Perhaps one of the most well-known of South African red wines, Boekenhoutskloof’s Chocolate Block (also called THE Chocolate Block), is extremely distinctive. It is particularly favoured by people who enjoy the unusual or the unexpected in their red wines as with every other aspect of their lives, and the deep, smoky and chocolate flavours combine to make Boekenhoutskloof‘s wine a favourite among both wine connoisseurs and the ordinary wine-drinker. The attractive sweetness which gives the Chocolate Block its name is another aspect of the famous wine, and it is now possible to purchase a bottle of a more recent South African wine vintage at a very reasonable price.
The mixing of the Chocolate Block was designed to mimic the chocolate Pinotage which had been produced only a few years before, and has produced a wine with a very exciting flavour of its own. Wine tasters have described the wine as luxurious, explosive and hedonistic. The dark taste of the berries themselves gives the wine a darker, slightly sinister undertow which lasts well into the aftertaste, and this has increased its appeal. In fact, the wine is so popular among some drinkers that it could even be claimed to have developed a cult following among its fans, and in fact there have been attempts to create a graphic novel around the wine, demonstrating its impact into counter culture.
The wine has been carefully blended by Marc Kent, who has learned his trade among the Mediterranean wine-growers of France and Spain. Here he discovered how to mix Grenache and Syrah wines to give a dramatic blend. When he came back to South Africa, he was inspired to create a great wine from the different models that he had experienced, and this lead to him creating the Chocolate Block, simply by experimenting with the local wines available to him.
The Chocolate Block is consequentially a blend of a number of different wines from South Africa, and unlike most of the drink produced by this country, does not have a single Region of Origin. The grapes used to make the wine include a large amount of Syrah, a much smaller amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Grenache, Cinsault, and a very small amount of Viognier. This mix allows Kent to combine deep rich flavours of the Swartland area with that of the Piekenierskloof area, which has a much lighter, sandy landscape. Other grapes used in creating the Chocolate Block have been grown in organically farmed soils, and one in particular, the Cinsault, comes from old granite beds which have decomposed into the ground. This helps to give the Chocolate Block an earthy and sensual edge to its taste.
Once the wines have been blended, the Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block is then matured into barrels made from French oak, and left for a year and a half. This allows the wine to absorb the flavour of the barrels, as well as to mature and grow within itself. The selected wines are then chosen to ensure that only the best end up at the connoisseur’s table.