Cape Wine 2008 pays dividends

Neil Pendock February 12, 2009 2

Dividends from Cape Wine 2008, last year’s industry haal uit en wys (show and tell), are rolling in like bonus payments to city investment bankers. The latest is a Top 50 from Matthew Jukes, wine writer for the Daily Mail, who was one of the most conscientious tasters at CW2008. But this is no laundry list – the picks are idiosyncratic (albeit expensive, ranging from £6 to £50) and there are some killer tasting notes. Whites dominate: seven each to Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc; six Chardonnays and five white blends.

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1. Graham Beck Blancs de Blanc, Robertson, 2005, £12.99
“This was the most beautiful and rewarding sparkler at Cape Wine and it is still one of the best values in the world.”

2. FirstCape Winemaker’s Selection Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay, Western Cape, 2008, £7.99
“Creamy, smooth, apple pie notes with a stunning, zesty finish – impeccable balance and staggering value for money.”

3. Fish Hoek Chenin Blanc, Riebeek Valley, 2008, £6.29
“This budget Chenin, with its funky label and crowd-pleasing flavours has set the pace for innovators in South Africa – inspirational on every level.”

4. Raats Original Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, 2008, £6.99
“Bruwer’s entry level wine now carries so much class and granite-soaked minerality that it would be anyone else’s flagship Chenin Blanc. Ignore it at your peril.”

5. Reyneke Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2008, £13.50
“A swirling vortex of crisp, grippy, lemon pith-scented Chenin, with a mineral edge that virtually slices through your tongue.”

6. Graham Beck Gamekeeper’s Reserve Chenin Blanc, Franschoek, 2008
“Without pushing these old vines too much Peter Ferreira has coaxed the perfect amount of intensity and magic from this Chenin – a marvellous advert for this variety.”

7. Rudera Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2007, £12.95
“Another wonderful expression of Chenin, with hazelnut, lemon balm and nougat notes and a stunning texture.”

8. Ken Forrester The FMC, Stellenbosch, 2007, £17.95
“With masses of over the top fruit and a veritable tidal wave of waxy honey and lemon curd this is a flamboyant wine for flamboyant wine lovers everywhere.”

9. Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc, Walker Bay, 2007, £9.99
“Bracing purity and palate-scouring acidity make this wine an essential accompaniment to a plateau de fruits de mer. Other wines try too hard – Southern Right obliterates them with sniper-like accuracy.”

10. Iona Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin, 2008, £12.49
“This Sauvignon improves every year and every year it is in my line-up of greats. The integrity of fruit and devastating minerality are both breathtaking.”

11. Waterford Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2008, £11.70
“Great Sauvignon does not need alcohol to propel it along as Waterford shows us beautifully with only 12.5% under its bonnet. A happy-go-lucky wine with a sudden, rapier-like finish.”

12. Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc, Walker Bay, 2008, £10.99
“There is a vivacity and lift to this wine that sets it apart from the pack and it would amaze the rest of the New World and surely send shivers down their spines, too!”

13. Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run Sauvignon Blanc, Franschoek, 2008, £11.99
“Explosive gooseberry fruit heralds the arrival of this nerve-jangling Sauvignon. It electrocutes your palate then soothes it with plunge-pool accuracy.”

14. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2008, £14.99
“The skinsy grip and dramatic lemon and lime fruit in this wine knock you for six and you must whip up some pretty smart spicy food ASAP for fear of missing one of life’s great experiences.”

15. Klein Constantia Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia, 2008, £13.50
“From the pea shoot and asparagus spear school of Sauvignon Blanc this is a brilliant wine and one that must be drunk with serious Asian-fusion cuisine.”

16. Newton Johnston White Blend, Walker Bay, 2008, £9.99
“The flintiness in this Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blend is thirst-quenching and where it could have ended up fat and ponderous, the finish is uplifting and joyous – a very exciting wine!”

17. Tokara White, Stellenbosch, 2007, £20.99
“Tokara’s finest wine to date is this devastating Sauv / Sem. World class poise and intricate build. An haut couture creation.”

