For the last column or two I have been rather negative, telling you not to drink this, and what not to do. It weighs on a man’s soul to be so negative so often. Today I am going to tell you about a few things that are awesome in the world of wine, things that I am happy to recommend – ideas and wines that will hopefully make your week.
Tobias Mouvedre 2010
This has to be up there as one of the best wine bargains in the country. It is made by a friend of mine, Brian McRobert who is the assistant wine-maker for Eben Sadie in the Swartland – one of South Africa’s more famous wine makers. This wine is so full of personality, you can have a conversation with it. Rustic, real, bright, fresh, straight-up delicious.
Although the minimalistic label reads only “Mouvedre”, the wine also has some Syrah and Cinsault in it. It is bright, and really really fresh with red fruits, some spice, and a good length with poise and balance. But the best part of this wine is the hardest to explain. It is alive. You can taste the honesty, the character, the interesting-ness in it. It stands apart from the mass-made, clean and boring supermarket wines. It’s a wine that makes you look twice when it crosses the street, it’s a wine you want to buy a drink for, it’s a wine that you flirt with. And best of all it’s a wine that flirts back.
If you are wallet conscious, there is something even better, it’s only R75 bucks a bottle. Really. There was only three barrels made, so I would get your hands on this as quickly as possible. You can get it from Vino Pronto or Wine Cellar. I love this wine. I love its simplicity, it’s fresh fruit, and its vibrant character. Delicious. Ageworthy. A bargain.
Expand your palate
We had these guys on the radio a little while back, and I thought it would be a great way to start tasting wines from Europe without having to do all that much, or breaking the bank. Their name is 5ounces and basically they have a subscription service which sends out a case of international wines every month. It’s around R1 000 a month for six bottles of wine, delivered straight to your door. While it is not as much of a bargain as the Tobias, it’s a really good way to get a snapshot of some old world wines without having to do any work yourselves. It’s best for those living somewhere in South Africa without a good wine store near them. I recently tasted through the current case, and I can say the wines are worth the cash. Details can be found at their website.
Make an appointment to visit a wine-farm
Do you own a Platter Guide? If not, and you enjoy visiting wine farms, you should get one. Because whether you find the scores useful or not, the rest of the information is invaluable. Opening and closing times, the list of wines, GPS coordinates, phone numbers etc – it’s all there. But here’s the tip: Somewhere in the beginning of the book there is a list of all the producers by region arranged in a grid showing quite easily which ones are open to the public, open on Sunday, serve food and so on. Now, find a farm you would like to visit that is by appointment only. Call them and make one. I promise you won’t regret it. You see, many farms don’t have the staff or the facilities to have a tasting room open all the time. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t want you to come and taste their wines, it’s just they need to know when you will be arriving. The bonus for you is that you receive far more attention than you do at some of the bigger more commercial tasting rooms. Some of my favourite days tasting at wine farms have come from making appointments.
Go to an awesome tasting
I wrote two weeks ago about what not to do at a tasting. This week I implore you to go to them. Tastings are the best way to learn about and taste new wines. The big walk arounds are okay, but they are generally more of a piss up than anything else, and I myself prefer to get pissed sitting down. Here’s a tip for a rad tasting that coming up. It’s called the Young Guns, and it is being hosted by Wine Cellar*. The tasting brings together winemakers at the beginning of their careers, producing their own interesting wines. The last one was awesome, with each winemaker pairing his wines to music. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and you get to taste the future of South African winemaking.
The tasting is on the 9th of May. Apparently seats are limited. Mail Tessa to book your spot. You wont regret it.
Take a Wine Outside
Summer is drawing to a close, the days are contracting, and the sun is not quite as vehement as he was. Take advantage of these days with a bottle of wine. Wine, for me, is the perfect outdoor beverage. Beer’s frothy exuberance does it well under sunny skies, but perhaps better suited for sustenance than sheer enjoyment: it is through beer alone that a man can make it through a five day Test Match, emerging at the end, blistered, knackered, exhausted, but never thirsty.
Wine drunk under the sun, in the open air just tastes better. It’s not about absolute quality here, it’s about living the life wine was made for. Wine these days can be taken far too seriously. Take it away from the dining pom table, the restaurant, the wine bar. Take it out into the fields, the bush, the wide open spaces. Chenin in a tumbler, a bubbly out the bottle in a river, Shiraz out a jam jar – it doesn’t matter, just do it outside.
Drink a whole bottle of wine
Here is the best homework you will ever get. Take a bottle of wine and drink it. The whole thing. No need to gulp. Get to know it, sip it slow, sniff it, see how it changes as you work your way through it. Let the wine talk to you. Explore it thoroughly.
Listen to “Wine Harry and Song”
Cue shameless self-promotion: On Thursday mornings (somewhere between 10h40 and 11h30), I talk wine with Richard Hardiman and Lindsay Williams on the HardWilli Show. We drink good wine, talk to wine makers, and other industry people while taking a look at what is going on in the winelands. Sometimes there are also giveaways. So if only for trying to score some free stuff, tune in to www.2oceansviberadio.com.
*To clear up any conflicts here, or at least to air them like so much dirty laundry, I do a bit of work for Wine Cellar, but this isn’t some little punt for a client, but rather a punt for the awesome wines and winemakers who will be there.
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