Thursday, 29 May 2014

Should I pay attention to the OMTWS?

On Wednesday the 2014 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show (OMTWS) results were released, and I found myself to be quite perplexed at what I saw when making my way through them. I think what probably set me off was the fact that all of the wines entered by Cederberg Private Cellar were to be found in the Bronze category. The more I paged through the Bronze winners, the more dumbfounded I became. The shear amount of high quality wines deemed to be worthy of only Bronze is quite worrying. So I took 10 wines (8 Bonze winners and 2 Silver winners) and compared the OMTWS ratings to a few other ratings and this is what I found…

The OMTWS categories are as follow:
Gold = 90 points and over (superlative, world class)
Silver = 80 to 89 points (excellent, wine of distinction)
Bronze = 70 to 79 points (good to very good)
(This information along with anything you want to know about the competition or the judges can be found at
Sijnn Red 2010

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Wine Spectator: 93 points
Christian Eedes: 90 points
Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2010

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Robert Parker: 93 points
Christian Eedes: 92 points
Veritas Double Gold
Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Miguel Chan: 92 points
Rustenberg John X Merriman 2011

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Neal Martin (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate): 93 points
Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay 2010

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Received the International Chardonnay Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2012
Ernie Els Proprietor’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Veritas Double Gold
Warwick Trilogy 2006

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Wine Enthusiast: 91 points
Meerlust Rubicon 2005

Old Mutual Bronze: (70 to 79 points)
Wine Enthusiast: 91 points
Meerlust Rubicon 2009

Old Mutual Silver: (80 to 89 points)
Neal Martin (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate): 92 points
Beeslaar Pinotage 2012

Old Mutual Sliver: (80 to 89 points)
Christian Eedes: 94 points

Look, I know that people have different palates, but we are not talking about a couple of points here. The difference between a score in the 70’s and one in the 90’s is quite significant. To award the Eagles’ Nest 2010 Shiraz a Bronze really bamboozles me. It is arguably the best Shiraz in South Africa at the moment. The question that I am left with is should I even pay attention to the OMTWS, or do I turn a blind eye, pour myself another glass of wine and think happier thoughts?

Monday, 24 March 2014

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

It is such a pity that the average wine consumer in South Africa insists on drinking their Sauvignon Blanc as soon as it is released regardless of the quality of the wine. There are some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, white wines for that matter, that we are drinking far too young.

The Kleine Zalze 2010 Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is a prime example of such a wine. The grapes are selected from five different regions, with only the absolute best quality making the cut for the Family Reserve. On the nose I found tinned peas, tinned asparagus, just a hint of Cape gooseberries. The palate has a beautiful salty minerality, combined with green figs, and a solid acidity which ensures that wine is not flabby at all. This is truly one of the best South African Sauvignon Blancs I have had in a while. It shows some of the qualities you would expect from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It truly is a remarkable wine, and if anything this wine is still not at its optimal drinking window.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Jordon 2009 Chardonnay

With White Bordeaux blends you have Duncan Savage. When it comes to Pinotage you have Abrie Beeslaar. When I think of Shiraz it has to be Jacques Borman. And when it comes to Chardonnay there can only be one... Gary Jordan. His track record speaks for itself, which is why I was very excited to find a lonely bottle of the Jordan 2009 Chardonnay hiding on the shelf of the Tops near my house. Needless to say I immediately bought it to try the evening.

It’s weird, but when someone does something absolutely brilliant, for many of us our first reaction is to laugh. And it is the same with this wine. As soon as I brought the glass to my nose I couldn’t help but laugh. Roasted coconut, cooked pears and baked apples on the nose. A hint of pineapple on the palate, citrus fruit and beautifully integrated oak gives you a big, round palate, and with the acidity still in place this wine could easily age another couple of years. I bought it for R110, and I think it is an absolute steal! Another great wine by the master of Chardonnay.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Botanica 2011 Chenin Blanc

Why is it that some music is just better than the rest in a specific genre? I am currently listening to some blues, and the fact of the matter is that Muddy Waters, Clapton, and BB King are just a cut above the rest. And it doesn’t matter if another musician is technically just as good as the above mentioned Bluesmen, but the music they produce is for some reason just not a thing of legends.

