My wine tasting group has not tried Pinotage yet, so I though it would be appropriate to introduce this unique South African varietal to them. Spier is well known and produces several different cuvees, ranging from the lighter everyday wines to blockbuster collectables. This one is middle of the road and offers a glimpse into the style of wine that can be enjoyed over time. Quite brooding and inky it has a funky nose with forest floor, tar, licorice, fresh cut wood, plantain, creamy coffee, Sel Gris and blackberry. On the palate it exhibited textbook flavors of coffee, blackberry, Rooibos tea, baked raspberry, blueberry, acetate and raisin. The word jammy was used. Tannins were medium as was the acidity. This cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault is much darker and intense than either of its parents, which surprised many in the group. Overall it was well received and got 91 points from me. We paid $36 per bottle making it a 5 star effort that can be drunk now or cellared till 2026. Salut….
Another of my mate Johnny’s wines, this was a stunner. Simply breathtaking. A Bordeaux Blend with depth, richness and staying power. Deep purple in the glass with a rich and layered nose of gorgeous cassis, mint, stewed blackcurrants, cooked blueberry, coffee, smoke and cloves. Stunning. On the palate it is full bodied with well melded tannins, good acidity and complexity with flavors of blackberry, mint, tar, oak by way of smoke, clove and a medicinal note. There’s a touch of bitterness on the back end to remind me that the tannins are still young. This wine is well developed but has years ahead with potential for tertiary development. I’m excited to have tried it and wish I could get more to watch for development. 93 points and at $45 it’s a 5 star effort. Drink till 2028. Well done! Salut….
I enjoy Pinotage quite a bit. It’s a grape that was created by cloning Pinot Noir and Cinsault. This one is semi opaque and a lovely shade of purple in the glass. The nose gives me chocolate, espresso bean and blackberry. On the palate it is very fruity with black currants, black cherry and dare I say- coffee. There is a richness to this wine that I am really enjoying, full bodied with rounded tannins and good acidity. The mid palate goes old school with some smoke, dust, jerky and brooding dark fruit. I am missing the acetone flavors I normally associate with this varietal, it’s kind of unique. The back end is dry, dusty and has nice tannins to finish. I like this wine and would pair it with almost any meat dish, perhaps even pasta. 89 points from me with a drink till 2025 window. At $21 it gets 3 stars. Salut….
Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It was cultivated in 1925 in South Africa, where it is the signature grape. This one is bright purple in the glass and is 75% opaque. The nose has black cherry, red licorice and a hint of Hoisin. The palate is textbook- tar, black cherry, blackberry and a medicinal hint. The tannins are very prominent right off the bat, coating my gums with dry grit. The mid palate offers additional flavors of mocha, espresso and more black fruit. The finish is appealing with a shot of acidity that rights the ship, bringing the tannins back in line. The flavor profile changes somewhat to a more red-fruit driven one, think sour cherries but with a minerality. The finish is decent in length and the tannic structure of this wine asks for a fatty cut of meat. My pairing is going to be Braised Lamb Shanks with sautéed Swiss chard and boiled carrots. 88 points for this wine that will drink till 2026. At $23, it gets 3 stars from me. Salut….
Pinotage is an interesting grape to me. I’m excited for this South African wine that is bright purple in the glass and semi opaque. On the nose it has telltale tar and blackberry notes. The palate is rich with sweet blackberries, bramble, earthy dust and that tar component I get so often with this varietal. The mid palate has some cola, sassafras and more black fruit. It’s got lithe tannins that build but never overtake the fruit. There’s a nice acidity but it’s not overly done. The earthiness of this wine is something to behold, it’s got a gamey note to boot. I really like the way it finishes with a flurry of different flavors wrapped in an easy drinking package. The structure encourages short term drinking so get popping. I’m paring it with leftover Kebabs and fried potatoes. 90 points for this $20 gem make it a 5 star wine for me! Salut….
