Our regular geological gourmet, Andy Rompel, now lives in Lima, Peru. Which has not slowed down his wine consumption any. His latest words on wine:
LAN, the Chilean air carrier, and QANTAS of Australia now offer a direct link between Santiago and Sydney. No more lengthy stop-over’s in Auckland, New Zealand! Having been on this flight recently allows me to report back on both sides, the South American and Australian end and give you an update on the latest wine recommendations.
Communication problems in Vredendal mean that Mapping Terroir : Days Seven and Eight will follow next week. Meantime, a Malmesbury Mystery when we travelled to Darling to continue the quest to map terroir. Below is Shaun McLaughlan pouring at Mount Pleasant yesterday morning.
Tasting the Olifants River Sauvignon Blancs 2012 straight after the Young Wine Show had given them a go, we were blown away. One three heart, one two heart and three hearts out of ten wines tasted. To taste what we’re talking about, try the Sir Lambert 2012. Monika Greef, the west coast wine route Miss who becomes a Mrs next weekend, was “so happy” as the same wines failed to skitter at the Young Wine Show. Could it be that Charles Hopkins,Erika Obermeyer and the other judges are on an asparagus trip? We’ll have to wait for the results to see. Here is Anibal tasting blind in Vredendal this morning. Wish more wine guides tasted this way!
A fabulous lunch of borscht followed by fillet with shiraz jus at Overhex International this lunchtime with JC Martin, Natalie van Rooyen-Malan and Gerhard van der Wath, below. To drink, a juicy white Fairtrade Haven Point Viognier/Shiraz 2012 from the Swartland and an invitation to Cape Wine 2012, my second. Can’t wait! The borscht recipe is a copycat of the one at Babel restaurant on the tony Babylonstoren Estate in Paarl and Gerhard reckons its just as good.
We tasted almost three hundred Robertson wines over the last two days and the terroir jigsaw puzzle is starting to reveal itself. Full bodied Cabernets without those grassy pyrazines of Durbanville. Rich Chardonnays lacking the racy acidity of Elgin. Spicy Shiraz without the mintiness of Bot River. Elizma Botha (below) and her merry team were cheerful accomplices without whom we’d have progressed at a snail’s pace.
When Chris Alheit (below) heard we’d be terroir tasting in his Hemelrand valley on Sunday, he rose like Lazarus from his sickbed to bring us a bottle of Cartology 2011, an oxidative style chenin made from grapes grown on bush vines in multiple appellations including the Swartland, Stellenbosch and Skurfberg. And that’s just the S’s, Dr. Seuss!
A ninety minute drive from maritime Bot River to continental Robertson this morning with snow on the peaks above Villiersdorp. Robertson boasts its own natural air conditioner that sucks ocean cooled air up a funnel created by the Langeberg and Riviersonderend mountains and for the first time this afternoon, I wished someone would switch it off.
Huge terroir differences translate to huge taste differences between maritime and continental wines. Lower acidities and higher alcohols lead to oily textures and fatter palate weight. Burgundy is the quintessential continental appellation, so what a pleasure to find two Pinot Noirs awarded three hearts – our top score. Like Michelin and the Holy Trinity, we count up to three. But the really good news is that one wine was priced at R55 retail and the other at R90. Amazing the Pinot Noir value you unearth when you can’t see the label. But it was Castle Draught for my ribs and calamari at Bourbon Street this lunchtime with Elizma Spangenberg and Anibal, below.
142 wines down with about the same number again tomorrow. Some wonderful MCCs and Chardonnays already nailed with the serious reds on Tuesday.
The 72 wines of the Hemel & Aarde appellation tasted this morning were more heaven than earth, although that point made, we did encounter three examples of Portuguese terroir in the form of cork taint. Although with zero corks on Friday and Saturday, the odds are shortening rapidly to 3/400. A far cry from the 10% of days recently passed. But as one door closes, another opens and Brett comes to the fore in wines suddenly super clean.