Thursday 8 December 2011

Wine Joke of the Month - December

A dinner party of different nationalities had arrived at a restaurant. They each ordered a glass of wine, but when the wine arrived they noticed that each of the glasses had a fly in it. 

  • The Swede demanded to have new wine in the same glass. 
  • The Englishman demanded to have new wine in a new glass. 
  • The Finn picked the fly out of the wine and drank the wine. 
  • The Russian drank the wine, fly and all. 
  • The Chinese ate the fly but left the wine. 
  • The Jew caught the fly and sold it to the Chinese. 
  • The Roman drank two thirds of the wine and then demanded to have new wine. 
  • The Norwegian took the fly and went off to fish for cod. 
  • The Irishman ground the fly and mixed it in the wine, which he then donated to the Englishman. 
  • The American sued the restaurant and claimed for a 65 million dollars compensation for mental suffering. 
  • The Scotsman grabbed the fly by the throat and roared: 'Now spit out all that you swallowed!!'

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Wine Tasting in the Winelands

I came across quite a funky website, which will benefit all us jealous Gautengers when it comes to exploring the numerous Cape wine farms. If you like me and enjoy wine and know a bit about it, but do not know your ass from your elbow when it comes to the Winelands, then this website is for you! I don't know about you, but reference to Table Mountain (as awesome and amazing as it is) when it comes to directions, is a little cumbersome. I mean how many times have you heard that famous line in that tone deaf, chilled accent when asking for directions: "Just like drive towards the mountain hey." And then what?!  

My suggestion: Go to and plan your whole trip to various wine farms before you even leave our glorious, polluted, taxi infested and impatient Gauteng. Like I rate wines, these guys rate wine farms for their suitability towards: Family, Friends or Couples and fill the missing link which is a necessity. The "wine farm reviews" include useful information such as:

  • Maps and a geographical location of the wine farms by area or wine routes
  • The style of the wine farm and who it would suit i.e. couples, family, friends etc.
  • The varieties of wine available at the farm
  • Which facilities and activities are catered for at the farm i.e. cellar tours, wine safaris, spas, museums etc.
  • Dates and times when the wine farms are open
  • Fees and contact details
  • and even decent photos so that you can get a feel for the place before arriving! 

My next trip to the Winelands no longer seems so daunting and I'm quite eager to put this available info to the test. I'm thirsty already!...

Friday 2 December 2011

Wine Reviews & Info on the Go!

If you would like access to my wine reviews and all sorts of wine info, Follow me on Twitter: @thewineoak
If you on Facebook, I also have a page: which you can "Like"

Please feel free to tweet me or post on my facebook page if you have any wine related questions or if you would like to contribute in the form of a wine review or information about wine or an event etc.

Happy Social Networking!

Thursday 1 December 2011

Poll Results - November 2011

Interesting to see that there is no clear winner when it comes to the white varieties, with the regular ones all competing well against each other with close results. The most common or recognized 5 varieties all came in at 1st or 2nd place. Here are the results:

  • 1st: Riesling and Viognier with 18.5% of the votes each
  • 2nd: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc with 13% of the votes each
  • 3rd: Pinot Grigio with 8% of the votes
  • 4th: Gewurztraminer and Semillon with 5% of the votes each
  • 5th: Pinot Gris & Blended white wines with 2% of the votes each
  • 6th: Colombar & Muscat, shame poor lads scored 0% each
Here are a few characteristics of the top 5 varieties and most likely why they are the winners. Obviously these common characteristics of the varieties are generalizations, as wine making techniques and terroir do affect the characteristics of wine:

Riesling: Very aromatic, can be slightly sweeter with rounded acidity. Generally not wooded and has good ageing potential. Older Rieslings can have kerosene or honey like characteristics. 

Viognier: In a nutshell, pleasing floral aromas and very aromatic.

Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp, light, fresh and refreshing with high acidity. Good on its own on hot summer days. generally not wooded. 

