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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 (article first published : 2003-04-10)

The attractively named, labelled and priced Gecko Ridge wines offer exceptional value in a range of half a dozen whites and reds. The wines are produced at Stellenbosch at a cellar owned by the international French-based Pernod Ricard group. The grapes are grown in various regions, and the object is to turn out good wines at reasonable prices.

There is no doubt that Gecko Ridge have succeeded in this. Put plainly, their wines taste as if they cost much more than they do. Not one of them, in my opinion, has the thinness and lack of character which one finds in some other inexpensive wines.

New releases from Gecko Ridge include a 2002 chenin blanc which is full-bodied at 12,86 percent alcohol and is greenish-gold in colour. Like many good chenins the wine has quite an assembly of fruity flavours --- citrus, gooseberry, melon, granadilla ---and it has a dry finish and a long aftertaste. All this at a retail price of between R12 and R15 a bottle.

Another low cost item is Gecko Ridge Rose, pink, sweetish, and with some intriguing berry and herbal tastes on the palate This is about the R15 mark, as are the lightly wooded Gecko Ridge Chardonnay and the blended Gecko Ridge Dry White.

In a higher price bracket but still very good value is the Gecko Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2001. This is made from grapes grown in the Robertson, Wolseley, Rawsonville, Vinkrivier and Stellenbosch regions. Alcohol content is a moderate 12,7 percent and the wine has been oak-matured. It is quite a bright red, with a berry, slightly smoky bouquet. On the palate one can pick up berries, nuts and spice. It is made for early drinking and is very good now but should improve over the next two to three years. Retail price: R25 to R30.

I know plenty of people who enjoy wine but cannot afford, or are not prepared to pay, high prices. Prices like these are what they are looking for, which no doubt explains the conspicuous commercial success of Gecko Ridge. – Michael Green




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