious Châteaux in Bordeaux, transported to the South African context. It is made by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, former owner of Pichon-Lalande (as it is known). She sold Pichon-Lalande in 2007 to the owners of Roederer Champagne and moved to South Africa. She had purchased Glenelly in 2003 but now threw herself into it full time.

This wine is a Bordeaux blend, indeed a Mèdoc blend, of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet France. The grapes are grown on well-drained east-facing slopes giving access to breezes and slow ripening. This is the estate’s flagship, named in honor of May-Eliane.

I have tasted other attempts at a ‘grand cru’ wine from the Cape, notably 4G, and found them good, the latter warranting the title on quality criteria. It is in expressing terroir that it fell short. In the Lady May, the Bordeaux nuances are striking. Deep cedar notes in the nose, raspberry fruit, and oak. In the mouth, vibrant acid, enlivens intense red fruit in a framework of redoubtable tannins that will likely ensure ageing for a decade.

Serve with steak, roast beef, or prime rib. Consider Glenelly Lady May a solid value alternative to a classified growth Bordeaux. It really is that good.




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