Chardonnay: Wooded most of the time and therefore full bodied. Citrus flavours and creamy. Stands up to food and has good ageing potential. 

Chenin Blanc: The most versatile of the lot. Can be wooded or unwooded, fresh and fruity, rich and ripe or sweet. Described as a tropical fruit salad and has a slight bitterness at the back of the throat (that's not a bad thing) 

With all this talk about white wine, what will you be drinking today? 

Thursday 3 November 2011

Wine Joke of the Month - October

A woman and a man are involved in a bad car accident. Both cars are totally demolished. Luckily, neither are hurt.
After they crawl out of their cars,the woman says 'Wow, just look at our cars! There's nothing left, but fortunately we are unharmed. This must be a sign that we should be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days.'
The man replied, 'I agree with you completely. This must be a sign!'
The woman continued, 'And look at this,here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.'
Then she hands the bottle to the man. The man nods his head in agreement, opens it and drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman.
The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap back on and hands it back to the man.
The man asks, 'Aren't you having any?'
The woman replies, 'No. I think I'll just wait for the police.'

Courtesy of Janke van Zyl 

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Poll Results - October 2011


And the winner is... Pinot Noir! The favourite varieties seem to be Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
The results are as follows:

Pinot Noir                       30%
Cabernet Sauvignon      23%
Shiraz                            15%
Merlot                            6%
Grenache                       6%
Cabernet Franc             6%
I prefer blends               6%
Pinotage                        4%
Malbec                           2%
Mourvedre                     2%

Monday 24 October 2011

A Good Evening, A Good Creation

Wine & Food Pairing with Creation Wines at De kloof Restaurant - 14 October

So you enjoy good wine, good food and golf I hear you say? Well then you should visit the new hotspot in Pretoria - De Kloof Restaurant is situated at Waterkloof Golf Estate. So whether you just need to visit the driving range (as do I after yesterday’s frustrating round of golf!) and enjoy a couple of exclusive and damn good quality beers with some mates after, or treat a special someone to fantastic food, excellent wine and a scenic backdrop with amazing sunsets, De Kloof Restaurant is the place to be. I was invited to a wine and food pairing dinner by Charl Whitlock of Dekloof Restaurant, which was hosted by the lovely Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines. People, dine at this place and buy any of the wines in the Creation range and you will be pleasantly satisfied with orgasms in your mouth. mmm... perhaps perfect and fair game for that awkward first date, use it, don’t use it ;)

Right, back to the order of the day - 6 amazing dishes and 6 amazing wines to complement each other:

Luderitz Oysters, cucumber spaghetti, peach & pickled sorbet paired with 2011 Creation Viognier
You know Beechies peach & apricot gum? This Viognier smells exactly the same. Its fruity and smooth, but don’t let its ‘delicate’ nature fool you, it will gladly stand up to food and these oysters are a perfect match. A couple more of these oysters and that first date will be on a different level.

Basil crusted seabass, served with saffron & lemon risotto, asparagus, fennel beurre blanc paired with 2011 Creation Sauvignon Blanc
Complex flavours with passion fruit, granadilla and lots of greens. It’s a young wine and the balance of fruit and acidity will allow this Sav Blanc to age a couple of years. Great with the seabass!

Pan-seared Irish scallops, pear puree, pain d ' epice paired with 2010 Creation Chardonnay
It’s big, smoky but yet lime fresh, need I say more? This is the first time I have had scallops and I have seen Bear Grylls chowing these things on his show. I'm sure he will prefer scallops De Kloof style together with this fresh big Chardonnay. Charl, I think you should Tweet Bear and invite him for dinner. But then again, does he have taste buds left??

At this point we break and have a freakin amazing palate cleanser: Olive oil sorbet. It’s so good and so refreshing. I wonder if this will cure a hangover? I think it actually could... The event so far is great. There is a buzz around the restaurant which is fully attended. Charl and Carolyn have been excellent hosts with everything running smoothly to a tee. Carolyn’s input regarding the wine making process and info about the farm has been extremely interesting and informative.   

