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Sunday, July 26, 2015


(Michael Green)

Vinimark is South Africa’s largest independent wine wholesale company (it is based in Stellenbosch), and every year it gives a display of its clients’ products in the country’s major cities.
This year’s Vinimark Wine Worx wine trade fair, as it is called, marks the company’s 30th anniversary, and in Durban members of the wine trade and the media were invited to a tasting at the Hilton Hotel.
It was an opulent presentation of about 250 local wines and some imported champagnes.
My personal policy for an event of this scale is, first, caution, tiny sips of a few wines, bearing in mind the drive home; second, experimenting, sampling wines that one has never tasted before or maybe never heard of.
Here are brief descriptions of some of the wines that my wife and I sipped and sniffed appreciatively, with approximate retail prices. The catalogue for the tasting gave trade prices, including VAT, and I understand that one should add a 20 to 30 per cent mark-up for the retail prices (the profit percentage is generally less in big liquor supermarkets than in smaller specialist wine shops).
De Krans chenin blanc 2015. This attractive, fruity wine comes from a cellar at Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo, about 400 kilometres east of Cape Town, an area best known for its port wines. This chenin blanc has tropical fruit flavours and a hint of honey in the bouquet. Quite high alcohol content, 13,8 percent. And good value at about R55 a bottle in the shops.
Neil Ellis Groenekloof sauvignon blanc 2015. A splendid dry white from one of the Cape’s most distinguished winemakers. Neil Ellis has been at the job for the past 40 years and his cellar at Stellenbosch produces a wide range of highly rated wines. This sauvignon blanc is made from grapes from low yield, high quality vineyards in the Darling area, north of Cape Town. The wine is elegant and quite herbaceous, alcohol 13,5 percent. Price: about R85.
Robertson Constitution Road shiraz 2012. The Robertson Winery, 150 kilometres east of Cape Town, is one of the big producers in the Western Cape and it is known for its many inexpensive, good quality wines. This shiraz, however, is far from inexpensive. It is the winery’s flagship, and it retails at about R150 a bottle. It is a grand wine, deep purple colour, plum and berry flavours, 14,6 percent alcohol.
Overgaauw merlot 2013. From a Stellenbosch farm that is more than a hundred years old and was the first South African estate to bottle merlot wines, in 1982. This 2013 vintage is excellent, spicy and fragrant, hints of cherry and chocolate. Alcohol: 14 percent. Price: about R115.
Krone Borealis Cuvée Brut 2014. From the Twee Jonge Gezellen estate at Tulbagh, which was owned by the Krone family for 200 years and was bought in 2012 by Vinimark. Krone, as it is now called, was a pioneer of Methode Cap Classique (champagne method) wines in South Africa. Over the years it has established a reputation for consistently high quality, and that tradition is maintained in this first-class dry sparkling wine, a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir (a pity that, because of international regulations, we can’t call it Cape champagne, for that is what it is). Alcohol: 12 percent. Price: about R105. – Michael Green