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MICHAEL GREENíS WINE NOTES (article first published : 2004-06-8)

Juliet Cullinan, a bright spark on the Johannesburg wine scene, has for the past 12 years organised a Juliet Cullinan Wine Festival which has offered Gauteng enthusiasts extensive tastings of wines, the familiar and the new.

This year, she brought the show to the Durban area for the first time, with two well-attended tastings at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club. For R70, you had unlimited tastings of wines from 25 different cellars, including some that were new names to me.

Raka, for example, is a range of seven wines named after a fishing boat owned by Piet Dreyer. His family own the Erica Vineyards cellar at Stanford, just east of Hermanus and close to Cape Agulhas. Raka Red is an attractive, cherry-flavoured blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, ruby cabernet, shiraz and petit verdot. Another red blend is called Raka Quinary and, even more quaint, is the name given to a good shiraz, Raka Biography.

Erica Vineyards have a woman winemaker, Teresa Fourie, as does another little-known cellar, Jasonís Hill, at Rawsonville, near Worcester. The winemaker here is 23-year-old Ivy du Toit and she turns out eight wines ranging in price from R34 to R54 a bottle. The Jasonís Hill shiraz 2001 is powerful and pleasant, and the cabernet sauvignon has good berry flavours. Established only three years ago, this cellar has a small output, 16,000 cases a year at present. No doubt that will increase.

Another name new to me was Sumaridge, a cellar next door to Hamilton Russell in the Walker Bay area, near Hermanus. This is another small operation, only 7,000 cases a year. I tried the Sumaridge Syrah 2002 (shiraz) and found it excellent.

Kloovenburg, in the Swartland district near Riebeek Kasteel, is a farm which was established three hundred years ago but has been bottling wine for only the past six years. They were offering tastings of their shiraz 2000 and chardonnay 2003, both outstanding.

These were some of the unfamiliar names at the Juliet Cullinan Festival. Among the better known cellars represented were some of the most distinguished names in the Cape wine industry: Bouchard Finlayson, Glen Carlou, Hartenberg, Jordan, Ken Forrester, La Motte, Morgenhof, Rhebokskloof, Rupert and Rothschild, Simonsig, Springfield and Vrede en Lust.

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Longridge and Spier wines won five gold medals at the recent Concours Mondial de Bruxelles international wine competition held in Brussels, Belgium. The winning wines were Longridgeís Chardonnay 2002, Pinotage 2002 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, and Spierís Private Collection Viognier 2003 and Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2001.

The Longridge and Spier cellars, both in the Stellenbosch wine region, are owned by Winecorp which has extensive interests in the Western Cape. Its other labels include Savanha, Bay View and Capelands. Ė Michael Green




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