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Monday, March 18, 2013


Six rather unusual white wines were offered when our private tasting group met at my house recently.  The wines were from Argentina, New Zealand, the Western Cape (two) and the only wine estate in KwaZulu-Natal (two).

The tasting was, as usual, blind. The tasters were given descriptions of the wines, but they did not know the order in which they were served.

Identification proved difficult. Our tasters are all experienced wine people with good palates, but I don’t think anybody identified correctly more than two of the six wines.

The scoring (done before the identity of the wines was revealed) was interesting. It was very close; five of the wines scored between 16 and 17 points out of 20. And top score, against strong competition, went to one of our own KZN wines, the Abingdon Sauvignon Blanc 2012, from Lions River, in the Midlands.

The Abingdon estate, which is at an altitude of 1,100 metres, was established ten years ago on a farm named after a town in England. This sauvignon blanc has a powerful bouquet and a strong mineral flavour, with little of the gooseberry/asparagus character of many sauvignon blancs. It has been compared favourably with a good Sancerre from the Loire valley in France. Price from the farm: R130 a bottle.

Second in our judgment came the Diamond Ridge Chardonnay 2011, from Wairarapa in the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand. This delightful wine had aromas of peach and melon and stone fruits on the palate. Price in Durban: R75.

Third was one of the Cape’s classics, the Mulderbosch Chardonnay 2011 from Stellenbosch. This had citrus and vanilla aromas and plenty of rich fruit on the palate. The estate says it should keep until at least 2016. Price: R90.

The other wines tasted were: Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Stellenbosch, fruity and fresh, crisp and zingy, R75; Abingdon Viognier/Chardonay 2012 from Lions River, a big powerful wine with a slightly floral aroma and a steely undertaste, R130; and MV Mendoza Vineyards Chardonnay 2011, from Mendoza, the main wine area of Argentina, in the west of the country, in the foothills of the snow-capped Andes, this wine a crisp, new style of chardonnay, R45.

In keeping with modern trends, all these wines had an alcohol content of 13 or 13,5 percent. Gone are the days when white wines were regarded as safe, light drinks. – Michael Green