Double-Blind Bordeaux Blend Wine Cellar Workshop Taste-Off!
Our Wine Cellar Workshops are really gaining moment and favour; the Chardonnay results lead to the sales of the remaining stock of the winning wine, Tokara Walker Bay 2009!
At these evenings we taste a line-up of what we consider the best wines in each category. So far we have had great results with Chardonnay, Shiraz, Chenin and Pinot Noir. We always add an international wine to mix it up and this is the first time the Frenchie was not one of the most favoured!
Each wine is decanted into one of the other bottles, so each taster knows the line-up but not the order. In this way you can try and spot each wine and get mightily confused! We taste each wine individually and discussed them at length. The order was only revealed (to everyone, even the Wine Cellar team) at the end of the tasting once the voting for each taster’s favourite has been done. Complicated, but a great way to taste and discuss.
The tasting? As always it was an interesting tasting with plenty debate; mainly over the use of new oak and the inherent greenness in a few of the examples. Alcohols were mostly in-check and the fruit spectrum seemed more towards the red, rather than black and porty (which has been an issue in the past). The use of new, overtly smoky, charry or coffee oak is a real concern for a few of the wines; we felt a young wine showing these characters will unlikely age well and will never integrate. The harsh oak also affects the fineness of the tannin and fruit complexity. The ‘green’ characters it must also be decided, are either unattractive or attractive. The unattractive notes often leads to a lack of balance and sourness. The positive nuances lean closer to dried herbs and tea-leaf, leading to more complexity and fineness. We felt there was certainly a better handling of all these issues from a decade ago. The best examples and especially the 2009 vintage will give great rewards further down the line.
1st – Morgenster 2009 – R306
A clear favourite of the evening, this wine seemed the most complete and refined of the line-up. It also shows the wonderful clarity and depth of the amazing 2009 vintage. It is sumptuous, fine and glossy without being over-the-top or overt. Lovely balance of dry tannins and rich fruit with an elegant finish. This is a great wine that shows good terroir and fine winemaking. It will also age well for a decade or more. 18/20
2nd – Rustenburg John X Merriman 2009 – R168
One of the biggest wines in the line-up, it definitely unleashes its authority and confidence. Plush, fruity and rich in a brooding style. Inky black complexity and grippy structure, this is opulent and yet classy. What is not to like? It has all the stuffing required for aging and seems a bargain for the price. 17.5/20
2nd – Buitenverwachting Christine 2008 – R270
Wow, we all thought this was the Bordeaux. Again and again, the Christine is probably the most Bordeaux-like of any SA wine. There is a definite ‘pong’ which blew off to tabacco, spice and tea leaf. Red fruits, savoury notes and classy dry tannins bring up the rear. Long and lacy. A contrasting style to the John X, but just as well liked. This will too age well. 17.5/20
4th Reyneke Cornerstone 2010 – R98
Nice earthy slant with touches of garrigue and orginanum. One of the most savoury of the line-up. Very young and taught with a salty edge. Quite Bordeaux like, but not quite as fine. Fun, exotic and good. This was a huge surprise and is a real bargain for under R100! 17.5/20
5th Thelema Rabelias 2008 – R364
One of the few wines with a slightly herbaceous edge, but not unattractive. Perhaps the most typically ‘South African’ of the lineup with chocolate, smokey and mint notes. Very big and rich with a high alcohol and dry tannins. A crowd pleaser. 16/20
Hillcrest Hornfels 2009 – R276
One of the most charactered wines of the evening. The notes of bell-pepper and red fruits suggest a high percentage of cabernet franc and perhaps a cooler region. Very sexy, chocolate and fine yet rich tannins. Layered and complex. Good wine.
Meerlust Rubicon 2007 – R286
Typical leafy nose with sweet/sour fruits. Quite earthy, floral and layered in a really elegant, lean, traditional style. Quite finely tuned, but somewhat short on the finish. This should age well.
Vilfonte Series C 2009 – R385
The nose was the most exotic and ‘sweet’ of the tasting. There are some creamy vanilla characters and rich red berry fruit. It didn’t have the grip and composure we were expecting and perhaps it was just the bottle that didn’t show well.
Keets First Verse 2009 – R286
Slight vegatel notes slowly dissipate from the glass opening to cassis and spice. Lean and earthy, not quite as confident and powerful as the rest in the line-up. Firm, but slightly rustic, perhaps its needs more time to knit as it does show promise. This is the first vintage from Chris Keet of Cordoba fame and we know how long and well those have aged!
Chateau St Pierre, St Julien 2008 – R600
This wine was the most oaky and smoky of the line-up. Very ripe and charry with with dry tannins and a hard finish. Very surprising with a 92/100 from Parker. Perhaps its just far too young and all the oak will integrate?
Order these wines from Tessa@winecellar.co.za or 021 448 4105
Notes by Roland Peens