Well we didn’t have to wait long for that Barack Bacchus Bounce. Writing in today’s New York Times Eric Asimov announces “forgive me if I’m excited, but I can’t help it. I want to tell you straight out that South Africa, of all places, is one of the greatest sources for moderately priced Cabernet Sauvignon on the planet today.” Based on a tasting of 25 wines purchased in the New York area, Asimov advises readers “if you like Cabernets that are balanced, with a sense of structure and shape, that are indisputably Cabernet Sauvignon with flavors of cassis and violets, cedar and minerals, then you are going to love these wines.”
Eric’s top Cab was a De Trafford 2004 (4/4 stars, $32) and Jean Engelbrecht’s Rust en Vrede 2004 (3/4 stars, $27). Jean was in fine form at Alan Pick’s Sunday birthday bash, dispensing his Rust en Vrede estate blend 2004 from 27 litre bottles.
Asimov is singing from the same hymn sheet as UK pundit Tim Atkin who reports in this month’s Off License News “I used to think Syrah was the Cape’s outstanding red variety, but these days it has serious competition from Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Pity Tim’s recent Christmas tasting tour didn’t take in Breedekloof or Calitzdorp or he’d have found his wish “someone would plant hot climate varieties such as Touriga Naçional” has already been answered as denizens of the Dias Tavern, who’ve been glugging the excellent valued Tourigas of Carel and Boets Nel for years, will confirm in between mouthfulls of feijoada.
But has the rubber tide (or perception thereof) at last turned? Tim notes the reds among the “in excess of 600 wines from 96 producers” of his recent trip had “far less of the green/burnt rubber character that has been much criticized in the UK” although not everyone will agree that “Syrah rarely displays these characteristics.”
Underlining just how subjective individual opinions are, Atkin lists Boekenhoutskloof first in his best wineries established since Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. But for Asimov, the Boekenhoutskloof 2006 (one of only two five star stunners in Platter 2009) is damned as “at $47, the most expensive wine in our tasting. While the winemaker is critically acclaimed, we rejected the wine for its generic vanilla-cherry cheesecake flavors, which I often taste in New World red wines that are intended to please an international audience.” A bad bottle, perhaps?