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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #169 (article first published : 2007-03-13)

Blended red wines have sometimes been regarded as vaguely inferior to single cultivar wines --- cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz, for example ---but I don’t think this is the case any more when it comes to good Cape reds.

When our private tasting group met at my house recently I offered a selection of red blends, and the response of the guests was gratifying.

Seven wines were tasted blind, with nothing to guide the tasters but a list and brief descriptions (and no indication of the order in which they were served).

The scoring was generally high, with the wines averaging between 15 and 18 points out of 20, good marks by our standards. And the taste buds are still functioning well. Top marks were given unanimously to a wine that turned out to be the most expensive on the list: the Jordan Cobblers Hill of 2003, which retails at about R180 a bottle.

This cellar at Stellenbosch produces a range of very fine red and white wines, and Cobblers Hill, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, is its flagship. The unusual name stems from the Jordan family background in the shoe business. The wine itself has complex dark chocolate, cherry, blackberry and vanilla scents and flavours.

Second place went to a Cape classic, Alto Rouge, the 2004 vintage, also from Stellenbosch, a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and shiraz, hints of tobacco in the aroma, chocolate and vanilla on the palate. At about R50 a bottle this wine is a good buy for the special occasion.

Third was the Moreson Magia 2002, so named because a Bulgarian described it as “magia”, magical. This wine from Franschhoek has a vegetative aroma and tastes of cinnamon, vanilla, liquorice. Price: R115.

The other wines tasted were:

Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill Red 2003 from Paarl, cabernet, zinfandel (a grape planted widely in California), shiraz, touriga (used in Portugal for port) and merlot. Good value at R38.

Backsberg Elba 2003, a blend of Mediterranean grape varieties: malbec, shiraz, mourvedre, sangiovese, viognier. Aromatic, berry flavours. Also good value at R40.

Middelvlei Pinotage Merlot 2005, juicy plum character, R50

The Oak Valley Blend 2004, from Elgin, 88 percent merlot, 9 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent cabernet sauvignon. Dark red, berry flavours, quite spicy. R110.

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The South African artist William Kentridge has granted six wine producers permission to use his stage designs for the Mozart opera The Magic Flute on their bottle labels. The cellars are Boekenhoutskloof, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Meerlust, Quoin Point, Rustenberg and Tokara.

In return the wineries will each donate R50,000 towards the costs of special matinees for disadvantaged children when the opera is produced in Cape Town and Johannesburg in September.




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