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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 #181 (article first published : 2007-09-2)

In contrast to the snobbish prejudices of yesteryear, pink wines now seem to be increasing in popularity, and so are metal screwtops on wine bottles.

A good rosé looks lovely in the glass and its usually delicate flavours are well suited to hot weather in particular. As for screwcaps, they provide a better seal than cork according to some experts, and of course they are much easier to remove. The result is that the screwtop, long the mark of a cheap wine, is now being used for many upmarket, quality wines that are not intended for long maturation.

Both points are made in a new release from the Robertson-based Graham Beck Wines, one of the Cape’s top producers. The wine is a 2007 Pinotage Rosé and the Graham Beck cellar is using a screwcap for the first time, with an elegant grey foil that makes the closure look rather like a cork.

This particular wine comes from vineyards that were specifically farmed to produce rosé wine with a relatively low alcohol content and a fresh and zesty character. The result is a fine, rather complex wine, dry but fruity, with a wide range of tastes and aromas: strawberry, cherry, pineapple, peach.

The winemaker is Irene Waller, one of the steadily growing band of women in this field, and she says that the fruitiness almost gives the impression of a sweet wine though it is actually dry.

It is certainly easy on the eye and on the palate and would go well by itself as an aperitif or with light summer dishes. The alcohol content is 13 percent and the label on the bottle says cheerfully: “Display with pride on your alfresco table or pack it with a smile in your picnic basket”. Retail price is about R40 a bottle.

******* ******* ******

Peter and Annette Hoyer put out some very expensive red wines when our private tasting group met at their house recently. The six wines tasted came from five countries – South Africa, France, Italy, Chile and Australia - and were all of high quality. The scoring was consistently high, ranging from an average of 17,2 points out of 20 to 18,4.

Perhaps understandably, the top marks in the blind tasting went to the two wines from the familiar ground of the Western Cape: the Kaapzicht Steytler Vision 2003, a blend of cabernet, merlot and pinotage from the family-owned Kaapzicht estate at Stellenbosch; and Vergelegen Red 2000, cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc, from the well-known Anglo American-owned winery near Somerset West. These wines retail at R170 and R250 a bottle respectively. One would expect them to be outstanding, and they were.

The other wines tasted were: Carmignano Piaggia 2001 from Tuscany, Italy, a blend of 20 percent cabernet, 10 percent merlot and 70 percent sangiovese, price R200; Chateau Figeac 2000 from St Emilion, Bordeaux, France, 20 percent cabernet franc, 80 percent merlot, R350; Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2003 from the Barossa valley in South Australia, R150, and Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005 from the Concha y Toro vineyards in Chile, R70 (good value, this one, because it scored almost as well as the others). – Michael Green




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