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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2004-08-29)

Wines from producers associated with the Distell liquor organisation were on show recently at a major tasting held at the Holiday Inn Elangeni in Durban. Among the cellars and labels represented were Allesverloren, Alto, Durbanville Hills, Fleur du Cap, JC le Roux, Pongracz, Nederburg, Neethlingshof, Stellenzicht, Theuniskraal, Uitkyk and Zonnebloem.

These are all distinguished names on the Cape wine scene, and the wines available for tasting lived up to the reputations of their makers. On these occasions it is wise to sip and smell rather than to swallow, and to go easy in any case. Here are some of the wines I sampled:

Durbanville Hills Chardonnay 2003. Lovely peach/pear/lime flavours. This wine retails at R31 a bottle at my neighbourhood liquor store and is good value.

Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2000. Outstanding. Mulberry flavours, hint of wood, elegant. Like many good red wines these days, expensive, about R86.

Fleur du Cap Chardonnay 2003. A lovely lightly oaked white wine, lime flavours again. Price: R31.

Nederburg Private Bin Cabernet Sauvignon. One of Nederburg’s special wines, as distinct from the normal reliable range. This one is excellent, with hints of mint and coffee. About R68.

Allesverloren Touriga Nacional 2003. An unusual red wine, made from a grape used for the well-known Allesverloren Port. Touriga Nacional is the best-known red wine cultivar in Portugal and produces excellent table wines in the Douro region. This Allesverloren has fruity, spicy flavours with an aroma of blackcurrant and raisins. It should stand up well to rich, spicy foods. R46.

Jacobsdal Pinotage. One of the best-known examples of South Africa’s own wine cultivar, a benchmark pinotage for nearly 40 years. Oak-matured, full-bodied, fairly austere in style but very attractive. R45.

In a tasting list of about 80 wines undoubtedly the most distinctive was Laszlo’s Tokaji Aszu, a sweet dessert wine made by Dr Julius Lazslo, who was the cellarmaster of the Bergkelder organisation for many years and has now retired to his native Hungary. Tokay is the famous grape of Hungary, and this wine, made from noble rot grapes, is similar in style to Cape wines like the celebrated Nederburg Edelkeur.

It has its own distinctive qualities of course. I had a small sample, and the flavours are honey, raisins, nuts, cocoa and other delicious things. It comes in a traditional 500 ml bottle (two-thirds of the ordinary size) and sells at a formidable R260 a bottle. If you want some, phone the Bergkelder, (021) 809 8280.

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The Robertson area, 200 kilometres east of Cape Town, has come into steadily increasing prominence in recent years as a producer of good quality, good value wines.

If you are visiting the Cape in the spring, a good time to go, you might consider calling in at the Robertson Wine Valley food and wine festival, to be held at the Robertson show grounds on October 15 and 16. More than 250 wines will be presented by 30 local producers, who will be on hand to discuss their wines. A wide variety of dishes will be available, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines (he is well known in Durban) and Abrie Bruwer of Springfield estate will conduct cooking courses.

The admission cost of R60 includes a wine tasting glass, food and wine tastings, and trips to local award-winning gardens. – Michael Green




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