What are you drinking this season?

Out to Impress

Cinsaut is making something of a comeback. That’s partly driven by a growing understanding of how important the grape was in some of the older South African wines that are achieving almost cult status. Very Important International Palates that taste old Nederburg, Zonnebloem, Lanzerac and Chateau Libertas wines compare them very favourably to famous French wines from the same period. And the experts believe that cinsaut plays a critical role in keeping that fifty or sixty year old wine still so fresh and alive. The renaissance is also driven by a younger generation that wants to make wines that are different from what was made by a previous cohort. In wine geek circles there is debate about whether cinsaut works best as a stand-alone grape or as a blending partner; and, if the former, whether it makes wine with sufficient gravitas to be considered great. But for a generation of drinker that cares more about drinkability than longevity or label status, there is an increasing number of cinsaut or cinsaut-led wines that give great pleasure. None more so than the Naudé Old Vines 2014. It is an exceptionally attractive wine full of bright, delicate cherry and red berry aromas and flavours. The sort of wine that renders debate about its ageability moot - because it is so damn drinkable in its youth. R200 – available via info@adorowines.co.za

Dinner Party 

There was a time when opening a bottle of KWV Roodeberg for guests was a quasi-political act. And refusing to drink a glass was equally a statement about more than the quality of what was in it. The wine was only available via a quota, and that quota was only extended to people and companies that were grace and favour holders in the National Party establishment. Those days are (thankfully) behind us. In 2015, opening a bottle of Roodeberg indicates no more than a modest wine buying budget and an eye for quality. It’s been a long time since the Roodeberg was the apex KWV wine – that honour is now held by the increasingly interesting Mentors Range. But Roodeberg remains an expertly-crafted blend, offering interest and quality way above the price point. There are six named varietals in the 2013 blend, plus 3% other. Cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and merlot are the dominant trio and meld with the minor partners in perfect harmony. There’s plum and cherry and chocolate and spice and cigar box and lots of other good things. There’s balance and fruit purity and complexity. But, most impressively of all, there is Value with a capital V. R65

Everyday

It is extremely rare to find really cheap wines that not only taste better than their price point, but don’t taste cheap at all. Such a recent find is the Mount Vernon Unbelievable White. The name was prompted by the favourite adjective of rugby commentator, Hugh Bladen, who is a great fan of the wine. The packaging is distinctive – the clear bottle identified only by the cardboard neck tag attached by an elastic band, and proclaiming the wine to be ‘uncertified, unlabelled, unbelievable’. The idea is to stand out from the competition on the shelf, and there is an environmental benefit. There is no glue used, and that makes the bottle more recyclable. It’s a chenin blanc, and proof again of how versatile and forgiving this cultivar is. The wine is crisp and fresh, with a level of fruit purity and balance that is really unusual for entry level wines. The alcohol is a low 12%, and the wine is much drier than is common for this price point – a residual sugar level of only 2%. How good is it? Well, in The Ultra Value Wine Challenge earlier this year, with all the entries tasted blind, it outscored, by some margin, wines at four times the price. It’s very good, and at a retail price of R25 – it is UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!

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