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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2001-07-24)

Two of the Cape’s most distinguished estates, Boschendal and Vergelegen, both owned by Anglo American Farms, held a joint tasting at the Hilton Hotel in Durban recently. Attendance was by invitation and for the first time that I can remember my wife and I had to wait in a long queue outside the tasting room, so popular was this event. And justifiably so. The tasters, mainly from the liquor trade and from wine societies, were most enthusiastic about the 30 wines made available to them (plus snacks of a quality that was greatly to the credit of the Hilton).

These are both very upmarket names in the wine world, but Boschendal in particular offers some good value wines, nothing that I would describe as low in price but superior products at reasonable prices. The Boschendal Blanc de Blanc has been one of this cellar’s front runners for many years, now mainly sauvignon blanc with some chardonnay, and it is an exceptionally palatable wine at a retail price in Durban of about R25. Likewise the sauvignon blanc/semillon blend (2000 vintage}, which sells for about R26. And I sampled the 2001 vintage of that old favourite Boschendal Blanc de Noir, literally a white wine made from black grapes, salmon-pink in colour, slightly off-dry, full of flavour, and you can get it in Durban for about R25.

Red wines are generally more expensive than whites, but the Boschendal Lanoy offers good value at about R40. This is a high quality blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and cabernet franc, full of subtle tastes and aromas. It is named after a 17th century Huguenot pioneer of the Franschhoek area. For those with modest purses there is the attractive Boschendal Pavillon Rouge, mainly cabernet sauvignon and merlot, priced at about R23.

Vergelegen is a 300-year-old wine farm near Somerset West that is aiming, indeed heading, for global recognition. It has a couple of moderately priced wines, Mill Race Red and Vin de Florence white, both very good. Its other products are for the connoisseur. There is a complex and rich 1999 cabernet sauvignon and a berry-flavoured merlot, also 1999, which is good now but will probably improve with two or three years of bottle maturation. Among the whites is a citrus-toned 2000 chardonnay (price in Durban about R46) and a big buttery, biscuity 2000 Chardonnay Reserve that is priced here at about R65. Not everyday tipple, but a lovely treat when you feel like splashing out.

*… *… *… *

Ken Forrester of Stellenbosch presented six of his wines at a recent dinner of the Gourmet Society of the Durban Country Club. All very good, especially his chenin blanc, a variety which he sees as South Africa’s big future hope in export markets. You can buy Ken Forrester chenin blanc in Durban for R31.

The dinner menu, chosen by Ken Forrester, was: fish soup flavoured with herbs; lettuce and spinach salad tossed in raspberry vinegar dressing and served with warm cognac and port-marinated duck livers and camembert cheese; escalopes of tuna marinated with Thai spices and served on wild rice; rooster drumsticks stuffed with pine nuts, bacon, and wild mushrooms, braised in sherry and truffle juice; lamb cutlets, marinated in olive oil, garlic and Provencale herbs, grilled and served in a red wine and vinegar reduction; chilled strawberries and pineapple marinated in Grand Marnier and topped with hot sabayon flavoured with marsala.

* * * *

Niels Verburg, winemaker at the Beaumont cellar in the Walker Bay area near Hermanus will present eight of his wines at the next tasting/dinner organised by Belinda Croxon’s Wine Glass school.

Beaumont is a “boutique winery”, a small producer of high quality wines. The function will take place at the Eat Greek restaurant in Durban North on Tuesday (July 31) at 18h30 for 19h00. The cost to Wine Glass members is R100 a head for the tasting, a three-course dinner and dinner wines, and R110 for guests. Bookings: Belinda, phone (031) 208-2567, fax (031) 209-2704.




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