A Wine Writers View on the World of Wine
High Timber in London, a South African based restaurant with a wine cellar containing 40,000 bottles for your pleasure, played host to a motley crew of wine writers and blogger’s recently as Wines of South Africa fired up the barbie for a good old South African Braai.
Joining the scribes were representatives from some of the UK’s leading wine suppliers; Hatch Mansfield, Seckford, Bibendum, as well as special guests from South Africa’s new and more recognisable wine producers; Mike Ratcliffe – Warwick Wines; Jeremy Borg – Painted Wolf; Tim Pearson – Seven Springs; and Bibendum’s Simon Farr – Sijnn.
The aim for the afternoon was to give a group of online focused wine, food and travel writers the opportunity to discover the great and good of South African wines plus cuisine. As the guests arrived a welcoming glass of Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc bubbly was handed out, meanwhile the rain poured down on an overflowing Thames. Not your average braai weather, fortunately the day was to improve, a precursor to the mini heat-wave we are experiencing now.
A large selection of South African wines was open to scrutiny for us. A mix of traditional Chenin Blanc‘s and Pinotage to more familiar Rhone blends, Sauvignon Blanc even the odd Portuguese grape thrown in for good measure too!
The menu, a simple four course affair with a fish and cucumber pâté, alternatively pea soup for the non-fish eaters, for starters. This was followed up by braised oxtail and biltong terrine, Cumbrian lamb ‘T-Bone’ chop with boerwors (sausage) from the braai and finally, for dessert, melktert with apricots. There was no real order to the wines on show as the list was quite large. Fifteen wines made the original sheet but others were added later. This system gave the diners the chance to match diverse wine styles with the different assortment of food.
My stand out wines were:
Tierhoek Winery Chenin Blanc 2009
Distinctive melon and grapefruit aromas. Dry and crisp melon fruit on the palate too. Good fresh acidity, nice! RRP £12.99
Importer – Richards Walford
Warwick Chardonnay 2010
Classical Burgundian, Montrachet, style wine. Noticeable soft buttery characters on nose and palate with a touch of spice. Again backed up by good acidity. Can age for 5-10 years easily. Real value for money RRP £14.99
Importer – J Fells
Seven Springs Vineyard Syrah 2010
Deep, dark red berry fruit with eucalyptus and medicinal aromas. Rich concentration of red fruit on the palate, some minerality and tannin. An absolute keeper, stunning! RRP£12.50-£13.50
Importer – Belle Epoque Wines
The afternoon was a good insight into the development of South African wines, and the food wasn’t bad either. This country’s wines have no doubt come on in leaps and bounds over the last ten years. It would seem that the Africans have found their identity. In the past their styles were hard to pin down, were they New or Old World? I think Old World is where the South African producers can find themselves. The reds coming out of the country now have style and definition. The days of young, green tannic fruitless wines have gone.
Same could be said of their whites. Back in my early days in the trade South African whites were defined by one variety, Chenin Blanc. Their Chardonnay can now match Burgundy in both style and class. Hamilton Russell wines are a case in point. Both Pinot and Chardonnay are two of the best Burgundian style wines outside of France I’ve ever had.
Enough said really.
Story by Me!
Featured in Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review – Online Industry Blog Section