18. Black Rock White Blend, Winery of Good Hope, Perdeberg Swartland, 2007, £12.00
“Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier rarely have the chance to cavort together, but when they are as stunningly entwined as they are in this wine it is a wonder that so few winemakers try it. Alex Dale seasons this union with a touch of oak, too, making it utterly irresistible.“

19. Porcupine Ridge Viognier / Grenache Blanc, Coastal Region, 2007, £7.99
“Sometimes the most delicious wines are made from unlikely blends and with an irreverent air. Sod it, let’s try this! Sometimes it works very well indeed!”

20. Radford Dale Viognier, Winery of Good Hope, Stellenbosch, 2007, £16.00
“This Viognier is another exercise in restraint and then release. The nose crowds your senses gleefully and then the straight-jacketed palate clams are all down, only for the finish to rush, giddy and screaming down your cakehole. It is so much fun and so lovely to see Viognier enjoying itself for once.”

21. Flagstone Viognier, Western Cape, 2008, £9.99
“An Elim / Elgin cocktail makes for an icicle sharp style of Viognier and it works SO well. Fit and lithe and yet sultry and intriguing – a perfect piece of blending.”

22. Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer, Elgin, 2008, £9.00
“This Elgin-based centre of excellence makes the Cape’s finest Gewurz with effortless skill. So well-balanced is this wine that you could charge through a few glasses in a moment and then reflect on its beauty for an hour!”

23. Ataraxia Chardonnay, Elgin, 2007
“The apparent lack of oak on this wine is incredible. I know it is there, but the integration is so well-judged that it is in perfect balance. Ataraxia is one of the great white winemaking estates of South Africa.”

24. Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay, Walker Bay, 2007, £22.99
“The temptation to embellish the high tensile, highly regimented flavours of this wine would have been overwhelming (and it may have worked a treat), but I am mightily impressed with the naked purity of this, the finest Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay to date.”

25. Delaire Chardonnay, Stellenbosch, 2007, £8.90
“Sensual, floral fruit, macadamia nut and orchard blossom make this an incredibly clever Chardonnay from the ever-impressive Chris Kelly.”

26. Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve, Franschoek, 2007, £11.99
“Perfect in every way this is wine made with an innate understanding of every facet of taste and tradition. It was a near perfect score in my notes.”

27. Springfield Estate Methode Ancienne Chardonnay, Robertson, 2006, £17.99
“Methode Ancienne is a truthful, no compromise Chardonnay which will only appeal to purists and romantics. The jagged minerality and unconventional beauty here is mesmerising.”

28. Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay, Paarl, 2007, £15.49
“An impactful wine with a fair amount of upholstery, this is a wine for those who understand that big can also be very beautiful.”

29. Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, Walker Bay, 2007, £22.99
“With less overt oak influence and an overall lighter chassis than usual, this is a wine that might confuse fans, but it has swept me off my feet with its undeniable, classically-dimensioned beauty.”

30. Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, Walker Bay, 2007, £19.99
“With more horse-power than my other two Pinots, Galpin Peak is a youthful brute, but there is serious breeding here and this trio is the finest ever from the Cape.”

31. Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve, Franschoek, 2007, £11.99
“One of the most remarkable properties in the country (with three wines making the grade in my ‘long list’), this Pinot is every bit as alluring as the great wines from Otago and Mornington.”

32. FirstCape Limited Release Merlot, Western Cape, 2008, £5.99
“It’s hard enough to make inexpensive red wine at the best of times taste this good, but a Merlot? This is the Cape’s secret red weapon.“

33. Zorgvliet Silver Myn Cabernet Franc, Stellenbosch, 2006
“One of the great value reds on this list, performing miracles with another supposedly fussy grape. We need containers of this in the UK!”

34. Raats Cabernet Franc, Stellenbosch, 2007, £14.99
“I trembled with expectation when this wine was poured into my glass and then almost collapsed in joy when it gave me everything I was hoping for. Phew.”

