Andreas Rompel is an unusual wine commentator for five reasons: 1) he doesn’t live in Cape Town or environs; 2) he buys his own wine; 3) he has no formal wine “qualifications” except for an extensive track record of drinking the stuff; 4) he routinely tastes different wines from around the world and has no SA “cellar palate”; 5) he has no connections to any producer, retailer or restaurant.
As such, his opinion is about as unbiased as you can get. He is an everyman Bacchus, so I asked him for a report back on the various wine events held in Johannesburg this month.
The Battle of the Vintages:
Last Monday Meridian held their annual wine tasting at the Hyatt. New to their range is Buitenverwachting, which is highly appreciated as they have produced fantastic wines over the years. There was a sharp contrast between good and bad, which correlated strongly with the vintages. The odd years have produced outstanding vintages of late, whereas the even years were dull, green or even way too acidic (white wines). On display were mostly reds from 2006, 2007 and 2008, while the white wines originated from 2008, 2009 and 2010. Herewith the stars in their respective categories:
Sauvignon Blanc: Buitenverwachting Hussey’s Vlei 2009
Chardonnay: De Wetshof Bateleur 2007
Chenin Blanc: Ken Forrester 2009 (wooded), also the wooded Kanu
Semillion: Steenberg 2009 (pricy)
Pinot Noir: Haute Cabrière 2007 (Achim can produce a decent Pinot in a good year, easy drinking though, not serious Pinot)
Shiraz: Rust en Vrede 2007
Cabernet: Rust en Vrede 2007
Blend: Ernie Els Signature 2006 (very expensive though), Buitenverwachting 2006, proof that a good winemaker can make a good wine in a bad year. The Buitenverwachting Meifort 2007 at a retail price of +/- R 60 is a fantastic everyday drinking house wine. Careful with Meerlust Rubicon 2006, something seems to be faulty with suppressed fruit and a corky nose and palate. Same happened later as I re-tasted the Rubicon from a different bottle.
The Wanderers Club was again host to Juliet Cullinan’s annual wine show. Wines which already appeared in the Meridian write up above have not been repeated here. But these were the best wines in their respective categories:
Sauvignon Blanc: Paul Cluver 2010, Groot Constantia 2010
Chardonnay: Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale 2009, Edgbaston 2009 (not quite as elegant, but in the Glen Carlou mould)
White Blend: Vergelegen 2009
Pinot Noir: Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2009
Best Cabernet: Edgbaston 2007 (value for money at under R90)
Best Shiraz: Rijk’s 2004
Best Pinotage: Rijk’s Reserve 2006 (truly good, no resemblance with rubbery, green banana flavoured pinotages)
News from Oz:
During my recent stay in Sydney and Perth I had the chance of updating my palate with the latest vintages of Aussie wines. Herewith a short list of highly recommendable ones:
Henschke Henry Seven 2006 – For approx. AUS$ 31 a very fine drop, not too peppery, but elegant.
Snake Charmer Shiraz 2007 – Classic peppery Shiraz, not top range though, good with food that needs a wine with some substance.
Samuel’s Gorge Shiraz 2008 – absolute stonker amongst the Shiraz’ tasted.
Should you require a Pinot Noir, go straight to New Zealand, as Australians produce mere fruit juice (except Tasmania). NZ is available all over OZ, hence do not hesitate to lay your hands on a Murdock James Martinborough Blue Rock 2006 or even better a Prophet’s Rock 2006 from Central Otago.