I am back with more reviews of some of my favorite wines of the Boston Wine Expo. This year, I spent some time tasting through numerous South African wines, which have long pleased my palate, including the much maligned Pinotage grape. South Africa is now producing plenty of delicious wines, especially those made from Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Pinotage. It is a region I want to visit one day soon, to learn more about it as well as to experience its beauty and wonders. For now, I must be satisfied with drinking their fine wines. So here are my favorites of those I tasted.
Beyerskloof Chenin Blanc/Pinotage (about $10). It is a blend of 75% Chenin and 25% Pinotage, and this is the first time I have ever seen such a blend. Together, they make a compelling wine, with lots of tropical fruit, including pineapple, as well as strawberry flavors. There were underlying floral notes with hints of herbs, together with nice acidity. It was very easy drinking, and certainly provided a unique flavor profile for a white wine. At this price, it is a killer value, though unfortunately it is not yet available in MA though they were seeking a distributor at the Expo. This wine would sell well and I hope a distributor takes the chance on picking it up.
The 2009 Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraal Pinotage/Merlot is a blend of 70% Pinotage and 30% Merlot, which was aged in French and American oak for about six months. It presents as dark, spicy and smoky, though still smooth with rich black fruit flavors. When you taste it, bacon comes immediately to mind. This is an ideal BBQ or hearty pasta wine and a definite recommendation.
Fairview produces plenty of good wines, including many value wines, and the 2008 La Capra Pinotage (about $10) is one of those values. Lots of plum, black cherry and blackberry flavors with loads of spiciness. An easy drinking wine with smooth tannins which would be a good wine for pizza, burgers or BBQ.
Delheim Pinotage Rose is a blend of 94% Pinotage & 6% Muscat de Frontignan and it mesmerized me with its bright red fruit nose. The taste was bursting with strawberry, bright cherry and watermelon yet it was more of a dry wine than a sweeter California style. Plenty of acidity and a satisfying finish contribute to a delicious wine. I drink Rose all year round though this would be especially delicious once summer arrives.
The 2010 Boland Cellar Cappupinoccinotage is a mouthful of a name with an intriguing concept. There is a Coffee Pinotage style, that emphasizes that flavor but Boland wanted to make a more subtle wine, with nice fruit flavors but still retaining some of the mocha and coffee elements. I think they succeeded as the spicy and smoky elements predominated and the mocha and coffee flavors were far more subdued, accenting without overwhelming. Blackfruit flavors permeated the wine and there was also that familiar bacon taste. A moderately long finished helped to indicate its complexity. A very interesting choice.
Tamboerskloof Syrah (about $25) is produced by the Kleinood Winery ("Kleinood" being an Afrikaans word for "something small and precious"). It is a small winery, with only ten hectares of vineyards. This wine is made from 100% Syrah and seemed a little tight, as if it needed more time in the bottle. But you can tell it is a big wine, a complex blend of dark spice, black fruits and leather. It has a very lengthy finish, a nice structure, and over delivers for this price point. I would love to see how this wine develops in a couple years and I expect it will only become better and better.
Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal (about $45) which the winery describes as a “super tusker blend.” This wine is a unique blend of 50% Sangiovese, 22% Pinot Noir, 13% Nebbiolo, 7% Mourvedre, 6% Barbera and 2% Shiraz. This was a very aromatic wine, with intriguing herbal smells. On the palate, it had a very unique character, a melange of red fruits, mild spices, herbal notes and hints of earthiness. Complex, a lengthy finish and well balanced. A very satisfying wine, this would be best with food and it should age well too. I really loved its unusual nature and highly recommend it.
The name of this wine, the 2008 Post House Missing Virgin (about $28), has a fascinating story. It refers to a printing error on a Virgin Island stamp where the virgin was omitted. This virgin was St. Ursula, who lived between the third and fifth centuries A.D., and is thought to have been martyred for her faith with 10,000 virgin companions at Cologne, Germany. In her honor, Christopher Columbus gave her name to the Virgin Islands. The wine is a blend of Pinotage and Petit Verdot, and is dark and smoky with a strong vein of blueberry flavor. It is not overly tannic and has a long and pleasing finish. Another winning wine which really appealed to me.
The Non-vintage Star Tree Brut Sparkling Chenin Blanc (about $10) is a dry and fruity sparkler with a smooth, pleasant taste. It is a simple but delicious wine and a very good choice at this price point.
What South African wines have you enjoyed lately?