The Platter wine guide is a bit like Bill Clinton: a cheerful face that has been around for ages but not someone you’d consider hiring as a babysitter. On the very day the Platter Pundits assembled for their annual game of Five Star Russian Roulette, the Times runs a story Wine makers sour over stars. Platter publisher, avuncular Andrew McDowell, attempts to defend the indefensible with the comment “blind tasting is essential for competitions, but the Platter guide is exactly that, a guide — not a competition.”
Duck logic insists that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck”, then as James Whitcomb Riley notes, “I would call it a duck.” If Platter is indeed not a competition, than why the focus on five star stunners, the flurry of press releases and breaking news reports on the Platter-proxy website Grape? SA wine consumers would far rather a list of affordable pleasures, something I was trying to suggest in this week’s Financial Mail.
Meanwhile, a totally scurrilous wine blog has started broadcasting that has the industry in uproar. Commentators, lawyers and anoraques will be watching with interest.
The Financial Mail story:
WINE magazine may have raised the maximum retail price for inclusion in its annual Best Value Wine Guide by 20% to R60, but at the same time a red tide of quality wines is being discounted by retailers such as www.getwine.co.za.
The online “shop” is clearing out the cellars of Tokyo Sexwale’s latest Durbanville acquisition: Bloemendal Estate.
The 2002 cabernet and shiraz are both marked down from R72/bottle to R49, and both were rated four (out of five) stars by the Platter guide (four stars translates from anorak to English as “excellent”).
In 2004, CBS’s 60 Minutes reported that “ten years ago, he was rallying the masses toward victory for the Communist Party. Today SA has a burgeoning black bourgeoisie with Tokyo Sexwale its most promising member.” Now, Sexwale is discounting reds to the masses. And he’s not the only one.
A marathon tasting trip around the winelands at the end of June – 4 000 km driven, 75 wineries visited, more than 500 wines tasted – revealed an embarrassment of riches in the national cellar.
The Financial Mail favourites:
A case of off-the-beaten-track reds (sorted by price):
Slanghoek Winery Camerca 2007: R21/bottle. Light, easy drinking cabernet/merlot blend. Tel: (023) 344-3026.
Riebeek Cellars Barbarossa Cabernet 2005: R25. Big and hairy like its pirate namesake. Tel: (022) 448-1213.
Rooiberg Winery African Dawn Cabernet 2006: R26. Fresh and fruity with excellent intensity. Tel: (023) 626-1663.
Wamakersvallei Winery Bain’s Way Merlot 2007: R27,50. Spice, olives and meat, very fruity. Tel: (021) 873-1582.
Mooiplaas Berry Red 2007: R27,50. Blerry good house red. Tel: (021) 903-6273.
Simonsig Adelberg 2006: R30. Serious kuierwyn (wine for socialising), savoury with plenty of vanilla. Tel: (021) 888-4900.
Doolhof Cape Roan 2006: R35. Powerful in-your-face shiraz blend. Tel: (021) 873-6911.
De Meye Little River Cabernet 2005: R38. Super intensity with good balance. Tel: (021) 884-4131.
Overgaauw Shepherd’s Cottage 2006: R39. Entry-level Overgaauw cabernet/merlot with grip and chewy tannins. Tel: (021) 881-3815.
De Krans Tempranillo 2006: R40. Upside-down exclamation marks galore for Spain’s wild grape, grown in the Klein Karoo. Tel: (044) 213-3314.
Kranskop Merlot 2006: R45. Impressive intensity and grip. Tel: (023) 626-3200.
Goedverwacht Triangle 2005: R50. Classic Bordeaux blend with an exotic nose and intense red berry flavours. Tel: (021) 646-3430.
PS. I have no commercial connections with any of the above producers, distributors or retailers.