Kaapzicht pinotage at a South African braai

During the recent World Cup fervor I attended a good old-fashioned South African braai sponsored by the Wines of South Africa at the Orangery in Kew Gardens. I’ve recently become a bit of a convert to South African wines and will even drink, *gasp* pinotage. However, it can’t be any pinotage, I do have my standards you know, and it has to be a pinotage with some age on it. I’ve found that pinotages that are from 2007 or older show much better then the young ones. Young pinotages often have that smokey, burnt, pongy quality that put me off of them in the first place and I think they need a few years to mellow out into a more drinkable wine. There were a variety of South Africa’s finest on show, both red and white but the one that took my fancy was the 2007 Kaapzicht  pinotage. Kaapzicht means “cape view” and the vineyards are situated in the shadow of Table Mountain in the Stellenbosh wine region of South Africa. The winery is in the Bottelary Hills of Stollenbosch and benefits from an ideal climate to grow grapes as well as cool sea breezes and north-west facing slopes. The vines that the Kaapzicht pinotage comes from are gnarled old vines that produce low yielding intensely concentrated red wines. The 2007 pinotage was a hugely enjoyable wine. I have to admit, I found it hard to believe that it was a pinotage at first as it was not smokey or burnt but rather fresh and full of very ripe berry fruit on the nose and palate. It had some lovely toasty notes to it, reminiscent of cedar box and tobacco. At the braii, we had ostrich burgers and other exotic meats and I found this wine to be the best match to go with all those exotic meats. I’d never had ostrich before so it was a new experience for me. Not gamey but not steaky, I’m not sure how to describe it other...

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Diemersfontein pinotage

Jun 09, 10 Diemersfontein pinotage

Posted by in South Africa

Lately, I’ve been drinking some very good South African wine. S.A. wines used to be my whipping boy of wines. To say I was not a fan would be an understatement. I don’t know if it’s because of the World Cup or maybe it’s just we’re now getting better S.A. wines here in England but whatever it is, I’m pleased by the result. Diemersfontein Wines is known as one of the best pinotage producers around. We met owner David Sonneberg at the Le Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly to taste his pinotages as well as his other red and white wines. David says pinotage is like Marmite, either you love it or you hate it. I love Marmite but I’ve never quite gotten around to liking pinotage. Pinotage is uniquely South African, developed there by a professor who wanted a grape that could withstand the South African climate. He crossed cinsault and pinot noir to come up with pinotage. We tried the Diemersfontein 2007 pinotage and the 2009 pinotage. David’s pinotages are different from the rest in that he aims to produce pinotages that have chocolate and coffee flavours and aromas. He came onto the scene in 2001 with his pinotage and that flavour profile has gained his pinotages quite a following.  I quite liked the 2007 pinotage. Give a wine a bit of age and it can do wonders for it. This pinotage while still showing some smoky coffee, had loads of cherries and blueberries, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate to it with lots of nice round tannins at work. Finally a pinotage that didn’t make me instantly wrinkle my nose as soon as I smelled it. Pinotage is often accused of having burnt, pongy flavours and while David’s wines did not have a pongy character to them, the 2009 was overpoweringly smoky. Give this one a few years to mellow out. Of his whites, the best was certainly the Diemersfontein 2008 chenin blanc. Chenin is another varietal that South Africa seems to be...

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Warwick Estate, S. African wine I like!

“Denise, there has been a slight change in our lunch plans today. Could you please call us? ” That was the first voice mail that greeted me on a recent Monday morning. I knew it was all that damn Icelandic volcano’s fault even before I returned the call. I was supposed to be attending a tasting and lunching with a Burgundy white wine producer that afternoon but I had a niggling feeling that lunch was going to have to be rescheduled due to the flight ban caused by the volcanic ash spewing into European air space. Rebecca,the PR rep, was very apologetic and to make up for the cancelled lunch offered me a lunch and tasting with James Dare, the stranded marketing director  of South African winery, Warwick Estate as a substitute. Much as the French winemaker couldn’t fly in, no one could fly out. James was stuck here until flights resumed. I’d gone from  a white Burgundy lunch to a S.African lunch in the space of two seconds. I was a bit hesitant because as many of you may know, I’m not a big fan of S.African wines but agreed because lately I have had some positive SA wine experiences and was curious to see what Warwick Estate had to offer. Lunch was at the delightful Islington restaurant, Frederick’s just off the high street. Walking in, it’s an oasis of calm with a lovely garden which is where we were seated. We sat down and James proceeded to give me a brief history of Warwick Estate as well as the Stellenbosch region since I wasn’t very well informed on the whole region.  Originally a fruit farm, in 1902 it was bought by Colonel Willam Alexander Gordon of the Warwickshire Regiment, converted into a vineyard and renamed Warwick Estate in honour of the regiment.  In 1964 the estate was bought by Stan and Norma Ratcliffe. The couple decided to plant cabernet. At first the grapes produced were sold to neighbouring wineries but Norma found...

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SAAM 2006 Koopmanskraal Shiraz and roast loin of venison

Bisol prosecco and Eatlikeagirl ran a competition not long ago to find the best prosecco and food pairing. I entered but sadly didn’t even make the final (hey, I’m a wine blogger not a chef). Food Urchin won with his dish of Warm Winter Salad with Pheasant. Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about a competition that I didn’t even make into the Final Five. Well, early one Monday morning I got a DM on Twitter, “Fancy being my plus 1 for dinner tonite, Art can’t make it.” Turns out Eatlikeagirl’s BF had to bail at the last minute so I was called to fill in at the winner’s dinner. Lucky me! Niamh was there as Bisol’s representative and I got to tag along. The prize was an 8 course meal with wine pairings at the Chef’s Table at Trinity Restaurant in Clapham Common. One of the wines paired with our main of Roast Loin of Venison with red wine braised shallot, figs and pistacio was the Saam Mountain “Kooopmanskrail” Shiraz, Paarl, 2006. I’m not usually a big fan of South African wine but this shiraz was  a delightful companion. A savoury, bacon nose with hints of spices peeking through. A deep almost inky colour, on the palate it was all soft and silky round tannins, black pepper and sweet, ripe black  fruits rolling around. I thought the wine was a nice partner to the venison, a lovely dark fruitiness mingling with the venison and a chocolaty finish that seemed to last until the next bite. I could write about the entire meal but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, the other 7 courses were also excellently paired by Trinity’s sommelier, Rupert Taylor. SAAM Mountain is one delicious South African wine that retails for about £11 online from Bibendum-wine.co.uk Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wine in a (peli)can

Last week was the London International Wine Fair and what a fair! I love going to this event. Checking out all the new products, finding new wines, revisting old favorites, talking to producers  or just admiring the sleek bottles, artfully arranged, sparkling under the Excel Center lights. Walking into that place, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Remember that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when the kids are let loose in the candy garden? I know exactly how those kids felt.  I didn’t know where to turn or which stand to go to first. It really can be a bit heart-stopping. First stop was a Friui tasting seminar that I’d signed up for earlier in the week. Lately I’ve been really interested in  Italian wines so I thought this would be an interesting seminar. It would have been if the speaker didn’t insist on speaking in a heavily accented dry monotone. The Friulis, from Northern Italy were mostly light and fruity with a striking tone of  minerality that I really enjoyed running thru all the samples we tasted. The most interesting thing that I came across from the show was the new brand Wild Pelican, wine in a can. According to their website, …”Our aim was to differentiate from the wine in cans already on the market…by taking a consumer perspective…creating a brand that allows (them) to explore some of the best wines…” in the world. So far, so good. What’s differentiates this brand from others, is that the wines are still, not sparkling. Caroline, the rep, gave me a couple of cans to take home and try. I have to admit, it’s a bit unsettling to pop open a can of wine but once it’s poured into the glass, you’d never know the difference. These are very well made wines. The first was a chenin blanc from S. Africa. Now, you know I’m not a big fan of S. African wines but this one was clean and...

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