Tag Archives: 2014

Bloemendal Suider Terras 2014 wooded Sauvignon Blanc

The Headlines: //
“More complex than the American electoral system.
Vanguard aromas carry fresh grass and green pepper up front, followed by slow-attack asparagus, and an intriguing somewhat darker, nigh-on clovesy spice note at the back. Lovely evolution. Definitely not easy drinking, but marvelous intellectual value. 
Oaked for 8 months. 50% new oak barrels.”

Quality: 16/20//
Price: R250 (as of November 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: High//
Occasion: A Summer gathering of the ponce club. On the terrace//
Key words: oak, sensory evolution, trending//
Vivino rating //

 To fill those awkward silences…

It’s not mine, Guv’nor.

I love a bit of wood in my Chardonnay. So one can imagine my dismay when I got totally busted on my passé penchant by an undercover member of the wine fashion police, writing me a ticket for enjoying something as “pas cool” as a wooded chard. Now in hindsight, I should have mustered my finest Gandalf impression and said, “Madam, if you’re drinking wine to be on trend, then I’m afraid you have bigger problems than a few splinters in your Chablis.”
Instead, all I could muster was a weird sort-of half curtsy, followed by an awkward swallow and something about it not being mine. “oh, I’m just holding it for a friend.”

“a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script”

 Be cool. Sport wood.

Now, while the notion that quality can go out of style is sheer lunacy (and so a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script) there are those occasions where one doesn’t want to have to explain oneself.

Take James Dean, for instance. He’s dead, and so finds it almost impossible to explain himself. But he still needs to be cool, right? So what does he do? Well, he delivers a sure thing. He goes for that gray-scale image of him leaning against something. In his black t-shirt, smouldering. I mean he’s smouldering. Not his shirt. But whatever. The point is, it’s a sure thing. No one needs to have that explained to them. It just is.

So what if you have this crazy lust for lumber in your wine, but still need to serve “a sure thing”? Wooded Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what.

Hold the rocks

Sauvignon Blanc’s generally light body and (preferably) crisp, zingy acidity makes it the ideal summer quaffer. And hey, there’s no judgment here, so why not toss a few blocks of ice in there, too. And, hell, maybe a straw, if times are tough.
But when it comes to serving a wooded Sauvignon blanc, you may want to try a more restrained approach.
The touch of oak in these wines bulks up the mouthfeel somewhat, delivering a heavier presence on the palate. Also, it will almost certainly add more complexity than a schoolbus of adolescent netballers, so don’t be afraid to sit with it for a little while. Give it a chance to tell you a story.
A good rendition on this theme should be able to deliver (1) clearly articulated fruit (depending on ripeness levels these could range from lemons right through to sweet [each), (2) savoury and herbal complications (grass, nettles, asparagus, peppers), and of course (3) the oak influence, which can manifest as coconut, vanilla, dairy products, or sweet spice.

*If you’re looking to taste your wine a little more actively, an interesting exercise is to try and break down the notes that you’re tasting into those three categories.

Even The Pundits say so.

If after all this, you’re still feeling insecure, or you’re simply a chronic people pleaser, you can rest assured that at least three of the 2016 FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blancs were wooded (a significant portion, given that they are far rarer than their unwooded counterparts), and so if the big wigs say so, then who are your dinner guests to argue.
The FNB woody winners were:
1. Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015
2. Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2013
3. Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Another goodie worth finding is the Steenberg Rattlesnake. You shouldn’t pay more than R110 per bottle (November 2016)


AA Badenhorst Family Wines Red Blend 2014

The Headlines: //
Some estates harvest in strict accordance with the correct physiological ripeness. Maverick winemaker Adi Badenhorst prefers “psychological ripeness”; when the timing “just feels right”.
The result is a fresh, elegant Shiraz-fronted red blend with herbal and spice aromatics, fine grapeskin tannins, and exquisitely pronounced laser-like red fruit acidity. At its core, the wine holds juicy red cherries, currants, and red plum fruit, finished off with delicate hints of pepper & cloves. An exquisite example of just how elegant and refined a shiraz blend can be.

Quality: 17/20//
Price: R280 (as of October 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: Through the roof//
Occasion: Any time you’re on a date with a vegan//
Key words:  Swartland revolution, minimal intervention //
Vivino rating //

 To fill those awkward silences…

The man, the mystery, the boerewors

Adi Badenhorst is a visual mélange of Old Testament Abrahamic beardy majesty and a skater from Tableview. But one very soon realizes that his conflicting visual cues are simply a premonition of the multiple contradictions that this winemaking legend embodies. When speaking publically, he mixes his penchant for profanity with regular religious references (he makes wine that are like sermons – they “comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable”) and, most noticeably, he is relentlessly self-effacing, while clearly carrying the sort of charisma that has his audiences hanging on his every word. When asked what his wines pair well with, he replies, “Shit, I don’t know. But they taste bloody lekker with boerewors.”
It’s really hard not to like him.

Why Vegans love Adi:

Vegans are, by and large, pretty down on the human race. Humans are all idiots who messed up the planet. Humans drink milk, even though they are most certainly not baby cows. And humans think they’re clever but are almost always doing something that will inevitably lead to their extinction.