I feel the same way about wine; some are just better than others, and that will always be the case. It is still very early to start labelling the Bonatica Chenin Blanc as a legendary wine, but the signs are there to suggest that this might just become one of those wines. The 2011 vintage shows tropical and citrus notes, with pineapple, peach and apricot to be found on the nose. The palate is full and complex with great oak integration (50% of the wine was matured in 400 liter barrels for 9 months). Hints of marzipan, citrus, and minerality on the palate will keep you sipping away all night long. A good acidity adds structure to the wine and will ensure that it ages for some time to come. It retails for about R140 per bottle. It is a massively good wine, and might just be a legend of Chenin Blanc in time to come.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Alexander Fontein Chip Off The Old Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013

I don’t know if you have listened to the new U2 single recorded for the Madiba movie yet, but it is once again a great song! That’s the thing with U2; album after album they produce music of the highest quality. It might differ in style a bit from album to album, but you know it will be good.

That’s a bit how I feel about the higher end Sauvignon Blancs from Alexander Fontein. The Chip off the old Block Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is one of these, affirming their status as one of the best Sauvignon Blanc producers with this wine named in the FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blancs of 2013. The nose is generous with gooseberries, granadilla, and ripe figs the prominent flavours. The fruit continues on the palate and is complimented by a soft minerality, good acidity which is beautifully balanced, and a very long finish. It is a great wine, and when you consider the price (it sells for about R70 per bottle) it gets even better! This is one of the Sauvignon Blancs to stock up on for those really hot days ahead in the summer.

Score: 17

Monday, 11 November 2013

Stellenrust 48 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2012

Why is it that when someone does something brilliant your first inclination is to laugh? John Mayer was talking in an interview about one of the John Mayer Trio songs a few years back, and he was commenting on their approach to covering a Hendrix song. They just starting jamming it, and suddenly Steve Jordan (the drummer) started playing this insane beat, and all John Mayer and Pino Palladino (the bassist) could do was laugh. Laugher is the awkward reaction to something so brilliant that we don’t know what else to do!

That was my reaction upon tasting the 48 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2012 by Stellenrust. This wine is fast becoming one of the iconic Chenin’s in South Africa, performing brilliantly year in and out, as portrayed in this specific vintage by winning the IWSC Chenin Trophy. On the nose there are under ripe pineapple, wet hay, wet wool, and hints of pear. On the palate the fruit shines through beautifully with ripe pear and soft pineapple flavours combining perfectly with touches of vanilla, giving it a fatty palate which I just love. The use of oak on this wine, together with a good acidity, ensures that ageing will not be a problem for this wine. It cost R115 per bottle, so go and buy this by the case for one bottle will not be enough! It is much like Hendrix in that if you start listening you want to put the album on repeat and just keep the magic flowing!

Score: 17.5

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Alexander Fontein Sauvignon Blanc 2013

There is nothing better than a quaffer of a Sauvignon Blanc to get you through those hot summer days, and for the last couple of years that wine has been the Alexander Fontein Sauvignon Blanc. So I thought I’d give the new vintage (2013) a try. It retails for around R50 a bottle – depending on where you buy it – and to place the cherry on top of an already tasty cake, it won gold at the recent Veritas awards.

On the nose you find gooseberries, green figs, and just a hint of minerality. The palate is in the same vein with the gooseberries shining through, accompanied by notes of passion fruit and subtle asparagus. The acidity on this wine is very high, and normally I love that in a Sauvignon Blanc, but in this one it is so high that it bothered even me a bit. It just threw the balance of the wine completely off. I even struggled to finish my second glass, and that is a pity, because it ruins what otherwise is a good wine. So for the same price I would rather buy the more balanced Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc to have my back this summer…

Score: 15