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Glenelly Lady May 2015, 2012, 2010, 2008

December 13, 2021

Wine Clique of Singapore generously organised a virtual tasting of the wines of Glenelly on 02 December 2021 with the estate’s brand ambassador Ms Lia Johns Poveda. Those who are familiar would know that this South African estate came about when May-Éliane de Lencquesaing, owner of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, purchased a plot of land in 2003 on the lower slopes of Simonsberg and named it after a fruit farm that had been there back in 1911. The team from Pichon Lalande began work the following year, planting some 60 hectares of vines at a density of 4,666 vines per hectare in north-south orientation which produced the inaugural vintage in 2008. About 24 ha is devoted to cabernet sauvignon while the remainder is split amongst the other Bordeaux grape varietals. Following the tradition of Pichon Lalande, a substantial quantity of petit verdot is planted as well and included within the blend. The Mediterranean climate in that part of Stellenbosch suits the Bordeaux blend perfectly while the steep slopes promote drainage. The estate has utilised organic methods since 2018. The team prefers to pick early in order to control alcohol levels and optimise acidity. Vinification takes place in 100% French oak. Its grand vin is the Lady May (the Estate Reserve Red is not truly a second wine, being blended with syrah). Already setting a high bar with its inaugural 2008, the estate has gone from strength to strength on the evidence of this tasting, producing wines that are consistently elegant, seamlessly layered with subtle detail and understated power. Just like Pichon Lalande, the Glenelly Lady May is made for true connoisseurs, not label drinkers.

2020 Glenelly Estate Reserve Chardonnay. Made from whole bunches of Dijon clones, aged 9 months in 500L French barrels. Luminous, exuding an attractive creamy buttery nose against a chalky backdrop with further notes of brioche, vanillin and white fruits on the medium-bodied palate, exerting superb delicate mouthfeel with lovely tension. Very well-balanced with fine depth and detail of stony minerals, supported by highly-refined acidity, finishing with fine linearity and gentle persistence. Very correct in every way.

2015 Glenelly Estate Reserve Red. Very deep garnet. Bordeaux blend with 15% syrah, the latter clearly evident by the distinct notes of chilli skins and capsicum on the nose as well as spicy tones on the rounded medium-weight palate imbued with abundant wild berries, dark plums and black pepper. Subtly structured with good vigour and understated intensity, though a little nondescript towards the finish.

2015 Glenelly Lady May. A blend of 69% cabernet sauvignon, 13% cabernet franc, 11% merlot, and 7% petit verdot. Deep garnet. Capsicum and dark currants dominate amid traces of haw, quickly developing ripe plummy tones on the medium-bodied fleshy palate. Seamlessly integrated with understated acidity, imbued with a deeper vein of subtle black fruits that oozed with a trace of sweetness. Finished well. Highly harmonious. Very successful.

2012 Glenelly Lady May. A blend of 89% cabernet sauvignon, 1% cabernet franc and 10% petit verdot. Very deep crimson, proffering a lovely bouquet of plummy red fruit that hinted at a lush palate though the palate is distinctly earthy and darkish in tone, already evolving with early secondary characteristics. Almost velvety though it avoids any sort of burliness through its dry structured intensity that convey excellent definition and precision with slick acidity, just a little austere towards its finish. Its relative robustness suggests that it may be a little out of place in the line-up but it has real character.

2010 Glenelly Lady May. A blend of 90% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot, and 5% petit verdot. From a dry vintage. Dark brownish red, displaying secondary characteristics of leather, capsicum and ember on the nose. Fleshy and softly rounded, slightly backward on the palate where dark plums dominate with fine attack and intensity amid gamey characters, finishing on a note of austere minerals.

2008 Glenelly Lady May. My first encounter of this inaugural vintage was ten years ago ( and how wonderful it is to be re-acquainted with it again. Dark brownish-red, this blend of 91% cabernet sauvignon and 9% petit verdot proffers a classic cabernet glow with fine complexity on the nose. Medium-full with a relaxed fleshy open feel, seamlessly integrated, showing very good length and balance with fine detail and sleek elegance, proving beyond doubt the longevity of Lady May in bottle. At its peak and will hold.

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