The Beautiful South

Flagship wines 26.09.13

Flagship wines 26.09.13 - Credit: Archant

The Beautiful South: a recent trade tasting presenting wines from over 300 producers from South Africa, Chile and Argentina was an opportunity to get a “flavour” of the current wines from these countries. Despite the rather overwhelming task confronting us in terms of the sheer numbers of wines to taste it was great to seek out wines to obtain a picture of the styles of certain regions and grape varieties.

Apart from Argentina and Chile South African Shiraz, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc formed the heart of my focus for tasting. Shiraz because I wanted to check out the wine quality after much replanting with new clones to eliminate the “green” South African Shiraz notes and Pinotage and Chenin Blanc as they are South African grape varieties.

It was great to find wines across the range that were very well made and carried with them a taste of their South African provenance. This is found in the lovely mouth filling texture with a ‘bite’ on the finish of spice and some acidity that add a frisson of flavour to the lovely juicy rich blackberry and damson fruit notes.

South African Shiraz at the every day price points under £8 per bottle had lovely full ripe fruit notes that were soft and smooth and shows that good wines at this price are still possible especially from South Africa. Look out for these wines on all wine shop shelves – supermarkets and independents all have their examples of these such as the wines from Cape Heights, First Cape and Kumala. Over the £8 price point there are many delicious Shiraz wines with layers of flavour such as the Syrah from Graham Beck and Boschendal in Sainsburys and DeMorgenzon at Flagship Wines.

Pinotage, South Africa’s a native signature grape based on a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut makes a range of wine styles and the traditional rustic ones with burnt bitter flavours are rare now thankfully. Modern styles exhibit soft deep fruity notes with layers of chocolaty spice and bitter cherry notes enhanced by careful oak aging. Jeremy Borg is a great exponent of this style of Pinotage in his Painted Wolf range as are brands such as Kumala at everyday drinking prices though some can be stringy and lean below £7 per bottle.

Chenin Blanc, the white native grape previously also known as Steen is the most widely cultivated variety in the Cape and makes wines from dry to sweet with lovely apply fruit notes and judicious oak aging adds a mouthfilling texture but no woody notes. There are some great soft and fruity easy drinking

Chenins such as the Andersbrook, Cape Heights and Kumala which lead into some of the top quality ones such as those from Demorgenzon, Raats, Graham Beck and Jeremy Borg with Painted Wolf wines et al.

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It’s Food and Drink Festival time again with many opportunities to enjoy special wine related events. They include the Spotlight on Spain tasting at Majestic Cheese on September 25 and wine tastings at the Fighting Cocks on September 27 and October 2 with Wobbly Bottom Farm Cheeses; a Chilean wine tasting of Viu Manent wines with the winery’s UK agent at Flagship Wines, the Hertforshire Wine School’s informative Introduction to Wine Tasting event on October 3. Freddies Restaurant is hosting an Italian and Spanish Wine tasting on October 3 and there is a South African food and wine evening at with South African winemaker Jeremy Borg at Flagship Wines on October 4 and their Wine Fair at St Albans Boys School on October 18.