Over the weekend, while wandering through Coolidge Corner, I stopped at Best Cellars, a small chain wine store. They carry only about 100 different wines, most costing $15 and under. They also classify their wines based on taste and style, rather grape or place of origin. They divide their wines into eight categories, including Fizzy, Fresh, Soft, Luscious, Juicy, Smooth, Big and Sweet. This seems directed more to people who don't know a lot about fun, to make it easier to find wines in a style they prefer. I think such a system does have some value, especially if it can get people to try new wines.
I think they have a decent selection of wines, and I sometimes find some good buys there. On this trip, one of my finds was the 2005 Stormhoek Pinotage ($14) from South Africa. I love Pinotage so wanted to try this, especially as I knew the Stormhoek name yet had never tried one of their wines before. Stormhoek got a lot of publicity from its blogging, certainly an admirable achievement.
The Stormhoek Winery is located in the Western Cape of South Africa. It was started by an international team of wine consultants, writers, and oenologists seeking to produce wines of the highest standard. They want to produce fresh wine and each bottle possesses on its label, an “Ultimate Freshness" indicator. The indicator tells you when the wine will be the freshest, which years you should drink the wine. The 2005 Pinotage is best through 2008 so I should not wait too long to drink this wine. The bottle also has a screw cap closure, which they feel is the best seal for wines that need to stay fresh and bright.
I brought this wine to a Father's Day BBQ and it was a big hit. The wine has a dark red color and an intriguing nose of black cherry and ripe plum. On the palate, you are rewarded with lush fruit flavors, vibrant black cherry, blueberry and blackberry as well as a bit of smoke and spice. It is very smooth and easy drinking. It made for an excellent BBQ wine, and I would have enjoyed it alone as well. It lacks any of the earthy smells or tastes that are sometimes associates with Pinotage. So it will appeal to a wide audience, including people who claim they dislike Pinotage.
I suggest serving this wine without letting the guests see the bottle. I bet many of them will enjoy it, even if they generally do not like Pinotage. This is an excellent value and I look forward to trying future vintages of their Pinotage, as well as some of the other Stormhoek wines.