Wednesday, March 18, 2009

South African Wine Tasting

Ten 'Cult' status wines were assembled by the South African Wines Society cellar master for a tasting this evening at the University of Toronto Faculty Club. What a great opportunity to try a wide range of wines you might not normally buy. Bottles sampled ranged in price from $38.95 to $165.

Hey Beverly, thanks for inviting me!

This is the second event I've been to at the Faculty Club and it is a great venue, sitting in the dining room is like being surrounded by Wedgwood, so blue and so white.

Invaluable to try before you buy. And I have to say some of the pricier bottles really didn't seem worth the extra cost. Yes, "very tasty," but is it really worth $85 (the Sadie Family Columella)? It was also noted that many of the vintages were "closed" and might take a few more years to open to their full potential.

I think my favourite bottles of the evening were The Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc and the Klein Constantia Vin de Constance.

The Chenin Blanc was granted 93 points by the Wine Spectator and was made in the Burgundian style. I loved the colour, like candlelight in a glass. Beverly said it reminded her of eggnog, and I got that right away. Spicy. Honey notes. A touch of cloves. An interesting statement was "wood is the frame around the wine... sometimes the flavour of the oak is used to hide a poor wine." This had the flavour of the wood but the wine was also lovely. At $55/bottle it was said to cellar well for another 3-5 years.

My other favourite was the Klein Constantia Vin de Constance ($79/bottle), very much like a Sauterne. Unique and distinct, sweet without being cloying. The bottle still has this slightly wonky shape evoking an Old World charm. Napoleon was said to drink Constantia by the bottle every day during his exile on St. Helena.

Baudelaire himself was inspired to observe
Even more than Constantia, than opium, than Nuits
I prefer the elixir of your mouth, where love performs its slow dance.

I really must read more Baudelaire!

There is some argument about whether SA wines are really New World - after all they have been produced for 400+ years and adapt the wine making styles and grapes of the Old World. None of the cult wines sampled this evening were pinotage, perhaps SAs only indiginous grape.

Neil Fortes led the tasting and encouraged diverse responses. I liked the fact that individual differences were honoured. There were lots of educated palates there (please note I do NOT consider myself in that category). They seemed to welcome my contradictory opinions. Although one of my table-mates did light-heartedly suggest I might be suffering from some type of taste-blind disorder, I found agreement for my point of view supported at other tables.

Lots of fun!


Nicki BH said...

Taste-blind disorder...hmmmm.
I'll remember that the next time we disagree...on anything.

Diane said...

yes, but that may be a very long time! *-)