Call me skeptical, but when I saw the table for Bob's African Wines at the Boston Wine Expo, I was not sure what to think. Bob's? They couldn't think of a better name than that? And who was Bob? Was he someone famous that I should know? More importantly, were his wines any good?
Bob is Bob Lynde, an Oregon-based entrepreneur who co-founded Fat Barrel Wine Company with Jessica Harrington in February 2007. Though they wanted to sell wine, they also had a passion for philanthropy. Thus, they launched Bob's African Wines, which are supposed to be value wines from South Africa. As part of the philanthropy, 10% of their import sales benefit nonprofit international aid to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. The company also funds a scholarship program for a U.S. volunteer aid worker in South Africa.
I now understood who Bob was and the intent behind the company. The basic idea appeals to me as I love South African wines, and it is always good to find value wines. Plus, the company is contributing to a worthy cause. But what were the wines like?
The Bob's African Wines currently include a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blnac, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet/Shiraz blend. These wines generally sell for about $10-$12. I tasted two of their wines, the 2009 Chenin Blanc and the 2008 Pinotage. I should note that neither of these wines are yet on their website. Maybe the vintages are too new.
The 2009 Chenin Blanc had a bright golden color and was very aromatic, lots of tropical fruit smells. On the palate, it was bright and crisp, with flavors of melon, grapefruit and touches of herbal notes. Though dry, it had an almost touch of sweetness, a bit more than most other Chenins I have tasted. It was quite delicious, and would be perfect for a warm summer day, or paired with a light chicken or fish dish. A very good value wine.
The 2008 Pinotage was a very fruit forward wine, an easy-drinking delight which should appeal even to those who claim to dislike Pinotage. The fruit flavors, black cherry, raspberry and plum, are accompanied by hints of spice that elevate this wine above other simple wines. This would be an excellent wines for pizza, burgers or BBQ.
So, if you are seeking a value South African wine, then I suggest checking out Bob's African Wines. And you will be contributing to a good cause as well.