Duo of smoked veal sweetbreads & slow-roasted veal brisket, served with a shitake (glad I typed that correctly) mushroom ragout, vanilla pomme cigar, rosemary jus paired with 2010 Creation Pinot Noir
Aah, we onto the reds... this is elegance in a glass with red berries, spice, forest floor and mushrooms. Again beautiful pairing! I'm also starting to wonder if the Chef can do anything wrong? Nope!

Black Olive crusted rack of lamb, fresh broad beans, sun dried tomato & balsamic jus paired with 2010 Creation Syrah/Grenache
Now this is my favourite dish and definitely my favourite wine of the night! A lovely Rhône-style blend which is big and juicy with fruity plums. Its smooth and very versatile. The lamb and wine fit like a glove. I’ll have another round of each please!

Dark chocolate fondant, blackberry (not the phone) & Merlot sorbet, black pepper tuile paired with 2010 Creation Merlot
Red berries in my nose which carry over to my palate too with added savoury & chocolate characters. Drinks easy like I enjoy a Merlot to be. Those that know me know I don’t have a sweet tooth, but the dessert is an explosion of WOW in my mouth. The pairing was interesting and it worked well although a Natural Sweet Wine or a Noble Late Harvest may have been slightly better.

I'm disappointed. Disappointed that the courses are finished and I need to leave shortly. Complements to the Chef! Now let me just get 1 more glass of that Rhône-style blend. Gulp, gulp, gulp...  

Monday 10 October 2011

Win Tickets to WineX Sandton - Rand Merchant Bank Wine Festival

RMB WineX is a great way to relax with friends and enjoy an evening tasting some of the more than 1000 wines available from the 250 Cape producers who exhibit at South Africa's premier wine event.
Come and meet local and international winemakers, taste their current releases and learn about the latest trends in winemaking, glassware, coolers (home storage) and wine racks. 

Sponsored by Rand Merchant Bank, WineX is the premier public event on South Africa's national wine calendar and draws thousands of wine enthusiasts every year.

To stand a chance of winning 2 tickets to the opening day of this premier event on Wednesday 26 October 2011, simply post your favourite wine related joke to this post below. In order to qualify, you need to either follow The Wine Oak on Twitter or "LIKE" The Wine Oak Facebook Page.  
Competition ends on on Thursday 20 October and winners will be notified by Friday 21st October. 
So get the jokes flowing, to enjoy a great wine festival!

Friday 7 October 2011

Win 2 Tickets to the Joburg Motor Show

Want to stand a chance of winning 2 tickets to the Joburg International Motor Show next week? Simply "LIKE" The Wine Oak Facebook Page and post: "Win JIMS" as a comment on the wall or Follow The Wine Oak on Twitter or both!

The Johannesburg International Motor Show (also popularly known as the Joburg Motor Show) is the single largest international automotive event in Southern Africa.
The exhibition (held once every two years) runs in conjunction with two additional shows 'Auto Shop' and the 'Johannesburg Truck Show' which collectively offer a complete representation of the motor industry, serving Sub Saharan Africa and South Africa as host country. This event takes place at the MTN Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec, Johannesburg, and is a comprehensive automotive lifestyle show case.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Poll Results – September 2011

Thats the way aha aha I like It!
92% of the readers of my blog are seriously awesome, although the other 8% are cool too J

The Poll posted was: “How many bottles of wine do you consume per month?”

The Results: 92% consume more than 9 bottles per month and the remaining 8% consume 1 to 2 bottles per month. 

Friday 30 September 2011

Wine Joke of the Month - September

The regular taster died at a wine merchant and the director started looking for a new one to hire.
A drunkard with a ragged, dirty look came to apply for the position and the director of the warehouse wondered how to send him away. So they tested him by giving him a glass of wine to drink.
He tried it and said, "It's a muscat, three years old, grown on a north
slope, matured in large old barrels. Low grade but acceptable."

