MARGARET Lamb, former chairman of the Wine Appreciation Society of Penrith (WASP), presented wines selected by member Keith Tibbott, who has the diploma of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, at the society meeting.
Arranged and led by Keith, members, including Margaret, had enjoyed visits to South Africa and its vineyards in 2002 and 2004. For this evening Margaret had been given Keith’s comprehensive notes and the chosen wines, as he has been unwell and could not attend.
The wine-makers on show had demonstrated they can produce first class wines from their vineyards whatever the seasons throw at them.
Intriguingly, Margaret demonstrated a “map” of South Africa by asking all to hold up their left hands with fingers extended and palm facing. She said the palm represents Capetown, with the Atlantic Ocean to the left and Indian Ocean below. The thumb points towards Citrusdal, home of Fairtrade wines, and Namibia. The index finger points to the main motorway N2 to Pretoria and Johannesburg, the middle finger to the quality producers of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, and the ring finger the Garden Route to Swellendam and Knysna via Somerset West and Elgin.
Finally, the little finger goes to Constantia and the coast and Walker Bay, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are refined to perfection. A little further east on the Indian Ocean coast the Klipgat caves have evidence of man from 14,000 years ago.
The first wine was from wine-maker Andre van Rensburg, with gold medals for his Sauvignon Blanc and for reds Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc 2009 13.5 per cent. abv Western Cape (£9.30 from Tesco Wines). Grapes are sourced from several sites to add complexity. The second white wine was Constantia Uitsig Reserve Semillon 2008 14 per cent. abv (£15.14 from www.sawinesonline.co.uk, the supplier of all the remaining wines excepting the Pinotage), an excellent full-bodied and complex wine enjoyed by all, perhaps especially by those who partook at the 2004 banquet in South Africa.
The remaining wines were all reds, the first La Motte Shiraz/ Viognier 2007 13.5 per cent. abv Western Cape (£14.26). Winemaker Edmund Tereblanche’s shiraz/viognier blend has been copied in Australia, Chile, Argentina and Burgundy, and elsewhere, but never surpassed. The superb marble, glass and wrought iron tasting room is owned by Hanneli Rupert-Kogelenberg and the winery site has been completely revamped since the 2004 visit.
The most spectacular vineyard and winery is that of Danie de Wet, formerly an international rugby player, and there followed de Wetshof “Nature in Concert” pinot noir 2006 14.5 per cent. abv Robertson (£20.64), a quality and delightful wine. The thin, poor soil is covered with a top layer of stones rounded by ancient glaciers, almost identical to the best Burgundian ground of Cote Rotie. The stones give a heating effect which extends the season.
The Warwick Estate is one side of the Simonsberg within the Stellenbosch area. Owned by the Ratcliffe family, the wine-maker is Joshua Joubert. The standard is such that four of the world’s top 10 restaurants list them, as quoted by Robert Parker. The society had Warwick Estate 3 Cape Ladies’ Pinotage/Cabernet Sauvignon/ Syrah 2008 14.5 per cent. abv Simonsberg Stellenbosch (£14.25), rated five-star by Wine magazine in its international wine challenge.
The wine-maker at Cape Chamonix is Gotfried Mocke who grows pinotage and treats the grapes like pinot noir, having trained in Burgundy. Chamonix Estate Greywacke Pinotage 2007 14.5 abv Franschhoek (£10.95 The Wine Society) did not disappoint, reminding that Gotfried was Diners’ Club Wine-maker of the Year in 2006.
The final wine, and star of the evening, was Seidelberg Rolands Reserve Syrah 2006 14.5 per cent. abv Paarl (£19.66). The wine-maker is the very talented and highly-qualified Alicia Rechner who, with her assistant, has been given free rein to modify Seidelberg’s wine list as they see fit.
Best wishes and thanks were sent to Keith for his presentation, which was ably undertaken by Margaret, who received a bottle of the Seidelberg in appreciation for her efforts.