BY NEAL MARTIN | JULY 06, 2020
Readers that saw last month’s Vinous Live with Chris and Andrea Mullineux will have noticed that both interviewer and interviewee in Surrey and Swartland respectively, were drinking a sweet wine, the Olerasay 2°. Having received the bottle a few weeks earlier I kept it back for that interview. My expectations were high since the maiden release had received my highest ever score for a South African wine. Until now. This is the first South African wine that I have been moved to score 100 points. Who knows if it will be another decade when a wine from the Cape moves me to do it again?
“Every year we make a vintage straw wine and hold back a portion that we do not bottle, but blend into the Solera,” Chris Mullineux explained. “The Solera is therefore refreshed with the new vintage each year. All barrels of the Solera are a fractional blend containing all vintages from 2008 to 2019. We have not bottled Olerasay every year as we want it to be significantly more concentrated, complex and distinct from our Vintage Straw Wine. For this, we bottled 6,180 bottles which was about half of the Solera and the remainder is resting in our cellar to be added to and built up into the future. We refer to this bottling as Olerasay 2° (Segundo) whilst the first bottling that contained vintages from 2008 to 2014 is Olerasay 1° (Primiero).”
The Olerasay 2° is 100% Chenin Blanc with 8.5% alcohol and 331g/l of residual sugar, not that you notice those figures. It was bottled on 17 January 2020. It is an ethereal wine that gives me no choice but to use a simple word loaded with meaning and one I rarely use with respect to wine…perfection. The 375ml bottle was examined over the course of two weeks during which time it barely changed. Each time I put it under a microscope looking for a fault. I never found one. Golden in colour, it has an intoxicating bouquet with orange sorbet, quince, lemon verbena and a very slight Aszú-like note that hovers in the background. Having recently tasted plenty of Sauternes, I can’t help noticing how the aromatics are unencumbered by a thick cloak of oak, thereby lending the bouquet brightness and vividness that is totally enthralling. This all translates across to the crystalline palate. The perfect seam of acidity cuts like an ancient Samurai sword through the viscous fruit whose purity is off the charts. This electrifying Olerasay does not mess about – it immediately thrills the senses with its mélange of blood orange, apricot, crushed minerals and passion fruit. There is so much energy in this wine. The finish has a weightless quality that means, despite its high residual sugar level, the wine is actually easy to drink and is not weighed down by its own unctuousness. The killer aspect of this is the soupçon of bitter orange that hits the back of the throat. I suspected that a perfect Olerasay was possible after the first iteration. This is it. Despite this being a Cellar Favorite, don’t feel you are committing a heinous crime popping the cork now because who knows where we will be by the end of 2020. Just bear in mind that this wine will last decades. The Olerasay 2° is due for release and is available through Skurnik Wines in the United States and through Berry Brothers & Rudd in the UK. 100/Drink 2020-2080.