"That's correct", said the boss.

Another glass....

"It's a cabernet, eight years old, a south-western slope, new oak barrels,
matured at 8 degrees. Requires three more years for finest results.”


A third glass...

''It's a non-vintage pinot champagne, high grade and exclusive'' calmly said the drunk.

The director was astonished. He winked at his secretary to suggest something.
She left the room and came back in with a glass of urine.

The drunkard tried it.

"It's a blonde, 26 years old, three months pregnant and if you don't give me
the job, I'll name the father."

Courtesy of Alberto Reis 

Thursday 29 September 2011

Uncorked 2, Sabrage and Releasing Gas – Part 2

The Wine School – Uncorked 2: 24 September 2011

At last, the time has come and Janice kindly invites us to her modern, cool and quirky home for Part 2 of the Uncorked 2 course.
We start off with Portugal and Germany to complete the Old World wine portion of the course. We try a Vinho Verde from Portugal which is ‘summery’ and easy drinking and a Riesling from Germany which is honey-like with a kerosene character and slightly sweet which is the norm for a Riesling.

We all receive a slight scare when Cindy pulls out her sabre! J Luckily we are assured it’s only to sabrage the champagne bottle with.

Sabrage is a technique for opening a Champagne bottle with a sabre, used for ceremonial occasions. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck. The force of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck.

Watch the video: 

We take a break and head into the garden where Cindy demonstrates her skills and slices the top portion of the champagne bottle off like a hot knife through butter. We all get treated to a glass or 2 of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne, which is dry, ‘biscuity’ and delicious.

Next we delve into New World wine from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and discover the contrast compared to that of Old World wine. New World wines differ as follows:  

·        They can be drunk sooner than Old World wines which require ageing in order for them to soften and mature in order to be drinkable.
·        They challenge convention where much science is involved with more influence from the winemaker and a higher level of hygienic measures followed.
·        Machinery is often, but not always, used for harvesting, whereas vineyards are planted in close proximity in the Old World and therefore only handpicking of the grapes is possible.  
·        The wine labels state what varietals are in the bottle as opposed to Old World  wine which merely refer to what region the wine is from.
·        There are more upfront fruit flavours as opposed to ‘earthy’ characteristics.
·         Alcohol percentages are normally higher due to increased sun exposure on the grapevines, thus ensuring higher sugar content of the grapes at harvesting, which means there is more sugar to be converted into alcohol. 

We try a 2003 Penfolds Coonawarra Shiraz from Australia, which is spicy, peppery, smooth and earthy with a cherry characteristic. I do not like the Australians when it comes to sport and cannot wait till South Africa annihilate them in the Rugby World Cup, but man, they sure do make a good Shiraz. 

Finally, after all the hype, the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc makes an appearance and it seems that the weather even turned cloudy just to ensure a momentous occasion. This is rated by some as the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world and I got to agree with that! It’s grassy, herbaceous with green pepper and although there is a lot happening with a full mouth feel, it’s balanced and the taste lingers smoothly. Sshh... I refilled my glass a couple times J   

Veronica is very intrigued by Janice’s gas powered corkscrew opener, which her husband, Sam, demonstrates the use thereof to us. There are shrieks of laughter as Veronica says “I'm finished, I need to purchase one so that I can also release gas.”  

After being around the World, we return back home to South Africa and celebrate by opening (by way of gas release) a 2008 Warwick Three Cape Ladies, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage, which we pair up with some Springbok and Wildebeest pates and biltong. The wine is local and lekker and stands up to the food with its complexity of pepper, spice, herbaceous and banana sniffs.  

This course has been so interesting and a wealth of information and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested. For the peeps that know nothing about wine, The Wine School also offers a course called Uncorked 1, which will put you on the right track to not looking like a poephol when purchasing or ordering wine ; )

Wednesday 21 September 2011

The Hangover 3 - The Taste of Joburg turns 'The Wine Oak' into The Wine Whisky Beer Aguardente Gin Jägermeister Oak!

