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Thursday, October 8, 2009


Annual travelling trade fair of Vinimark visited Durban recently with tasting of about 300 different wines from 48 cellars.

The annual travelling trade fair of the Vinimark wine marketing organisation visited Durban recently and presented a tasting of about 300 different wines from 48 cellars represented by Vinimark. The wines were available for tasting at the International Convention Centre for four hours, from 16h30 to 20h00 and, predictably, it was attended by a large number of people involved in the liquor trade.

On an occasion such as this it is best to taste with very small sips, and I personally prefer to taste wines with which I am not familiar, rather than the old favourites. Here is my list of wines tasted, with brief comments:

Fryer’s Cove Bamboesbay sauvignon blanc. Never heard of this cellar? Neither had I. Fryer’s Cove Vineyards, established in 1999, is on the Atlantic coast 350 kilometres north of Cape Town. Richard Fryer was an immigrant from Britain who was the first commercial farmer in these parts and became known for his good works, including opening a school for children in the area (the nearest town of any size is Vredendal). The Fryers Cove viticulturist, Jan van Zyl, explained with great enthusiasm at the Vinimark tasting that the sea air of this area has an influence on the vines and the grapes, and that the wines “go wonderfully well with snoek and crayfish”. This sauvignon blanc is outstanding, as it should be at a cellar price of about R100 bottle. Fryers Cove phone number is 027 213 2312.

Bellevue Estate Morkel sauvignon blanc, from Stellenbosch. Named after the owner, Dirkie Morkel. I thought this was very good. Quite sharp on the palate but plenty of fruit in the background. Would go well with food. Trade pride is R44 a bottle, so I suppose the retail price would be about R55 or R60. Bellevue phone: 021 865 2055.

Hidden Valley sauvignon blanc. Stellenbosch, also named after the winery’s owner, Dave Hidden. A fine and typical example of sauvignon, green fig, gooseberry and tropical fruit characteristics. Retail price about R65. Phone 021 880 2646.

Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2005. A better known name, this, from Paarl. This Grand Classique is a Bordeaux blend red, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot. The grand name is well merited. A beautiful wine, dark, smooth, ripe berries and a full aroma. The price: about R110. Phone 021 875 5528.

Twee Jonge Gezellen TJ Light, from a well-known and long-established estate at Tulbagh. Low alcohol wines are obviously healthier than more full-bodied types but most of them seem to lack flavour. This white wine is an exception. It is only 8,5 percent alcohol, not much more than half the strength of many other wines, better for the body and better for the mind, especially if you’re driving. In spite of the low alcohol it is a lively wine with some character, just off-dry, citrus flavours. About R27 a bottle. Phone 023 230 0680.

In general, the wines presented at the tasting seemed to be of consistently high quality, a pleasant rebuttal of recent criticism in an American magazine --- unfair, in my view --- about the standard of South African wines. – Michael Green