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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-11-19)

Another ethnic label has appeared on the wine scene. This is Shamwari, an attractive sounding word which means friendship, and it is attached to three wines which are the result of a joint venture between the Cape firm Stellenbosch Vineyards and the world’s biggest wine company.

The latter is the United States-based Constellation Wines, a firm which has moved into the European market and is planning to expand South African exports to this area. Britain, Ireland and Denmark are particular targets for the Shamwari brand.

The wines are being sold in South Africa as well, and Stellenbosch Vineyards are responsible for winemaking, production, local distribution, sales and marketing. The three wines are:

Shamwari Chardonnay 2003. This is an attractive wine made with grapes from the Robertson valley. Gold/green in colour, aroma of peach and pineapple, tropical fruit flavours with a touch of lemon and lime. Retail price is about R29.

Shamwari Shiraz 2002. Grapes from Stellenbosch. Ruby colour, black pepper aroma. Gentle tannin tastes, peppery finish. Very good now, and the winemaker, Pieter Kleinhans (who has worked in California and France), says it will keep for up to three years. Price: R33.

Shamwari Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2002. Grapes from the Helderberg mountain near Stellenbosch. The blend is 70 percent merlot and 30 percent cabernet. I found this rather a luscious wine, with hints of mint and chocolate on the palate. Quite potent at 13,5 percent alcohol. R33.

You will note that all three wines are moderately priced. I am always looking for good value, and I sympathise with the writer of a letter in a newspaper who urged their wine writer to get off his vinous pedestal and recommend something good that ordinary wine drinkers could afford. These three wines fall into that category. – Michael Green




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