Gray Lounge
You know it’s going to be a good evening when you hit Montecasino. Not only does it have a cool atmosphere which ensures a good night out, but it also doubles up as a great venue for a very well attended event such as The Taste of Joburg. As my buddy and I walk through the Casino towards the Outdoor Event Arena where the event is being held, we jokingly say that tonight is probably going to be The Hangover 3. The night didn’t include either of us getting a tattoo or a finger chopped off and there weren’t any tigers or monkeys, but an awesome night it was indeed.

We start off at the “Gray” lounge, a new Steakhouse of Chef Philippe Wagenführer, formerly of Roots Restaurant, who does things differently and keeps things unique, delicious and interesting. A purist approach to the food has been adopted by Philippe and the majority of ingredients on his menu are hand crafted.
The restaurant manager, West Ngcwabe, presents us with the wines they have on offer on the night, the first being a 2010 Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc and the other a 2008 Cederberg Red blend. Both are really good and West tells us that they will have other wines on their menu, which is made in collaboration with estates in selected regions and deemed to compliment the food on offer. We agree that I must definitely pay Gray Restaurant in Boksburg a visit, in order to try these complimentary wines, sounds good!
The beer, Dog & Fig, is excellent and very different. The intention of the beer is to compliment the food and it comes from a micro brewery in Parys. And I thought beer was just meant for a braai, you will also think differently after you try this stuff.   

Things get interesting and Portuguese-style at the “Wines of the World” stand, where the friendly Marina introduces us to a 2009 Grāo Vasco, a red blend from the Alentejano Region, which is very pleasant and suitable for everyday easy drinking.
Next up, a shot of Aguardente, which means fiery water in English, which the name describes to a tee. Now this drink I know all about, thanks to my Dad who takes great delight in serving it to unsuspecting visitors who do not know that Aguardente is normally added to an espresso and not downed as a shooter. Aguardente is the name of the Portuguese grape brandy. It is distilled from the Vinho Verde grapes and aged in old Port wine casks giving the end product an interesting flavour and smoothness.

Things seem to be happening at the Gordons Gin stand, which pulls us closer like a moth to a flame. I don’t ever drink Gin, but mixed with cranberry juice, it’s quite lekker.  

We try out a few Reds at the Nederburg stand and the 2009 The Winemaster’s Reserve Pinotage definitely stands out especially at the decent price of around R70 a bottle. It has slight Pinot Noir characteristics pulling through.    

One of the Gems of the night, has to be Wedderwill, firstly because I have never heard of the Wine Farm and secondly because their entire range of wines is fantastic. My favourite is definitely the 2004 Wedderwill, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc which is damn awesome. Wedderwill’s marketing strategy is eye catching and interesting, with cool labels and their Shiraz in a square shaped bottle which tastes good too (the wine not the bottle). The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is drinking beautifully, which is proof that some Sauvignon Blancs can be brilliant with some ageing, particularly those from cooler areas. 

We do a whisky tour at the Johnnie Walker stand and we try out the Black, Green and Red Labels (unfortunately there was no Blue). I have a new appreciation for whisky and the different labels all have very different characteristics just as wine would, but the kick is a lot stronger! By the end of the tour, which is very quick, I take the last sip of Red Label, put down the tumbler and as I leave the stand, the music playing sounds sweeter, people look prettier and I realise I'm actually a little pissed. 3 whisky’s in a row definitely has an effect!
We decide to counter the effects of the whisky and head back to the Gray Lounge where I have the steak which is absolutely mouth wateringly (yip it’s a word – well the spell checker didn’t say otherwise) good and I can’t wait till Gray Restaurant and I meet again.

