A pleasant purple with medium density. On the nose I get plums, a faint hint of cinnamon, black cherry and creosote thanks to the 9% addition of Pinotage. The balance is Cabernet Sauvignon. The initial taste is very Pinotage heavy, with more plums, some dark fruits and the telltale chemical note, often likened to nail polish remover. I like it. The wine transitions nicely and some very delightful tannins caress throughout. The flavor profile doesn’t change much throughout and the acidity is very fine, barely noticeable. The finish is relatively long, with the dark fruit balancing nicely with a hint of oak. The bitterness of the tannins is apparent right at the end but is not detracting. This is a tasty weekday wine that I would pop with stew, chili, grilled sausages and even burgers. 89 points and 4 stars for this $11 wine. Salut….
I recently wrote about the 2013 Faithful Hound, so when I caught some of the 2014 on sale, I grabbed a few. Retailing for $18, it’s a good parallel to the Bordeaux style blends that I so truly love. This one has a dark purple complexion, just like it’s older sister. The nose is gorgeous- plums, bramble, chocolate, some oak and a blueberry component. On the palate, much darker fruits than expected. More of the blackberry and currants theme with some violets. The mid palate is bone dry with tannins popping out and caressing the gums. The finish is blackberry, tar and those delightful tannins. The mouthfeel on this wine is great, built for steaks or the pasta with meatballs and sausage I am about to serve. This wine will cellar well, it has al the right components. I really hope it can evolve with secondary flavors like it’s French cousins. Drink till 2025. 90 points and 4 stars for this gem from SA. Salut….
My father asked me what I wanted for Christmas. He has 3 sons, 2 daughter-in-laws and 5 grand kids. I wanted something that would not bankrupt the man, but would mean something to me. I told him “a bottle of wine”. He hit it, right on the head with this banger. I am so surprised at this wine and am super happy that my dad got it for me.
In case you haven’t read my notes about Pinotage, I love this varietal. It is a quirky oddball only found in Afrique du Sud and made really well in Stellenbosch.
Reddish purple in the glass with a nose of tar, beautiful violets, black plums and a really nice hint of blueberry right at the and. On the initial attack I get blueberry pie, some tar, cherry and plum jam. The mid palate yields some very entrenched tannins that come out of hiding and balance the acidity. More plums hit after the tannins and they lead you into a really nice dry finish of vanilla, coffee bean, and berry. Really good, a delicious wine. 91 points and at a shocking price point of $15 this is my first 5 star wine of the year. Kudos to dad for popping this bad boy under the tree, he has hit wine nirvana. I drank it with braised Beef ribs and purple potatoes. Heaven! I hope you have a wine that has significant meaning that hits it on all cylinders too. Salut….
Nearly black in complexion showed me that this is a very extracted wine. The nose is somewhat muted but a few swirls in the glass begin to reveal some black cherries and the telltale tar/creosote that makes Pinotage so unique. It is a cross breed of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut only found in South Africa.
The first taste is all I expected. Smoke, bramble and cherry hints are all present. Licorice presents itself halfway through. The wine offers a short burst of tannin followed by that tarry mid palate taste that I really enjoy from this varietal. It has a nice mouthfeel, crossing from the tannic thrust over to a slightly tart acidic finish that carries some earthy components. I like this wine a lot. The 14.5% alcohol is well masked, making this a great pairing with some grilled beef. I would drink this over the next 5 years at the least. 91 points and 4 stars for this $38 offering. Salut….
Back in March of this year Moxie and I went to a charity event where we bid on several interesting items in the silent auction. One of our winning bids was a Chef’s Table dinner for 8 at Seasons 52 in McLean, Virginia. We invited some good friends to join us and drove like lemmings to where the GPS took us. Not until then did we realize that the restaurant was in the mall, of all places. Not sure what we had gotten ourselves into, we traipsed into the bustling shopping center, all dressed up in our Saturday evening gear. Once we reached the restaurant it all became clear. Our table was well inside the restaurant, away from the madding crowd, secluded and curtained off from peering eyes. We were introduced to several chefs and given a rundown of what to expect. With each course, the chef in charge would come out and give us a brief outline of the dish. The beauty of the whole thing was not having to worry about ordering. Every plate, morsel and combination was delicious, fresh, unique and enjoyed by all. Our waiter was great and helped make a few of the wine selections. Sauvignon Blanc for some, Cabernet for others. The dinner lasted well over 2 hours, the balance of the plates with the wine and friendship was amazing and well worth the money and the wait. We will no doubt be back for another Saturday evening soiree.
