WineX is the last of the big wine shows in the calendar before Christmas. It stretches over three days, starting on a Wednesday, ending on a Friday. In the last years it was quite opportune to go there on Wednesday, as all the people of the trade were there with a reduced audience allowing better access to the wine stands on the various islands. Come Friday, WineX had succumbed to a booze-up of the nouveau riche and glitzy people. More eye candy than palate potential, unfortunately!
Very different this time around! I just came back from a business trip and had to go to WineX on a Friday, which I dreaded enormously with my experience from previous years. My fears were in vain, and I was positively surprised this time around. Not only were people well behaved, hardly any drunken people floating around, but I also found the rainbow nation tasting the more enjoyable things in life. Apart from ex-Gauteng Premier Shilowa behind his Epicurean stand, there were a fair number of black diamonds tasting the wines of SA, something I would consider a very positive development in this country’s astonishing history. The Rainbow Nation was (almost) represented at this year’s WineX.
The more careful approach to drink and drive by many that night might be a result of Gauteng’s Metropolitan Police’s latest activity at night, whereby most of us have been stopped at least once in a roadblock and checked for alcohol in the recent months. Taxis are the answer to not losing your driver’s license, and these were available on the evening in abundance.
Now more importantly to the wines: In order not to repeat myself, I will leave out wines which I had punted for in previous blogs, which leaves out most white wines, except for two. The first is the (Thelema) Sutherland Sauvignon Blanc, a really fresh and fruity drink with a sound acidity, and an even more reasonable price (Solly Kramer in Parkhurst R 49.99). The second white is not proudly South African, but Spanish, and is available at Reciprocal. The Marqués De Riscal Sauvignon Blanc is an enjoyable alternative to our more tropical variety. The Spaniard is classic in style, yet rewarding in mouthfeel.
There is a long list of reds which were truly outstanding on the night. Firstly the freshly awarded 5 star Hannibal 2009 from Bouchard Finlayson. Peter Finlayson has blended many grape varietals into this wine, amongst them Italian grape varietals. Nevertheless, the typical Bouchard Finlayson style and taste and its relationship with the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is undeniable. Two blends intrigued me last Friday. The first is the Overgaauw Tria Corda 2006, which resembles the revival of an old friend. Its leathery taste unmistakably reveals the Overgaauw terroir, and the fact that they have produced a serious heavyweight blend with gentle tannins in a rather difficult year (2006), speak reams for the quality of the winemaker and farm. The other outstanding blend is ex-Premier Shilowa’s Epicurean 2007. If you enjoy Bordeaux plus an extra bit of fruit in the style of a Baron Edmond of Rupert & Rothschild, then you will find this one very appealing too. After 4 years it is already nicely matured and ready for drinking, but also storable for another 5 years.
Four Cabernets Sauvignons or Cab dominated blends were worth mentioning, the last of the three even exceptional. The first is the Neil Ellis 2009, in a classic Stellenbosch style, rich and dense, and together with the next wine on the affordable side. The Le Riche 2009 follows the 2007 in its dark-fruity richness. After a difficult 2008, which was holding back a bit, the 2009 is again a powerhouse, with its typical but subtle tea leaves and mintyness. Moving on to higher price categories, the much lauded Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet 2009 is an outstanding wine with a crispy minerality and subtle hints of spice and cigarbox (even more so in their Shiraz). The last but certainly not least is the Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2007. This is a true flagship wine in its elegance and balance between dark fruit and oak, gentle tannins, which will allow a long storage (maturation) time, and lingering time on the palate. The price of just under R300 on the evening doesn’t make it a bargain, but I presume this is not meant to be your everyday drinking wine anyway. Irrespective of the price, it was my wine of the evening.
I thought it was the 2010 Hannibal which received 5 stars. Was it just a type above or did you really taste the 2009?
I tasted both 2009 (from under the table) and 2010 (on the table). Of course the 2009 from a better year is the better wine, but the 2010 got the 5 stars. Further questions should be asked to the 5star board of the Platter guide and their faultless palate. Nevertheless, my mistake, apologies!