We end off at the Hermanuspietersfontein stand and end our tasting off in style. I have 2 words for you: Die Martha! I don’t care that the show is ending in 20 minutes because my taste buds are at peace and happy. It’s a Rhône-style ‘SMV’ (Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Viognier) blend. I also try the Swartskaap, a straight Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc is usually a blending component in some Bordeaux-style blends and that’s why this is different and enjoyable. “Would you like some more of the 2007 Die Martha” I hear over my shoulder. My answer: “Hell yeah!”

As we head back to the car, we walk through the Casino, having had a cool evening. But wait it gets better... We touch, pause and engage the 1 arm bandit and win 200 bucks! Time to get home to wake up in time, to watch the Bokke play against Fiji at 8am! 

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Old World Romanticism & New World Uncorked – Part 1

The Wine School, Uncorked 2 – 10 September 2011

From left to right: Cindy, Kimce, Veronica (teachers pet), Janice, Mandy, Vernon, Andrew and Kirsty 

The Wine Oak loves winning stuff, especially when the prize is awesome! It’s been a long time since I had my amazing winning streak whilst being a diligent student (haha, if I wrote a blog back then, it would have been called The Captain Morgan Oak) and it’s about time I win something besides getting 3 numbers in the national lottery. Do you feel lucky? Yes I do, so I enter a lucky draw to win an International Wine Course for a couple, on The Only Cin’s Blog. It’s a blog by Cindy Taylor and is mostly about her passion for food, cooking and wine, check it out: 
I had a good feeling about entering the lucky draw because I won! Lets hope this is only the beginning of the next winning streak.

The International Wine Course, known as “Uncorked 2,” is presented by Janice Scheckter of The Wine School, which is located in Illovo, Johannesburg. (
The course is twofold, with part 1 focusing on the Old World including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany while part 2 covers the New World including South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.   

Kimcé and I arrive and a welcoming aroma of strong coffee passes through the air as we meet Cindy and Janice who offers us a cup of the irresistible coffee. As the other attendees arrive, the impressive fish tank is admired by all and the big yellow goldfish really do have a desired calming effect.
We start the course off and taste the first wine at about 09:30, but it is 12pm somewhere in the world and I’m pretty sure an aeroplane did fly over a few minutes earlier J, so all is good. Janice definitely keeps all our attention as the course is somewhat laid back, interactive, interesting and not in the format of a boring lecture, unlike some informatics and business management lectures I attended back in the day at varsity, *yawn*.

Teachers Pet ;)

“Old World wine” refers primarily to wine made in Europe and can include other regions of the Mediterranean basin such as North Africa and the Near East, with long histories of winemaking. The phrase is often used in contrast to “New World wine” which refers primarily to wines from the United States, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to name a few.
Tradition and the role of the terroir, which refers to the aspects of a wine region such as soil, climate, topography and how well the wine communicates the sense of place where it originated, are central to the winemaking process of Old World wines and wines are labelled with the regions name rather than the grape variety, which we are accustomed to as a New World wine producing country. Old World winemakers will often attempt to downplay the role of the winemaker and avoid techniques that may mask or distort the expression of terroir. On the other side of the coin, the New World places more emphasis on science and the role of the winemaker in the winemaking process with techniques used to bring out the fruit flavours of a wine.           

Old World wine regions have developed viticultural techniques and practices adapted around their unique climates and landscapes, which are enshrined in local wine laws and regulations such as the French Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC).
Generally Old World vineyards were planted many years ago in close proximity which is only sufficient for manual pruning and harvesting, unlike Australia for instance where vineyards are planted further apart to adopt the use of mechanical agriculture. 
“There is definitely a sense of romanticism associated with Old World winemaking, which you can not help but admire.”
The result is more tannic and austere wines with more layers of complexity and earthy characteristics that require longer periods of bottle ageing in order to mature. In contrast, New World wines are generally softer and mature earlier with upfront fruit characteristics.

Janice explains the wine laws and different wine regions of France, Italy and Spain and its apparent that the New World follows a much simpler approach by planting varietals as and where they see fit as apposed to the Old World where certain varietals are only allowed to be planted in certain regions.

