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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-08-18)

Vinimark is a Stellenbosch-based wine company that looks after the local marketing and distribution of wines from a large number of estates and cellars in the Western Cape, and arranges for the export of their products as well.

An impressive tasting of wines from about 20 such producers was presented recently by Vinimark at the Riverside Hotel in Durban North. As is often the case on such occasions, there was an embarrassment of riches, and it would be easy for the over-enthusiastic taster to suffer from a little palate fatigue. It is best to limit oneself and to taste rather than to drink. Here are some of the items I sampled:

Robertson Chardonnay 2003: The Robertson Winery is a co-operative established more than 60 years ago and it produces a wide range of good wines at good prices. This lightly wooded chardonnay has the lemony, vanilla tones typical of this cultivar and is real value at a retail price of about R23 a bottle.

Porcupine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2002: From the Boekenhoutskloof cellar at Franschhoek. Excellent, berry and oak flavours, surprisingly mellow for so young a red wine, which is testimony to the skills which winemakers show these days in producing reds for early consumption. Priced at about R40.

Avontuur Vintner’s Red 2002: From an estate at Stellenbosch, this blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is another good value wine. Smooth and easy on the palate. Price about R37.

Backsberg Chenin Blanc 2003: This wine, from a celebrated estate at Paarl, is an old favourite of mine. It has been on the market for a long time and has been consistently good. This new vintage has a good strong flavour of pears and apples and nuts. Delicious. Price about R29.

Long Beach Café Sauvignon Blanc: Grassy, gooseberry flavour and bouquet, fruity, nice with lunch on a hot day. Comes with a screwtop. About R22.

Goede Hoop Cabernet Sauvignon 1999. One of the grand items in the tasting, from an estate at Stellenbosch. Strong berry flavours, with hints of coffee. Excellent now, should mature further for some years. About R60.

Twee Jonge Gezellen TJ “39” 2002. From the Tulbagh area. The name, of course, means two young gazelles. This attractive dry white is a blend of Weisser Riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and chenin blanc. Attractive price too, about R20 a bottle.

At another tasting at The Wine Domain at Westville the shop’s wine specialist, Michelle Charsley, presented some unfamiliar items. Among those that impressed me were Bodega Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, from a Paarl cellar, attractive cherry flavour and bouquet, R36; Cloof Bush Vine Pinotage 2002, from the Swartland, north of Cape Town, excellent, dark colour, full, deep flavour, R39; and Warwick Pinotage 2001, from a distinguished Stellenbosch estate, jammy, plummy with a touch of strawberry, long aftertaste, R65. – Michael Green




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