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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-12-2)

Cork or screwcap? The debate continues, with scientific evidence favouring the latter, for white wines anyway, and tradition the former. The big Stellenbosch Vineyards company has shown the judgment of Solomon in producing one of its premium wines, the 2003 Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc, in both screwcap and cork versions, at the same price, about R40 a bottle.

As you may judge by the price, this is an upmarket white wine (Kumkani is the Xhosa word for king), and indeed it has been chosen for service in the SAA first class next year.

The screwcap supporters say that this closure eliminates the possibility of cork taint and is also the most effective seal against oxygen, keeping the wine fresh and fruity.

The chief winemaker of Stellenbosch Vineyards, Chris Kelly (who comes from New Zealand), says: “Screwcaps are making a big impact in the fine wine market internationally and consumers are rapidly becoming more trusting and accepting of this method”.

In either version the Kumkani sauvignon is a very good wine: pale straw colour, aromas and flavours of gooseberry, fig, redcurrant. It is made with grapes from vineyards in the Helderberg hills, 10 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean.

The wine is not too aggressive, as sauvignon blanc sometimes can be, but it has a crisp freshness and a good, long aftertaste. Would go well with fish, chicken, salads, cheese.

And, at 13,5 percent alcohol, it is quite potent. – Michael Green




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