We try 5 wines and they are different to the New World style which I have become accustomed to, but they are all very good. They are somewhat of an acquired taste which makes it very exciting for me as I get to try something new, different and look forward to learn to appreciate, just like when I initially started drinking wine, whoop whoop! 

Part 2 of the course takes place on the 24th September and I can not wait!...

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Have You Got Something Sweet?

Soweto Wine Festival – 2 September 2011
As I drive through the very busy streets of Soweto, the white man paranoia sets in – are my doors locked? But then I realise I’m being a dumb ass, as this place has a cool vibe and everyone is only too pleased because it’s… the… weekeeeend baby! I pull into the University of Joburg and there are friendly people enjoying the hundreds of wines available at the festival which is sponsored by Tops Spar and well attended.

I meet up with Wino Andy and Wino Doug from Real Time Wine and we start off our tasting. The champagne stall is busy and so are all the stands with sweet wine! The Four Cousins stand is COOKING, especially because one of the cousins, Hennie is there and a paparazzi of fans are taking photos with him. We had a good chat with Hennie and he is a friendly guy. Our favourite line of the night is:
“Have you got something sweet?”
Four Cousins Stand Cooking
Andy with the Cousin

It’s apparent that the Soweto market is not familiar with dry wine and the majority generally prefer champagne or the sweet tasting stuff, which regular wine drinkers may not necessarily enjoy, as they have been exposed to other styles of wine and acquired a liking to such, as it requires an acquired taste after all. It’s great to see that events and initiatives like this take place, which introduces consumers to wine, who under normal circumstances wouldn’t opt for it as their choice of beverage. I hope you are reading this wine marketers, there is a huge untapped market here guys, Soweto is keen on the fermented grape we know as wine, but probably end up sticking to what they know. Hell, I didn’t enjoy wine the first time I tried it, but I learned to appreciate and love it, especially after the more I learnt about it. So perhaps some tutored tastings will be an excellent start in this market? Profit is where the numbers are! Use it, don’t use it, but that’s my 2 cents worth.

Back to the event! We tried many wines but the most memorable was the Café Culture Pinotage which Andy was quite eager and persistent about J It tastes like cold coffee with a couple shots of wine! I gave it a 3/10 and Andy gave it 2/10, say no more.

I decided that when I attend wine festivals and try many wines, I won’t concentrate on scoring wines and prices etc, but rather on the enjoyment and drinking part. I mean, all work and no play, makes The Wine Oak grumpy!
So for the evening, these are some of the wines which stood out for me from a positive point of view:

2009 Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon (unreleased) – Young for a Cab but its going to be a winner. First time in 4 years Meerlust has released a single varietal Cab Sav. Warning, it is pricey at about R220 per bottle.

2009 Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Merlot – Different, about R110 a bottle

2009 Raka Barrel Select Merlot – I like, R95 a bottle

1999 Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon – Available from Vinotèque at R60 a bottle! Bargain, although its over its peak and may be starting to turn, so drink right now!

2008 Leopards Leap Family Collection, Shiraz/ Mourvèdre / Viognier Blend – Decent and good buy at R55

2009 Asara Merlot – Difficult to find a decent Merlot with good Merlot characteristics in SA, this is good at a reasonable price of approximately R80 a bottle.  

2007 Ormonde Vernon Basson Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc – A blend  and its good, although it is about R195 a bottle.

Monday 5 September 2011

To Screw, Or To Cork & Chenin Blanc Versatility

Chenin Blanc Association Lunch - 26 August 2011

Spring is a week early as I enter Thomas Maxwell Kitchen in Parkmore and the weather is perfect for sipping on a range of quality Chenin Blancs. The room is a buzz with conversations of social media and Chenin Blanc by Andy Hadfield, creator of Real Time Wine and a few true industry leaders of the Chenin Blanc Association whom are hosting the lunch.

