Tasting Note: Palladius 2005, The Sadie Family, Swartland

I’ve been a little quiet, these days, and it’s not because I haven’t been thinking about wine. On the contrary, I’ve been coordinating (and hosting) the 14th edition of the Vendredis du Vin, the French-language equivalent of the Wine Blogging Wednesdays. We had a great time with this collective tasting on unusual wines, which led us to discover the likes of gewurztraminer and petite arvine from Languedoc, or a peculiar wine blended from Rhône grenache and pinot noir from Burgundy – a great kind of sacrilege. If you read French (or can make good use of online translation tools), it’s worth a visit. You can see the summary on my French blog.

I could almost have included the magnificent Palladius 2005 from Eben Sadie, one of the most prominent winemakers from South Africa. Sadie took his first professional steps in winemaking, along with Tom Lubbe, at Charles Back‘s Spice Route project in the late 1990s, before (more…)

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Matassa meets Montreal and Manhattan

My good friend and winemaker extraordinaire Tom Lubbe is hopping over the Pond, next week, to showcase his wines in Montreal and New York City. I’m an absolute fan of Matassa Wines, a Domaine I had the chance to visit. A great week walking through the (biodynamic) vineyards, tasting the grapes, packing bottles into cases, pallets into trucks, and to stomp those gorgeous grapes with my own bare (clean) feet (see here and here for details of my stay and, more importantly, to learn more about Matassa).

In Montreal, Tom Lubbe will be hosting (more…)

Wine. Improved by ice cubes.

A rather mind-boggling (or perhaps simply horrifying) story in the Globe and Mail, today. Some South African wine producers have been “redesigning” their rosé wines, so that they taste better served over ice cubes. As they try to appeal to a young, urbane crowd, these producers want to turn their wines into a cool kind of cocktail. And there’s apparently nothing that says cool like, well, ice.

Christened with poetic names like “Frozé” or “Couture“, these wines (more…)

Kiwi (or is that grapefruit?) overdose

I really can’t stand it anymore. The grapefruit-fennel-green-pepper creature they call sauvignon blanc, in places down under. Really. I’ve had it. It’s like I’ve just had too much chocolate cake or sugar pie. The simple idea of eating more is repulsive.

I had some Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, the other day, and now I’ve just been drinking some Klein Constantia 2006 sauvignon blanc from South Africa, and you know what? I feel like I’ve just switched from Canada Dry ginger ale to Schweppes ginger ale. The wines are dopplegangers. Same feeling, same fruit-surrounded acidity, same set of aromas, same taste overall. It’s flavorful, for sure. You can get why it’s attractive to so many people. But this impression of getting the same wine under two different labels has just done it for me.

I can’t help feeling that getting twin wines from two different countries – and one from a vineyard that is responsible for the incredibly distinctive and superbly elegant Vin de Constance – means that there is more chemistry at work here than geology and biology. Kiwi sauvignon blanc is doing well? By all means, let’s do the same! Add a little B254F yeast here, control temperatures this way, and voila, the recipe is reproduced. Forget individual character, this is globalized wine at its best (and worst).

I really should explore this more, but I will do so reluctantly.

Not all the New World falls under the spell of kiwi-grapefruit sauvignon, thankfully. I remember To Kalon vineyard fumé blanc (different name, same grape) from Robert Mondavi as a superb, refined experience, with a a whole different character and set of flavours. And Chilean sauvignon blanc, though playing in the same fruit leagues, has its own angle on the whole game.

If anybody out there knows a New Zealand or South African sauvignon blanc that goes off the beaten path, that has some mineral character, a different citrus fruit, or something different or other, please let me know. I’ll gladly amend myself.

In the meantime, I’ve just poured myself another glass of the Klein Constantia. The bloody thing just drinks itself.