Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wine Society Tasting - Wines of South Africa

A bunch of us attended this tasting on Wednesday evening (October 14th, 2009). These Wine Society events can be good fun and enlightening - or they can be laborious. This one was something in the middle, as there were a lot of wines (around 30), and a lot of people (it was uncomfortably crowded). The ticket prices are quite steep at £27.50, but you get to taste around 20 - 30 wines in a lovely venue (usually some sort of guild hall). Usually there are wines from the whole range, from cheap and cheerful to high-end and expensive.

Overall I was impressed with the wines, especially the reds. The good stuff was in the £15 range, although there were a couple under £10 that I liked as well. Highlights included:
  • Boekenhoutskloof. The Chocolate Block 2007 (£14.95) didn't impress so much, but the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah varietals were lovely (£20 and £23 respectively). Boekenhoutskloof also produce the Porcupine Ridge label, which is an excellent value range that you can pick up in supermarkets.
  • Chamonix. The Chamonix Rouge I thought was the best value wine there. For £5.75 you get an easy drinking blend of merlot, cab franc, malbec and cab sauvignon. If I was buying anything it would have been this.
  • Kanonkop. At this point in the evening everyone was getting a bit fatigued, but that didn't stop these wines from impressing. Excellent Pinotage (£17) and Cabernet Sauvignon (£18) varietals, as well as a lovely blend - 'Paul Sauer' (£20). These wines were big, rich and complex and would also benefit from the cellar treatment.
  • Quoin Rock. The 2003 Chardonnay was lovely - barrel fermented and bottle aged. For £9.95 it is a good deal.
  • Tierhoek. The Tierhoek Straw Wine is a delicious sweet wine with a lovely nutty finish made from air dried Chenin Blanc grapes. Not cheap at £19 per half-bottle.
  • Warwick Estate. I've tried Warwick Estate wines before - they're available at Waitrose (a Sauvignon Blanc and a Bordeaux blend called 'The First Lady'). 'The First Lady' was showcased here, and also a Wine Society own label blend - 'Exhibition Cape Blend' (£8.95). I liked The First Lady when I tried it from Waitrose, but here compared to some of the finer reds it paled a bit, but for £7.95 it's a good wine for the price. I don't think I tried the Exhibition Cape Blend...

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