Tuesday, October 9, 2007

South African Wines - Tasting Notes

Recently, I was at an industry tasting, specifically, the Winebow Vintner's Harvest 2007 held in New York City. The Harvest was like a coming out party for the new releases of many of the wineries and importers that Winebow (a wine and liquor distributor) represents. The tasting was set up with wines from different regions of the world staged together in areas....here's French wines, Here's California wines, Italians, Aussies and then the lesser known regions that produce wines.

Did you know: wine is produced on EVERY continent in the world, with the largest concentration of acres planted with wine grapes in Europe.

So Kevin and I stopped in at the South Africa table where we met Gary Jordan from Jordan Winery in Stellenbosch, SA. Gary is an immensely likable fellow, who loves his wines and is ea gar to introduce them to us. He tells us he has been in the wine business with his wife, Kathy since 1993. They are very dedicated to wine production and it shows! Gary's wines are marketed under the JARDIN label here in the US, with the usual lineup of Sauv. Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab Sauv and Merlot. You may not think that its a big deal to have all of these varietals under one label, but what you don't yet know is that across the board, their wines are exceptional, each varietal displaying the best characteristics of its grapes. The wines are subtle when appropriate and big in flavor and mouth-feel as expected. We enjoyed each of their wines and loved shooting the breeze with Gary...love that South African accent.

Their South African version of a Bordeaux blend wine, released in North America is called Jardin Cobblers Hill. A Blend of 55% Cab, 30% Merlot and 15% Cab Franc is a Hugely Intense blend of flavors from dark chocolate, black cherry and blackberry. The wine we tasted was a 2003 production, just released at $17/bottle. It has aged for 4 years in the bottle and is drinking extremely well right now. I recommend this as a RED CASE selection, which means: buy it and drink over the next year or two. Pull out a bottle and taste test it against any "Bordeaux Style" California wines and see how the flavors of this wine stand out. You will find yourself reaching back for a Cobblers Hill when you are looking for a familiarly good wine to open with dinner. Oh, and when you do get this wine, smell it before you drink it.....it has an incredibly intense nose!

Gary and Kathy also have a second label called BRADGATE, and we tried the Bradgate Syrah, which was very good...not a lot of heat or too much extracted fruit. A really nice wine with a light approach to Syrah but a long finish of rich flavor. Bradgate retails for $8 which is a STEAL, MY FRIENDS....this is a great wine for more than twice the price.

Kevin likes his whites more than I do, so I look to his palate when tasting the next South African wine: Sequillo White 2006. The Sequillo is made by a partnership with two well-known wine producing families in the Swartland region of South Africa. I don't know anything about S.A. geography, but I read that on their website....so it is a wine producing region of similar geography and climate to Southern Rhone region of France which is known for Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Viognier & Roussanne. The wines from Sequillo are the White 2006 and the Red 2004. The White is crisp and acidic and yet mellow in flavor of tangerine and stone fruits. This is one of the best whites I have had. I am getting a few bottles to have for the White drinkers in my life. Most of them look for the Chard. and I will blow them away with this sweet, yet crisp wine. Retails: $27/bottle

For those interested: Sequillo Red was also good, but not as good as the Cobblers Hill, or the Bradgate, in my opinion. I thought the wine was a little one-dimensional with not enough of the unique flavors of GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) coming through. At $27/bottle, that extra $10/bottle vs. Cobblers Hill is wasted money, as far as I'm concerned.

No comments: