High Timber for a South African tasting. This time it was for #braaiday, a food and wine evening organised by Wines of South Africa.
With a mixture of wine writers and merchants, there was no set agenda - just a bunch of wines to taste and discuss over a South African dinner.
South Africa has perhaps the same image problem in this country as Australia - seen more as a "value" than "classic" region, it is a place to go for cheap, usually discounted, fruity stuff at the supermarket that detracts from attempts to make more serious wines.
But with everything on show retailing above £10 - and in some cases up to £60 - there was no lack of ambition here.
And the wines were generally good-to-impressive, with a couple that hold their own against top European classics - in price as well as quality.
In general, all the wines were well made - but I struggled with some varieties and simply did not enjoy the Chenins, Pinotage and my old nemesis Pinot Noir as much as the others - even if they ticked plenty of boxes from a technical perspective.
Here, then, is a personal summary of the ones I liked best.
Chamonix, Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2010 (£12.95, Stone, Vine & Sun) toasty pungent oak, ripe tropical citrus, long palate and well-balanced
Dombeya Chardonnay 2011 (£12.95, Lea & Sandeman) toasty, oaky nose, pear drops, ripe orchard fruit, oatmealy nutty savouriness, good acidity
Chris Alheit Cartology 2011 (£22, Handford Wines, SA Wines Online) mainly Chenin from 4 different vineyards plus a dash of old-vine Semillon. Ripe orchard fruit, incredible waxy, leesy texture, very long on the palate, complex and mouthfilling with fresh acidity. Very Good.
AA Badenhorst Funky White NV 37.5cl (£14.50 Swig) a blend of varieties fermented under flor in a solera system. More Jura than Sherry for me, sharp and cidery with a flavour of apple flesh and minerality, plus a Manzanilla tang - definitely interesting and different. Good.
MR de Compostella 2009 (£39.99 Handford Wines) blend of CF, CS, Malbec, PV, Merlot; peppery spice, ripe elderberry, savoury and long. Good.
De Toren Fusion V 2010 (£35, Swig) blend of CS, Merlot, Malbec, CF, PV pepper, spice, pencil shavings, good structure.
Haskell II Haskell Vineyards 2009 (£21.50, Lea & Sandeman) a blend of Shiraz, Cab, Mourvedre; smokey, dark fruit, slightly feral, Languedoc-esque, with sour cherry fruit and minerality
Mullineux Schist Syrah 2010 (£58.95 Handford Wines) feral nose with complex pepperiness, sour cherry acidity, dark fruits, savouriness, complexity and poise, northern Rhone-esque. Great length. Very Good Indeed (if not such great value).
Guardian Peak Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (£17.99 SA Wines Online) ripe and spicy with good acidity, earthiness and black cherry fruit. Elegant and precise.
The Foundry Syrah 2007 (£22.95 Vagabond Wines) good ripe elderberry fruit, fresh acidity, savouriness. Feels significantly overpriced, however.
White: Cartology for its savouriness and length or Funky White for a Jura-esque walk on the wild side.
Red: Mullineux Schist Syrah if your rich uncle is paying; the MR de Compostella if even he baulks at the price. Otherwise the Guardian Peak Lapa Cab if it's your own hard-earned pennies.
Other related articles
Oldenberg at High Timber
7Springs at The Cambridge Tasting
Arabella Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2008, South Africa - Naked Wines
Heather Doughty's review - here.
Cooksister's native viewpoint - here.
#braaiday on twitter - https://twitter.com/search?q=%23braaiday
Wines of South Africa - twitter, website
Handford Wines - twitter
Lea And Sandeman - twitter
SA Wines Online - twitter
Stone, Vine & Sun - twitter
Swig - twitter
Vagabond Wines - twitter
High Timber - twitter