The Chocolate Block is a beautiful wine: smooth, red, juicy and rich. You could call it opulent, but it is better than that, as it has a wonderful balance and freshness that comes from the old vines that provide its fruit.
And it's certainly classy, with complex flavours of mixed spices, plum, blackberry and cocoa, knit very well together and a suave savoury note from the French oak barrels on a very long finish.
It's safe to say that The Chocolate Block has become iconic, boutique, niche and extremely popular, this field blend is one of the most unlikely success stories in recent wine history.
Made from grapes grown in a field that they didn't own, the wine tasted to some people as though it had had chocolate added to it! Then the rumours (possibly started in the winery...) began to circulate that they did add chocolate... which of course they certainly do not.
And it went from being impossible to buy because they made so little of it, to a staple of the company's output. They now make in excess of 2,000 barrels per annum, each of which holds a minimum of 300 bottles - do the math - there is no more 'boutique' as anyone would read a regular interpretation of the word!
The Chocolate Block started life, in the leased vineyard, as a wine from Franschhoek, which is to the east of Stellenbosch and Cape Town. These days however, the fruit for this wine and for many of the other Syrah-based wines made by Boekenhoutskloof, are from old, gnarly, dry-grown vines in Swartland, way over to the north and west of the Cape, some 90km away from the winery.
However, they aren't slow - this is a quest for the best fruit that the Cape has to offer and as it happens, for their red blend styles, this is they way that they have found to be best for them. The proof is certainly in a very fine pudding here.
Critical acclaim for The Chocolate Block wine.
"Shortly into taking notes on this wine, I gave up and wrote, “Oh yum.” With less syrah and more grenache and cinsault than the 2016, it’s super-floral and spicy, with a crushed-berry freshness to the fruit that makes it immediately appealing. Stay with it for a few moments and it develops the savor of a steak cooked black and blue, the bloody tang of the meat and smokiness of the grill marks adding a deep savor. Poured blind, it’d be easily confused for a top Rhône grenache—at least, until the price is revealed." 93 points, Wine & Spirits Magazine
"One of South Africa’s most successful brands, selling at a price that many producers can only dream of, this Syrah-based cuvée with Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier is smooth, youthful and floral, with Asian spices, bramble and blueberry fruit, some tannic backbone and the potential to age further in bottle. 2020-26." 93 points, Tim Atkin MW
Country: South Africa
Grape(s): Viognier, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon
Style: Svelte, Structured, Smooth, Silky, Iconic, Full, Complex, Broad
Best food matches: Venison, Steak, Red Meats, Pork, Mature Cheeses, Hard Cheeses, Grills, Game, Fine Dining, Beef