So… the big question is:

How does a man, who wakes up at 5am to eat boerewors with fellow Swartland legend Eben Sadie, make wines that are perfectly suited to impress a disdainful vegan? Well, quite simply, by embodying all of those elements into a wine that still manages to pair well with boerewors (just because she’s vegan, doesn’t mean you have to be):

  1. Adi acknowledges that people can be dumb:
    Adi harvests his grapes according to “psychological ripeness”. Instead of running around with a brix meter measuring sugar levels of various grape varieties, he prefers to simply pick a day when it “feels right” and then harvest his grapes. Why? Because the more that humans try fiddle around with a harvest, the greater the chances that they’ll mess it all up. As Porseleinberg’s Callie Louw likes to remind us, “your wine is just a measurement of how well you farmed”. So farm well, and then relax about what comes afterwards.
  2. Irrigation should not be a thing in the Swartland:
    Adi farms with utmost respect for his environment. Not only does he select grape varieties that grow well in the hot dry Swartland (his view is that varieties of Portuguese origin work wonderfully, by and large), but he also refuses to irrigate his vineyards. Why? Because water is scarce, and irrigating your grapes shows a distinct lack of respect for both water as a natural resource, and for certain grapes’ ability to thrive against the odds.
  3. There is always hope for humanity:
    In his own words, Adi was fired from making wine for the iconic Rustenburg Wine Estate for a combination of offenses that included using foul language and making a particularly dodgy rosé. But had that never happened, he wouldn’t have found the magical piece of Swartland land that is Kalmoesfontein – the home of all AA Badenhorst family wines.

So however disdainful one may be of the human race, one has to believe in second chances, and Kalmoesfontein, (and the wines that have brought Adi international acclaim and rave reviews from half of the world’s leading wine critics) is a tangible piece of evidence to support this. While vegans may exhibit a tough exterior, they really just hanker after genuine hope for the future of the planet, and Adi’s wines are a delightful combination of sensory bliss and ideological uncle banana which may or may not set you in good stead for a glorious evening of soul connection with any vegan worth his or her biodynamic salt.


Groote Post Merlot 2014

TLDR: Easier to drink than it is to like//
Quality: 12/20
Price: R115 (as of Sept 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: Moderate //
Occasion: Date night, or Sunday Roast lunch//
Key words:  Old Mutual Trophy, varietal characteristics//

Vivino rating //

Tasting notes:

I find it intriguing that Paul Giamatti is so much like a merlot. Short, rounded, a little soft…
It makes the Sideways experience one big episode of epicurean irony.
As for this Old Medal Trophy winner…
Colour may be a delightful dense and vibrant red, but after the promising visual cue, the rather closed nose was a disappointment. The palate was pleasantly clean, and suitably dry, with some prominent cherry fruit acidity, as well as a touch of eucalyptus. But the whole affair was over rather quickly, and didn’t try too hard to lure you back for a sequel.

As far as structure is concerned, tannins are characteristically soft, and mouthfeel is med(+), which I suppose is something of a saving grace.

To fill those awkward silences

Know your oats. Or grapes.
The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties are often blended together; have similar primary fruit flavours; are both are grown in pretty much every wine region in South Africa; both produce red wine; both are ubiquitous in South African bottle stores and grocery store wine aisles; and each one is often described in reference to the other (Merlot has been called “Cabernet without the pain”). But despite all this, it should be noted that the two red wines are still quite different in style. Here are just a few broad brushstrokes differences that may help you decide side of the fence your bread is buttered…so to speak:
Tannins – CS (especially the young ones) are often characterized by heavy mouth-sapping tannins, whereas merlot is most often far softer, and less imposing.
Body – Merlot grapes generally ripen earlier than CS, they are larger, have thinner skin, and they generally have a higher yield per hectare. This makes them no only a safer bet come harvest time, but the resulting wine is often just a little less intense, less concentrated…not as brawny as the later-ripening CS counterpart from the same vineyard.
Ageability – Merlots can seldom age past 10 years, and the warmer climate South African examples (like this one from the Western Cape’s Darling region) would being beating the odds by being drinkable at the 7 or 8 year-mark. CS in contrast regularly last up to 20 years or longer (again, with cooler climate wines showing a little more longevity).
Margin for error: The combination of CS’s generally higher tannin levels, heavier mouthfeel, and occasional lack of ripeness means that a poor choice on a Cab Sauv can be far more consequential than a dodgy pick from the merlot bin. If your date is not a wine fanatic, merlot will almost always be the softer, fruitier, safer bet.

Then again, “safe” is for bookkeepers and insurance salesman. You’re a Wild stallion. A frontiersman of the first order.

Sure, some cabs have ruined a few dream dates, and offended some important clients… but then no one ever pinned a medal of honor on a merlot-swilling diplomat, did they?

Decoding the Old Mutual Wine Awards:

All wines are tasted blind (IE judges have no idea what they are tasting) which gives rise to some glorious controversy. This year the most decorated wine at the competition was a R35.00 Secret Cellars No.235 Chenin Blanc from Ultra Liquors, which won awards for:
1. Best Cape Chenin Blanc
2. Highest scoring wine, as judged by the International judges panel
3. Best Discovery of the Show

So…if you are still reading, as opposed to being on your way to Ultra Liquors…

Here is a little statistical breakdown on the OMTWS medal system.

Trophy awards are only given to the best wines in their genre. Basically the highest scoring gold medal winner in its class. The Groote Post Darling Hills Merlot 204 featured here is one such trophy wine, being the top Merlot from the
Gold medals represent less than 4% of the playing field, which (statistically speaking) makes it quite an achievement. The wine must score more than 90 out of 100.
Silver medals scores 80-89 out of 100. This year there were 113 silver medal wines. Which puts a silver medalist in the top 15% of the field.
Bronze Medals: The 2016 awards featured 1067 wines were entered, of which over 500 of them received Old Mutual Bronze medals. So it is worth noting that a bronze medal means little more than it only just within the top half of entered wines.
It is little more than a “niece to know” and definitely shouldn’t convince you that you need to part with a few extra shekels just for the sticker.