Ken Forrester “T” Noble Late Harvest 2009

Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel can be described as one of the best High Tea experiences in the world, offering sweet confections and savoury selections which go hand in hand with the superb selection of premium teas. It’s so good in fact that I, many years ago, arranged my wedding reception there with a slight twist on The Mad Hatters Tea Party!!!

So an invitation to “T” at The Mount Nelson recently needed no encouragement for me to accept, although I knew the theme was not all about drinking Ceylon tea and chocolate cake! Ken Forrester of Ken Forrester Wines had invited a group of wino’s for a vertical tasting of his glorious Noble Late Harvest called the “T” (named after his wife Teresa).

The grapes for the “T” come from Ken’s prize vineyard, a 37 year old block of bush vine Chenin Blanc, at the lowest point of his property. “Carefully managing an older vineyard is the key to quality. The yields are kept around 3 to 4 tons per hectare and each bunch is left with 16-18 leaves for ripening. The vineyard is picked a minimum of eight times during harvest, with the help of the Normalised Density Vegetative Index (NDVI), a system where aerial photographs determine which pockets are ready to be picked ensuring optimal ripeness. Furthermore the property is located near False Bay, a mere 6 km from the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying a moderate, cool climate,” explains Ken.

According to Ken, making the “T” Noble Late Harvest is the ultimate expression of the grape varietal he is so passionate about, Chenin Blanc. “To make Noble Late you need a suitable vineyard, a low lying site, a perennial stream, some autumn mists in the mornings and you have the ideal botrytis situation. Luckily we have all these elements.”

The grapes are only picked when the botrytis rot is “fresh” which can happen at anytime from the end of February through to the end of May. The juice is wild yeast fermented in new 400 litre French Oak barrels and once finished goes onto mature in barrel for a further 18 months.

Ken led us through six vintages of the “T” ranging from the current 2009 to the 2000 vintage. The oldest, the 2000, had a deep amber colour with rich toffee apple flavour begging one to drink more! The other favourites in the line up were the 2005 with its intense mature orange and honey flavour and the 2001 which had supreme elegance along with rich silky layered tropical fruits showing intense botrytis character.

The current vintage, 2009, has a creamy decadence with delicate flavours of peaches and cream. It is a fine wine which I am sure will go the extra mile in years to come. After the tasting we enjoyed the 2009 with rich fruit tartlets made by the team at The Mount Nelson.

Ken sums up the “T” as the ultimate expression of Chenin Blanc. “It’s the concentration of the grape, the essence, virtually an entire summer in one sip.”

Expect to pay: R270.00

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