That One with the Label
The relationship of wine lovers and wine labels is a complicated one. As discussed in my Chronic Cellars piece, the success of critter wines has built distrust; unlike with craft beer, when we see a nice label, we immediately wonder what it is hiding. In fact, I often tell people to, as a general rule, avoid buying wines with labels they like (assuming they know nothing else about the wine).
I must admit, however, that I’ve always been intrigued by Mulderbosh’s bottles. Surely you’ve seen them. Clear glass, with a thin, horizonally-typed label running straight down the center. Very unique and different, especially the way that pink-hued rose peeks out of the clear glass. (I’m not a big fan of clear glass either, because of storage concerns, but that’s another conversation.)
Anyway, perhaps due to my aformentioned label rule, though I’d seen these wines on many occasions, and despite my general love of South African juice, I’d never actually given them a try. So when a chance to taste a few samples came across the desk I obviously took it.
The Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2013 ($14.29), perhaps the brand’s flagship, if only because of its stunning presence on any shelf, is flat-out delicious. This is chugging Rose, pure watermelon juice of the highest order. To borrow from a description I once used on another South African wine, this is the type of wine you open on a Tuesday night for a glass with dinner, and next thing you know you’re tipping an empty bottle, wondering what happened. Though certainly a great choice for the summer months, it’d also make a great starter wine for upcoming holiday dinners.
The Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2011 ($14.99), or Steen as it is known in South Africa, also comes in the trademark bottle. Steen comes in a wide variety of styles, from a rounder, fuller version reminiscent of California Chardonnay to a more austere rendering that could be likened to Sauvignon Blanc. This one, though easy to drink, is on the sharper side, with grassy notes and crisp acidity. Personally I prefer the plusher mood of Steen, but this will appeal to Sauv Blanc fans, especially those who liked the popular Fairview Sauvignon Blanc Chairman’s Selection from a couple of years ago.
Lastly was the Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2012 ($24.39), a bottle that reverts to a more traditional label design. Not to rely too much on the judging a book by its cover motif here, but this one will, on the surface, appeal to dog lovers, as its name and label pays tribute to they hound who lived on the Mulderbosch estate and who, as the story goes, waited each day for nearly three years after the passing of his owner under the oak tree where they greeted every evening, until he himself passed.
As for the wine, it’s a Cab-centric Bordeaux blend, a little lighter in style in the 2012 vintage, with both the typical dark fruit characteristics and touches of earth, but also a streak of tart cranberry that brings a medium-weight, food-friendly playfulness not always found in these new world reds. Try it with roast chicken.
Note: Since these wines are all widely available, they’re the type that can typically be found at much better prices, and thus offer much better QPR when purchased outside of PA. Faithful Hound, for example, is currently on sale at Wine Works in Marlton NJ for $16.98, and the Rose is on sale at Wine.com for $9.99.