Tuesday, August 18 2011. Cambridge Wine Merchants @ Cherry Hinton.
A blind tasting of a flight of wines which were either South African award winners, or trophy winners from the IGP French Top 100 competition (full list of which can be found here). Event was hosted by Hal Wilson, MD of Cambridge Wine Merchants; many thanks to Lyndsey Spellman, their retail director, for the kind invite to the tasting.
17 wines were tasted on the night: 9 whites, 1 rose, 6 reds and 1 sweet; below are brief notes on each.
2010 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc
Some green notes of tomato leaves and cut grass, balanced with a nice lemony citrus nose. On the palate its balanced, ripe fruit, fresh acidity, with distinct stony minerality almost. Nice mouthfeel, not overcooked, some restraint. One of the better South African Sauvignon Blancs I've had.
2009 Glen Carlou Chardonnay. Paarl, South Africa.
Deeper golden hue. On the nose theres lots of savoury notes of toast and bread, along with sweet vanilla, then giving way to white stone fruits of apricots and peaches. Mouthfeel is textured, plenty of lemony acidity which lingers; nice texture too, with decent finish. Its obvious this wine had plenty of treatment by way of barrel fermentation and/or oak aging, but there was plenty of fruit to carry it. Classy, balanced.
2011 Stellar Organics 'Running Duck' Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc (Fairtrade).
South Africa. Cambridge Wine. £7.75. B+
Lots of lemons on the nose, and some peaches too; fruit very forward and is carried to the palate. Fresh acidity, there is some width on the palate, but its mostly one dimensional. Feels a tad generic, but still well made; slightly alcoholic on the finish.
2010 Domaine Saint Andre 'Foie d'Ines'
Lime zest with green apples and unripe white stone fruits (peaches and apricots mostly). Palate is neutral citrus, fresh but rather bland; some minerality. Well made but forgettable.
2010 Les Caves de Commandeur Rolle
Citrus on the nose, lemons and limes, with some floral touches, and perhaps fennel too? Palate has decent width, theres a grapefruit-like pithiness to it; fresh acidity, ripe fruits. Balanced.
2010 Barton & Guestier Chardonnay Reserve
Very pale, almost clear in the glass. Very neutral on the nose, maybe a touch of citrus and white flowers. Palate is dominated by ripe fruits, to the extent of being slightly on the flabby side. Again, nothing technically wrong, but forgettable. Tasted blind, this really doesnt show any varietal characteristic; just plain neutrality.
2008 Domaine d'Estoublon Blanc, Vin de Pays des Alpilles
Golden in colour. Nose is definitely oxidative almost sherry like, with notes of botrytis and dried fruits, then maybe honey; bags of overripe peaches and white fruits; some nutty notes too, like Fino; and also a smoky, flint struck nose - confused yet? Palate has decent acidity, but the myriad of flavours on the nose, is there on the mouthfeel too; definitely nutty, almost drying sensation on the palate; quite long on the finish. This is a seriously crazy wine, I really wonder whether this has some premature oxidation going on - or is this a style they are going for? Simply unhinged.
Shorter notes on the rest of the wines. 2007 La Croix Gratiot Roussane (B+) was very lemony off the bat with limestoney minerality showing, some pith too; light, fleets through quickly. One white not from the Languedoc was the 2010 de Fournier 'Mmm...' Sauvignon Grande Cuvee, IGP Loire (A-) which showed the characteristic green tinge on the nose, tomato leaves and cut grass; firm minerality on the palate; restrained fruit, decent acidity, with lime on the clean finish. The only rose of the night was the 2010 Rive Haute Tannat / Cabernet Sauvignon Rose (B+) showed weird green notes of capsicum and leaves on the nose; moving to a sweet, almost confected palate filled with ripe red fruits; its lush and plump and therefore very easy drinking, uncomplicated.
The reds started with the 2010 Durbanville Hills Pinotage (B+) was very characteristic of the varietal with thick red fruits with plums, with a smoky tarry note too, the heat shows too; just on the right side of being overcooked. The 2010 Domaine Terra Vecchia Rouge (B+) was bags of red fruits, quite lifted on the nose; its not heavy on the palate, just fruit driven stuff, not very tannic, drinks easily. The best red of the evening was undoubtedly the 2008 Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou (A-), the virtues of which I have extolled elsewhere; really stood up to the plate again. The 2010 Paul Mas Estate Carignan Vielle Vignes (B+, pictured above) showed darker fruits on the nose, perhaps with freshly laid tarmac and slight heat; theres also a woody note to it; still quite tannic on the palate, the plentiful extracted dark fruit needs to settle; quite big.
The Glen Carlou Pinot Noir (B) at 14% abv typifies how South African Pinot can be so hit and miss - this was unfortunately a miss for me. The paler colour and sour cherry / raspberry note didnt match up with the heat on the palate, something weird going on in the phenolics too; it shows juicy briught fruit on the palate; all very disjointed. The 2009 Domaine Yeuses 'Les Epices' Syrah (B+) was a bit too hot and cooked for me; plenty of fruit, but felt rather stewed, theres also a blue cheese and vegetal note too, with a smoky note as well. Its decent on the palate, showing plenty of fruit, but there wasnt anything remarkable apart from it. The last wine of the night was the 2009 Domaine Chiroulet-Vent d'Hiver, VdP Cotes de Gascogne (B) which didnt show too well. Theres raisins and tinned fruits on the nose, perhaps some floral notes too; the palate just had sugar and maybe a touch of acidity; weirdly thin on the mouth, insubstantial and hollow even; just lacking in depth and complexity.