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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 GREENíS WINE NOTES (article first published : 2002-07-17)

It is a question which often arises when two people are lunching together at a restaurant. An ordinary-sized 750 ml. bottle of wine may be too much, especially if it is a working day. And ďhouse wineĒ bought by the glass does not appeal to everybody.

One of the big Cape wine producers, Stellenbosch Vineyards, has come up with an answer in the shape of a 500 ml bottle. Two-thirds the size of the ordinary bottle, it holds four reasonably-sized glasses of wine, just about right for two people at lunch.

The wine that goes into the new bottles is Versus, one of the big success stories of the industry. Versus White first appeared on the market four years ago, and Versus Red more recently. Both came in imposing one-litre bottles at very attractive prices. These are still produced, but now the same wines also come in half-litre bottles with the same elegant shape, rather reminiscent of a Greek amphora.

Versus White is a blend of chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc, quite a big wine at 13 percent alcohol, with a smooth, rich flavour of peach and gooseberry. It has been an enormous success in the big bottle and no doubt this will be repeated with the half-bottle, which retails at about R16.

Versus Red is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. It is smooth and soft on the palate and has strong berry and chocolate aromas, and it will go well with just about any food, or of course by itself. Retail price is about R21 a half-bottle.

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The giant KWV winery at Paarl continues to be one of South Africaís major wine exporters. It reports that it has recently made an important breakthrough in Germany by persuading one of that countryís big liquor dealers, the Markant Buying Group, to market the KWVís Robertís Rock range of wines.

This is a big deal involving more than 700,000 bottles of wine, and it was negotiated through a German wine importing company, Eggers and Franke, which the KWV bought seven years ago.

Robertís Rock wines are named after one of the dominant features of the Paarl Mountain. The Robert who gave his name to the rock was Robert Jacob Gordon, a Netherlands officer of Scottish descent who was a prominent explorer at the Cape more than 200 years ago. - Michael Green




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