Inky and opaque is this Bordeaux blend. On the nose I am treated to a melange of cassis, plums, blackberry and delicious oak. The palate is exactly what I was hoping for- rich, warm and layered with all those black fruits, very integrated tannins and a mound of acidity. This wine is very powerful and thick with fruit flavors, balancing doses of tannin and acidity and just the right amount of wood to make it very pleasing. The mid palate gets quite a bit more focused on the structure of the wine- the acidity really playing hell with my jaw and the tannins really starting to grip. If you’re looking for an unabashed wine that will pair well with game, grilled Ribeyes or a heavy pasta dish- this is it. The finish reminds me of young Claret, the fruit being masked by the power of the structural components. It will cellar nicely till 2030. 92 points from me for this $22 stunner that gets 5 stars. Salut….
This South African Chenin is a bright gold color in the glass. On the nose I get flowers, melon, ripe plantain and a pink grapefruit note. The palate is very round and enticing. Flavors of melon, banana parfait, a touch of citrus and apple are all caressing my mouth. This wine really fills with flavor and body for a great mouthfeel. The mid palate is soft and continues the fruit melange theme. The long (30+seconds) finish reminds me of fruit salad with bananas. Fruity, flavorful and satisfying it’s easy to drink this 12.7% alcohol wine. I am really enjoying this it as I roast a Chicken with steamed green beans. It will drink well for a few years and gets 91 whopping points from me. For $18- 5 stars, wish I had more. Salut….
This South African Cab is a dark shade of reddish purple and is semi opaque. The nose is steeped in dark fruit compote, a touch of mint perhaps and coffee bean. The initial palate is very smooth with some nice blackberry notes along with espresso and chocolate powder. Very gentle, lithe tannins make it very easy to drink but conversely- it lacks structure for the long haul. The mid palate is more blueberry and plum. The finish is very fruity with nice black and blue berries to go with vanilla. There is a hint of oak influence that I am enjoying. The mouthfeel is really pleasing and I am thoroughly enjoying this wine as an aperitif. It will pair nicely with lighter fare and drink well till 2024. 89 points from me and 4 stars for this $13 effort. Salut….
It’s a rich shade of purple with thick legs and an opaque hue. The nose is fresh, briny and full of purple fruits. On the palate I get primal black berries, dark cherry and iodine laced oak. The mid palate is fruity, juicy and shows off a slight tannic bite. The dark fruits are well at play and overshadow the structural components. The finish has a nice crunchy set of tannins that interplay with the fruit and acidity. This wine is a touch green but I am enjoying it’s youth and basic fruitiness. It has some structure for the short to medium term cellaring but I feel it won’t evolve too much. This is a very decent everyday drinker that will serve well against burgers, ribs, pasta and pizza. It gets 87 points from me and for $9 it’s a 3 star wine. Drink till 2022. Salut…
As with the past seven Virtual Wine tastings, it’s difficult for me to objectively write a review and run the tasting, so I take basic notes of what others are tasting and smelling.
This Chenin Blanc kicked off the evening with us tasting it at room temperature followed by a chilled glass of the same wine. It’s really amazing how the wine morphs when served at different temps. The one thing that is constant is the color- in this case a light golden shade, really pretty in the glass. The warm version gave us melon, fruity lemon, pear, citrus, stone fruit and green apple on the nose. The palate notes are ‘very fruity’, citrusy, tangerine, oakiness, lime and yellow apple.
The chilled version was a bit muted but introduced Brioche, minerality, piecrust, toast, green pepper, slightly more acidity and ‘crisp’.
Keep in mind there were 8 different bottles being served in different environments- some inside and some outside all up and down the east coast. My overall impression was that I enjoyed the room temp glass more as it was open for business and the nose and palate were fuller. I am going with 90 points and 5 stars for this $18 effort. Drink till 2024 with seafood, perhaps a grilled Salmon filet. Salut….