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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #136 (article first published : 2005-08-15)

An exceptionally wide variety of wines, including some distinctly unusual items, was available for tasting when the Stellenbosch-based Vinimark organisation held its annual trade fair in Durban recently.

Vinimark, as its name suggests, is a company which markets and distributes wines from many sources. About 40 different Cape cellars were represented at the Vinimark wine show, which travels around the country every year. Together these producers displayed something like 250 wines for tasting, a tempting treat for connoisseurs, even though a normal sense of caution meant that one could not sample more than a small fraction of the total.

There were plenty of familiar names - for example, Villiera, Glen Carlou, Robertson, Twee Jonge Gezellen, Jordan, Springfield, Zevenwacht - and others that were virtually unknown territory, even for experienced and enthusiastic wine drinkers. Have you ever heard of these wineries: Coleraine, Fryers Cove, Bellevue, Horse Mountain, Ingwe, Reyneke?

Most of the prices quoted in the programme looked very attractive, but these were trade prices and I understand that one should add about 25 percent to get the approximate retail price. Here are some of the wines I tried, with their estimated bottle store prices.

Glen Carlou Chardonnay 2004, from a cellar at Paarl which is owned by a Swiss company. Its winemaker, David Finlayson, is one of the distinguished veterans of the Cape wine industry. This white wine is rich, lemony, buttery, fruity, bursting with flavour on the palate. Retail price would be about R70 a bottle.

Muratie Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, from an estate at Stellenbosch which was established as a farm in 1685. A dark ruby red wine with intense flavours of mulberries and blackcurrants. First-rate now but should develop further in the bottle for the next four or five years. Price about R67.

Jean Daneel Red 2001. A simple name and a simple elegant label, but a very complex wine in the bottle, a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot with mouth-filling flavours of chocolate and cherries. Jean Daneel makes this wine in a cellar at Napier, a town in the Bredasdorp district about 170 kilometres south-east of Cape Town (the town was named, in 1840, after Governor Sir George Napier, but you wouldn’t think so the way the locals pronounce it: Nah-peer). This wine is a top number in every respect. It costs about R160 a bottle.

And here are some more modestly priced but highly palatable wines:

Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2005, from the Boekenhoutskloof cellar at Franschhoek. A dry white with bold, fresh gooseberry flavours and a good aftertaste. About R33.

Goedverwacht Crane White Colombar 2005, from an estate at Robertson. I am not a great colombar fan but I found this excellent: crisp, dry, fresh, fruity with a distinctive guava character. About R27.

Rooiberg Chenin Blanc 2005, from a winery at Robertson that offers good value with all its products. This dry white has delicate flavours and at 12,5 percent alcohol it won’t knock your head off. About R20.

Flagstone Longitude 2004, from a winery at Somerset West that was established only seven years ago but has already built a substantial reputation. This red wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, pinotage, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet franc. As you may imagine, it has a complex character, with berry and cherry flavours and scents dominating. A big wine, 14 percent alcohol. Price: about R29 a bottle.

Twee Jonge Gezellen TJ Thirty Nine 2004. An old favourite from a long-established estate in the Tulbagh district. This crisp white blend of Weisser riesling, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc has had a strong following for many years and is good value at about R23 a bottle.




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