Tag Archives: red wine

Anura Petit Verdot 2010


The Headlines: //
Ok, so you decide to buy the roll of blackcurrant fruit pastilles, right? Rather than the mixed bag. Because Blackcurrant are the best. Then you discover that when EVERYTHING is blackcurrant, blackcurrant doesn’t seem so special. You realise that one needs all the other duds to make BC feel like the rare reward that it is. So it is with this wine
TN: Lots and lots of soft black fruit. But unfortunately not much of anything else.
Aromas of violets, gentle hints of oak & some savoury fresh leather.
Sure, the palate is packed full of soft plums, cassis & blueberries, but without the necessary acidity or structure (where are those PV tannins?) it all borders on being a little flabby (not that I judge, being a little flabby myself).

Quality: 14/20 //
Price: R120 //
Value: 3/5 //
Ponce factor: medium-low//
Occasion: Lazy Sunday with lamb on the spit //
Key words: flabby, temperature//
Vivino rating //

Feeling flabby? Chill out, and everything will be fine

LIFE HACK ALERT. Just because you open a wine and find it to be kinda flat, sweet, overly fruity, and lacking in structure, that doesn’t mean that all is lost, and you should resort to adlibbing renditions of cousin Thelma’s strawberry daiquiri recipe. There are ways to improve a wine that may pack plenty of fruit, but seems to lack those little elements we fondly refer to as “structure”and “acidity”.

Hot and Heavy

(**This is where a wine thermometer comes in handy)

Let’s just say it is a warm summer’s evening, and you’re barbecuing a fat, juicy piece of Sirloin, which would ordinarily be perfectly paired with a brawny, concentrated, but prominently tannic Petit Verdot. Unfortunately for you, you discover that your PV of choice (hypothetically, the Anura Petit Verdot 2010) is (yay, verily) undeniably fruity, but also softer than a Bieber album and packing less punch than Pacquiao when he’s on a liquids-only diet.

What is key here is to bear in mind that the warm summer’s evening may have gone someway to increasing the temperature of your wine, perhaps shifting its temperature up into the low 20-23 degree Celsius mark. This lowers your ability to perceive tannins and acidity, but increases you ability to perceive sweetness (ever increasing as it approaches body temperature). The result can be a wine flabbier than John Goodman after Thanksgiving dinner.

So..what to do?

By putting your brawny, concentrated petit verdot into the fridge for an hour (or the freezer for half an hour) you’ll shave four or five degrees off that beast’s serving temperature and completely transform how she performs in the glass.

Acidity (and any tannins that may be present) will be bolstered quite significantly by the decrease in serving temperature, allowing those previously nominal elements to actually pull their weight and better balance the superbly dense black fruit offered by the PV of choice.

All of a sudden, a second glass of the stuff doesn’t feel so bad.

Conversely, should you find yourself pulling the cork on a rather tannic and austere wine, you can apply this theory in reverse.

Rather than blocking your nose, lining your mouth with lamb fat, and chugging that bad boy like it’s O-week, try putting the bottle in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes. Warming it up a few degrees can (on occasions) bring out some sorely needed fruit elements and soften the tannic nature of the beast you’ve chosen to serve.

You’re welcome.

Groot Constantia Pinotage 2013

TLDR: A must-try for those who think Pinotage can’t be elegant//
Quality: 15/20//
Price: R175 (as of Sept 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: Moderate to high //
Occasion: Fireside winter comfort//
Key words: SA Top 100, ABSA Top Ten//
Vivino rating //

Tasting notes:

Top of the table during a blind tasting of some of the ABSA Top Ten Pinotages.
Colour is a deep dense purple with vanguard aromas of salty dried beef and coriander spices.
The palate leaves the savory notes behind, exploding with superbly concentrated sweet ripe black cherry fruit. Acidity is very high, but well integrated. A perfect foil to the fruity sweetness. The tail lingers with continued ripe black fruit notes, &some gentle but persistent spice adds the required complexity for a Top100 wine.

To fill those awkward silences…

Not all that glitters is gold…
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some utility out of the myriad stickers you see on every second bottle on the shelf. As I’ve said elsewhere, some stickers will at best ruin an otherwise tastefully designed wine label, and at worst will lead you to part with your precious sovereigns chasing the glory of an award that guarantees no elevation of quality whatsoever!

SECRET WINE RULE: If the sticker bears the logo of a bank, asset management firm, or insurance brokerage, then it usually carries a little more weight than most.

For whatever reason, the financial services sector has decided that it need to keep the wine calendar packed choc-a-block with various wine awards and ceremonies. Whether the cost of sponsoring these events actually adds any value back into said financial services sector, we’ll never know. But what we can say is that these neat little Top10 lists are quite a manageable way to explore a particular variety, and get to know what some of the more acclaimed producers are doing with the grape that has caught your fancy.

Here are just a few lists for you to peruse:
The ABSA Top Ten Pinotage Awards
The Standard Bank Top Ten Chenin Blanc Awards
The Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report
The FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blanc Awards

What is the SA Top 100?

The National Wine Challenge (NWC) describes itself as “the Wine Olympics of South Africa” (though it has yet to launch the Wine Paralympics). It has been running for six years now, awarding T100 status to the highest scoring 100 wines entered into the competition. While there are always going to be a couple of duds in a list of this size, the T100 brand is a superb way to get a foothold in the positively gargantuan SA wine industry.

Most usefully, the NWC has also developed a smartphone app, for both iOS and Android, that lists winners for the past three years, dividing winners into red wines, white wines, and bubbly.  After Vivino, this is probably the most useful wine app that a South African could possibly have on their phone.
(Do not say “wine-searcher”. If you say “wine searcher”, I follow in the footsteps of the great Dane Cook, and I will stab you in the jaw. Wine Searcher sucks).

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.