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© John Farren

Meeting 394 -" New Waves & Great Men in their Prime - Wines of South Africa"

Speaker: Simon Taylor (Stone, Vine and Sun
Friday8th May 2016: Neville Hall, Waltham St Lawrence


       Although already known to several members, we were very pleased to welcome a new presenter to the Branch at our May meeting - Simon Taylor of Stone, Vine and Sun. The tasting was of wines from South Africa under the heading "New Wave and Great Men in their Prime". Stone, Vine and Sun was established in 2002 with the mission of seeking out independent vignerons. It became a specialist merchant for South Africa in 2010. Simon explained that South Africans are no strangers to wine growing, the first grapes being grown in 1659. Control by the government and political isolation during the 1970s and 1980s led to a decline in quality as producers were paid by weight and so growers aimed for large, fleshy grapes. Leaf roll virus also affected the quality of the red wines in particular. The transformation occurred following the release of Nelson Mandela on 11 February 1990. Foreign investment meant vineyards were replanted and new equipment was purchased for the wineries. This programme of renewal continued and half the vineyards in South Africa are less than 10 years old.

       The Matriarch, a Methode Cap Classique from Nitida, set the tone for the evening scoring 7. A Riesling, also from Nitida, was quite different from German wines although it would still provide a light summer aperitif. Fermentation is stopped and no extra sugar is added during the wine-making process, only the natural sugars. A canapé of smoked mackerel paté on crostini went well. Chenin Blanc is still the most widely grown grape in SA, and the Secateurs Chenin Blanc from Badenhorst in Swartland provided us with an example. Adi Badenhorst is obviously quite a character - he breeds parrots and the wine label wisely advises drinkers "Don't drink and walk on the road - you'll be killed!" This scored an average 7.5. Leon Coetzee of The Fledge and Co, also in Swartland, provided the most experimental wines of the evening with first a white blend of Viognier and Chenin Blanc, and later a Syrah. These both scored 6.5 although the Syrah had a particularly wide range of scores. No South African tasting is complete without a Pinotage (this one from Lemberg in the Western Cape, even though it remains something of a marmite wine. This one scored 6.5. The two most popular wines were a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Domaine des Dieux and a more traditional Bordeaux blend in Troika from Chamonix, Franschhoek. These both scored 8.

       A Pinot Noir from Fryer's Cove, Bamboes Bay, accompanied Charlotte's Roast guinea fowl, sweet potato and lemon, basil and olive gremolata, yellow South African rice with ginger, raisins and cloves, served with green beans & asparagus. For dessert, we enjoyed an unusual pineapple, cardamom and cashew nut tart served with crème fraiche. (34 + 4 guests)
       (Julie Graham)

The Wines
Aperitif: (1) Nitida, The Matriaach, Methode Cap Classique, Coastal Region 11.5% 7
The Whites
   (2)Nitida, Riesling, Durbanville 2015
13.5% 7
(3) Badenhorst, Secateurs Chenin Blanc, Swartland 2015 13% 7+
(4) The Fledge, Vagabond, Swartland 2014 12.5% 6+
The Reds
   (5) Domain des Dieux, Chaerdonay, Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge 2012
13.5% 8
(6) Lemverg, Pinotage, Western Cape 2013 13.5% 8
(7) The Fledge, Syrah Western Cape 2015 13% 6+
(8)Cape Rock, Cape Roca, Olip[hants River 2014 14% 7
(9) Chamonix, Troika, Franschoek 2012 14.5% 8
The Supper Wine
   (10) Fryer's Cove, Pinot Noir, Bamboes Bay 2014