I was invited along with Andy as a guest from Real Time Wine, to hear about new developments in South Africa’s great white varietal and to talk a bit about social media and Real Time Wine’s funky, versatile and “Top Gear” approach to 140 character wine reviews.

From the get-go, the hospitable Jeff Grier of Villiera, places a glass in my paw and fills it up with a cool refreshing Chenin Blanc, which is very much appreciated after the dreaded bumper to bumper trip on the N1 from Pretoria. Jeff, introduces me to Zakkie Bester of Riebeek Cellars, Richard Kershaw of Mulderbosch and Ken Forrester of Ken Forrester Wines. Luckily all the testosterone in the house is dissected as the cheerful Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright, Editor of Winestyle Magazine arrives, followed by Lyn Woodward, a Cape Wine Master, Kim Hoepfl from Woman and Home Magazine and Katy Chance from Business Day.

We are presented with an interesting and delicious menu, with various diverse options to pair with and try the great versatility of Chenin Blanc. I start off with a bowl of fresh mussels, simmering in a white sauce, lemon, garlic and parsley cream, followed by Free Range – pan fried duck breast served on a cauliflower pomme puree and finished off with a champagne Beurre Blanc. Compliments to the chef!   

As I devour my duck, feathers are stirred by a highly contentious topic, “Screw Cap Versus Cork” and the legendary Ken Forrester firmly stands his ground favouring screw cap as a superior form of closure for wine bottles. It seems the general consensus is confirmed around the table, although comments are made by some that there is a time and place for cork. Ken points out that it is a misconception that cork is involved in the ageing process of wine and says its sole and only purpose is for use as a closure, full stop. It’s actually the oxygen trapped within the bottle that causes the ageing effect on a wine, as a good quality cork is not meant to be porous. There is a less possibility of a wine being contaminated by a screw cap and being “corked.” Additionally, screw caps allow wines to be stored vertically as it is not necessary for the wine to be in contact with the screw cap, as is the case with a cork, in order for it to remain moist to prevent it from contracting and allowing excessive oxygen contact with the wine. Richard explains to us that constant temperature regulation, which is ideally around 13 degrees Celsius, has a stronger influence on the ageing effect of a wine.

It is agreed that cork definitely has an influence on the purchasing characteristics of consumers, as a wine is perceived to be more premium and expensive, so to say, if its closed with such.
The quick thinking Andy quickly posts on Facebook and tweets a poll to the Real Time Wine Followers:

“Would you buy a premium wine with a screw cap? Yes or No.”
The response is somewhat surprising. Screw cap wins 14 - 3!

We continue to discuss the versatility of Chenin Blanc and the various styles from Fresh and Fruity, Rich and Ripe to Sweet and even Sparkling. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s champion wine and the most recognised white wine varietal globally and at home in SA. It is the largest cultivar in production in South Africa, accounting for almost 30% of all white wine production and 20% of overall production (SAWIS). Distracted by all the conversation, I don’t even realise I’m on my fourth Chenin Blanc as it complements the food so well. Let me trace back a few steps…

Andy, Ken and I scored one of the Chenins:

2009 Villiera Traditional Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc.
I said: Its Austin Powers: its nutty. Its also creamy but goes down under, like Australia… Rich but easy. 8/10

Andy said: Smells like nutty sour yeast. Thick with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Subtle, not powerful. 7/10

Ken said: Expecting: Traditional. Smell: Bakery vanilla waft. Honey/ koeksister taste. Main course wine. 8/10

Other Chenins we tried:

2010 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc Steen Op Hout – I think its well balanced with a lime characteristic and easy drinking.

2010 Kasteelberg Chenin Blanc (Riebeek Cellars) – I find it smoky, buttery and full bodied.

2009 The FMC (Forrester Meinert Chenin) – Its rich, elegant, complex and a special occasion wine.

We end off with dessert and I opt for a crème Brule to accompany the 2009 “T” Noble Late Harvest. A sweet tooth I don’t have, but what a good decision, yum!