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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 : 2004-05-12)

A high quality but relatively little known white wine took the honours at a recent blind tasting of our private wine group, hosted by Peter and Annette Hoyer. This was the Agusta Chardonnay of 2001, produced at the cellar in Franschhoek established six years ago by Count Riccardo Agusta, Italian and a former racing driver.

We tasted seven distinguished chardonnays, and the Agusta, which has brought home prizes in competitions, was a comfortable winner on the scorecard. Oak-matured, it is a superb wine, bone-dry with lime and grapefruit flavours. Price: R70 a bottle.

Second place went to the Boschendal Chardonnay of 2003 which, at R40 a bottle, must be regarded as rather a good buy. This is a full-bodied wine with peach and citrus flavours and a lingering aftertaste. Potent too, at 14,3 percent alcohol.

Just behind it in the markings was the most expensive wine of the evening, Vergelegen Chardonnay Reserve 2000, which costs R150 a bottle. Vergelegen, just outside Somerset West, is a top producer, and this concentrated, aristocratic wine earns four and a half stars in the latest John Platter Guide.

The other chardonnays we tasted were all of exceptional quality. They were: Neil Ellis Signature Series 2002, R56; De Wetshof Limestone Hill 2002, R46; Klein Constantia 2002. R56; and an Australian chardonnay, Yellowtail 2002. R40.

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If you are making a winter trip to the Western Cape you might indulge yourself in one of the wine gourmet lunches and dinners served at the Grande Roche hotel in Paarl, a five-star establishment which takes its name from Paarlís well-known big rock (thatís what Grande Roche means).

From May to mid-October the hotelís Bosmanís Restaurant presents dinners featuring wines from Klein Constantia, Mulderbosch, De Wetshof, Vergelegen and Steenberg, with the winemakers present to discuss their work. The three-course lunches are R220, including all wines, and the five-course dinners are R590, including wines. Or you can stay over for R890 per person sharing, including dinner, bed and breakfast. Thatís quite a lot of money, but itís a grand place. For more information phone 021 863 2727. Ė Michael Green




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