The first bottle we ordered was this Bordeaux blend from Stellenbosch. It was magnificent. A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc & 4% Petit Verdot make this a Left Bank clone if ever I saw one. My style of vino without a doubt. My notes had to be discrete as Moxie kept nudging me when I had my phone out…. Short smooth black and blue fruit nose from a dark purple glass. Bordeaux-like with plums, cola, cassis, herbs and smooth tannins with mild acidity. I gave it 92 points with a drinking window of 2014-2020. WS gave it 91, close enough. I found it online for about $50 making it a 3 star wine technically but I’m gonna give it 4 because it hit on all cylinders for me. If you see it on a wine list, don’t be shy to order this well integrated beauty. Salut….
A South African wine from Stellenbosch with huge credentials. It’s a joint venture between Bruno Prats (formerly of Cos D’Estournel), Hubert de Bouard (Chateau Angelus) and Lowell Jooste of Klein Constantia. Each of these men’s wineries are world renowned and highly respected. I got the offer by e-mail to pick up a few bottles from my local distributor so I jumped in, each priced at about $40.
A vibrant purple greeted me along with a nose of hoisin and plums. Some cassis became apparent after a swirl which really excited me. Straight out of the blocks- this is a young wine with some cellaring potential still to go. Primal fruit flavors of plum, blueberry and rooibos tea came through behind the veil of youngish tannins and acidity. Coffee notes and some oak were apparent after some time in the glass. The wine reminds me so much of Meerlust Rubicon, perhaps the terroir plays a role. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz and 5% Merlot- an interesting combo if I might say so. The bottle says it has a drinking window between 2014-2016. I am gonna go a step further and say it will last another 5 years at least (2019). I think it is worthy of 91 points versus the pro’s at 89. Pricy for an everyday drinker it will do well with a Sunday roast as the weather cools down. A big Ribeye would also complement the tannic structure to a T if you’re in a grilling mood. 4 stars from me. Salut….
I have spent the past five weeks on a training course in Hong Kong, paired up with my friend ‘The Beave’. Last night was our last proper dinner before the course ends and he decided on a steak house for the gang. There were 10 of us and we proceeded to order copious amounts of beer before dinner as we settled in to our boys night out. I ordered Lamb Cutlets when we were seated and was promptly handed the wine list by some eager Steak eaters. I chose this Stellenbosch Pinotage as I figured it would have the flavor to hold up to to the Lamb and Mint sauce in addition to being smooth enough for the others Filets.
I really enjoy well made Pinotage and have been on a mission to seek it out as much as possible. This wine was no exception. It was a dark purple offering that had plum aromas and a touch of cedar on the nose. The first taste confirmed my choice as correct. This wine exploded with dark plums and black cherries with some good oak integration. Spicebox and sandalwood came through on the mid palate and the tannins were fine and refreshing. A balanced mouthfeel is always appreciated and the acidity was ever so slight yet present. The weight of the wine was perfect for the mint sauce and the boys really enjoyed theirs with the steaks. Restaurants always gouge on the prices so I will go with the retail pricing of about $17. I feel this is a 90 point wine worth seeking out, 4 stars from me. Salut….
This bottle was brought to the weekend retreat by my mate, we’ll call him Johnny. He originally introduced me to Pinotage and I have been a fan ever since. This particular bottle is a ‘Private Collection’ from Stellenbosch that could be had for $25.
Dark and lurking in the glass it offered up generous fruit on the nose. On the first taste it was different from other Pinotages- more serious, complex and richer. I instantly thought of black fruits and figs. Rich oak and a delightful tannin backbone are interlaced with some great acidity. The wine blossomed and offered up some secondary flavors of licorice and earth. A thoroughly enjoyable wine that kicked the flank steaks into high gear. If you have some spare cash and want to broaden your reach, Pinotage is becoming a must-try in my book, this example being rather terrific. 90 points and 5 stars from me. Salut….
A friend brought this wine to the table, straight from her visit to South Africa. A Shiraz from the Stellenbosch region that I found out costs about $9. We were sitting outside on a warm humid evening in very low light so I could not really see the color. The nose was very impressive: layers of plum, oak, spice and blueberry. Alas, very thin and watery on the palate. A huge disappointment as I was relishing the flavors I had already smelt. I coaxed the plum and berry components out, and managed to enjoy the wine once I got over the weight. The overall impression was that this could have been a really good wine, the acidity, balance and tannins were all lined up. 2 stars and 82 points.
An indigenous South African grape that had bad press for many years- Spier has made the climb from the ‘bad wine abyss’ and is on track to make Pinotage a formidable variety. Crossed between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, you can only find it in SA. During Apartheid, the varietal took a slide in quality and reputation. It’s been a battle ever since, but I have faith. I have had other Spier Pinotages, this being their entry-level offering.
On the nose, bing cherry in syrup. On the palate, I can feel heat amongst the plum and cedar shavings. Weighing in at 14.5%, I’m a little surprised. Tannins are evident, giving this wine a structure to evolve for at least 5 years. I would love to re-taste in a few years as I feel it will evolve towards earthy minerality, which excites me. For the price, a definite 4 star wine. If I were a pro, probably 88 points. Juicy, go and try some…..