Monday, October 8, 2012

Blending with syrah

Wine writer Tim James and Wine Cellar recently had a blind tasting of French vs Swartland Shiraz-based blends.

James reports: "Shiraz-based blends, not too complicated ones but fresh and delicious, are my own “house red”. If they were eatable, then something between comfort food and an infallible quick-and easy dish; for when a challenge to tired tastebuds or tired spirits is not wanted. Modest wines - in the best sense of a word that is too seldom appropriate in a world of wannabes, of over-oaked, over-ripe, over-everythinged wines. And not too expensive.

So it was not only with the aim of learning something to pass on to others that I asked Roland Peens of the invaluable Wine Cellar in Cape Town to arrange a small comparative tasting of such wines. Half imported by him from the south of France, others from the Swartland – the region which has most assiduously promoted the style locally (including some grand versions but they were not what this tasting was about)."

He concludes that "Coming second by arithmetic, but first for me, was Badenhorst Secateurs 2011 – beautifully just what I wanted: plenty of flavour, but not sweetly fruity, harmoniously balanced with structure -  a firm but gentle “grip” so the wine doesn’t flop around in your mouth!

There are in the Swartland many tiny but ambitious winemakers – diminutive in terms of production, that is. Some work for established producers, who let them make a few barrels of their own. Bryan MacRobert is one such, who has been for a few years in the cellars of Eben Sadie, one of the Swartland’s biggest names. He’s learnt plenty from the boss, but reveals a winemaking intelligence and aesthetic all his own. His marketing skills being inversely proportioned to his winemaking ones, I wonder if Bryan’s Tobias label can become as successful as it deserves. He makes highly distinctive and interesting wines, a white and a red."

The article also appeared in Mail & Guardian, 28 September-4 October 2012


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