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Friday, September 23, 2011


The Vinimark wine wholesale organisation held its annual trade fair in Durban recently, with the products of 38 Western Cape cellars on display for tasting and assessment by retailers and other interested persons.

About 200 wines were on show, and obviously one’s tasting had to be selective and cautious; even small sips add up in the end.

I tried to sample mainly wines that I had not experienced before, and the results were gratifying, to say the least. These days the wines of the Cape are generally of high quality and should, I think, be able to hold their own with those from most other parts of the world.

The price list supplied at the tasting consisted entirely of wholesale trade prices, and I have tried to give rough estimates of what I think retail prices would be after mark-ups of about 30 percent (profit margins can vary considerably, of course, from one shop to another).

Here are two of the better known names: Morgenhof chenin blanc 2010, from Stellenbosch – lovely peachy, creamy, silky wine, but expensive at about R85 a bottle (one for the special occasion) and Porcupine Ridge sauvignon blanc 2011, from Boekenhoutskloof at Franschhoek – plenty of the gooseberry flavour typical of this cultivar, about R45.

And here are some that were new to me: Leeuwenkuil Family Reserve White 2011, from the Agter Paarl area, between Paarl and Malmesbury – a very unusual blend of chenin blanc, roussanne, grenache blanc, clairette blanche, verdelho and marsanne, a big, powerful, fruity and delicious white wine, about R55. Roussanne and marsanne are grapes originally from the Rhone region of France.

Shannon Sanctuary Peak sauvignon blanc 2010, from Elgin – a subtle, aromatic wine, outstanding, about R100 and Fort Simon pinotage 2008, from Stellenbosch - dark red, berry, cherry flavours, full-bodied, about R80.

And, from the well-known Robertson Winery, two low alcohol wines that, unlike most of their kind, have real flavour and style – Robertson Extra Light Sauvignon Blanc 2011, crisp, pleasant, 9 percent alcohol, about R36, and Robertson Extra Light Merlot 2011, plum and mulberry flavours, 9,5 percent alcohol, about R46.

Caution is or should be the keynote when drinking these days, and Robertson have performed a service in producing these light wines that don’t taste as if they had been watered down. – Michael Green