35. Warwick Estate Trilogy, Stellenbosch, 2006, £18.99
“Trilogy is atoning down the hatches these days and this 2006 is firm and tense and in need of time. However, vigorous swirling reveals snippets of greatness to come. Just have patience.”

36. Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, 2005, £13.99
“Staggering value and sizeable stock make this an omissible wine for both the enthusiastic restaurateur and avid collector.”

37. Rustenberg Peter Barlow, Stellenbosch, 2005, £23.50
“Rustenberg’s Flagship red can often seem brusque and uncommunicative in its youth, but this 2005 is positively magnetic and it radiates charm. This epic initial balance points towards a very long and successful life ahead.”

38. De Toren Fusion V, Stellenbosch, 2006, £23.00
“The bravest Fusion V ever, with lashings of tannin and gobs of structure. This is a brazen wine and it deserves to be feared and adored in equal measure. It will thrill you for years to come.”

39. Rust en Vrede Estate, Stellenbosch, 2004, £22.99
“With 30% Shiraz sneaking into this Cabernet/Merlot the complexity and bravado quotients is at an all time high here. One word – sensational.”

40. Vergelegen V, Somerset West, 2004, £49.99
“Still youthful and belligerent, 04V is a monolithic creation, but one that is up there with the world’s finest Cabernet blends.”

41. Eagle’s Nest Shiraz, Constantia, 2006, £13.91
“A shocker – great value, intense pepperiness, plum and damson fruit and all totally under control with genial tannins and calm alcohol – a result.”

42. Fairview Solitude/ Eenzaamheid Shiraz, Paarl, 2006, £16.99
“Solitude shows dramatic earthiness in place of honed fruit making it a less commercial proposition than many of Charles’s wines, but it is so much more intriguing for it.”

43. Boekenhoutskloof Syrah, Coastal Region, 2006, £25.00
“South Africa’s iconic Syrah might one day miss a beat, but I wouldn’t bet on it. 2006 is as good as it has ever been. A rare treat and a wine to cherish alongside your finest Crus.”

44. Luddite Shiraz, Stellenbosch, 2006, £19.00
“With lusty richness and handfuls of cocoa bean, mulberry and macerated cherry notes, this is a romper stomper of a Shiraz and one that wears its bulk and its bonhomie with style.”

45. Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Syrah/ Mourv’edre, Tulbagh, 2005, £17.50
“One of the most enticing reds of the year, with just the perfect amount of Mourv’edre (13%) to darken and spice up the savoury Syrah.”

46. Spice Route Mourv’edre, Malmesbury, 2006, £9.99
“There are very few Mourvèdres outside of Provence that truly sing and this is one of them, with its dusty, damson and sloe fruit.”

47. Flagstone Writer’s Block Pinotage, Western Cape, 2006, £14.99
“The most expressive Writer’s Block ever has me gushing thank goodness. Seamless, hedgerow and boot polish notes bombard your palate and there isn’t a touch of unwanted earthiness in sight.”

48. L’Avenir Grand Vin Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 2006, £25.99
“With almost Barolo-like, enigmatic flair, this distinguished Pinotage stalks your taste buds one by one, converting every one in its path to its cause.”

49. Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest, Stellenbosch, 2007, £14.95
“It has so much class and breeding that it never once breaks into full on sweetie mode, preferring to hint and tempt with flashes of honey and tropical fruit and then moments of crunchy nut and brittle toffee – rapture!”

50. Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, Elgin, 2007, £9.99
“This is not only South Africa’s most celebrated sweet Riesling, it is also one of the world’s most beautifully balanced sweet wines.”

2 Comments »

  1. Pete in Scotland February 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm -

    The Porcupine Ridge Viognier/GB is a great shout. Unfortunately seems to be sold out everywhere in the UK.

  2. Arnold Palmer February 14, 2009 at 7:08 am -

    How many games of golf did this list cost? The golfers are all there – Ken “Kenny Rogers” Forrester, “Mad” Mike Ratcliffe, Niels Verburg, Kleine Zalzer,…

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