South African wines are top notch

Reading articles, I am often struck more by what is not said, rather than what is written, as sometimes the writer has limited space.

 Posted by Jeremy Sampson
Published: 2011/12/06 07:57:11 AM

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=160434

Reading articles, I am often struck more by what is not said, rather than what is written, as sometimes the writer has limited space.

 As is to be seasonably expected, your learned wine writer Michael Fridjhon last week, took a quick look at the “fizz” category, “bubbles” to others, or in layman’s language the Methode Cap Classique (MCC).

 The previous Sunday, The Financial Times wine guru Jancis Robinson had listed her Top 25 “Bubbly Personalities” from around the world, of which interestingly only just over half were genuine champagnes — that is, produced in France in the Champagne region. Prices ranged from £7 to £170, and SA’s sole representative was the Graham Beck Brut Pinot Noir- Chardonnay, priced at £12,99 — a very considerable achievement.

 I understand that today SA has more than 3000 wine labels, your wine writer suggests over 100 are Cap Classique’s, and sadly only a handful have to date achieved true international brand status.

 Of the 20 or so mentioned in your article, the “usual suspects” all are stunners. However, over the past five years or so the quality of many South African wines have gone up in leaps and bounds, and not least the MCC category. Whilst it is granted that there is a great deal of subjectivity in wine tasting, put some local contenders alongside some international — and much more expensive — global “names”, and you may have a surprise. But then the established global brands have long entrenched their position. After all Moët can be traced back to 1743.

 In the past few months, I have heard rave notices about three other MCCs that I would add to your list: Steenberg from the deep south, KWV’s Laborie from Paarl, and Cabriere’s Pierre Jourdan from Franschoek. All totally delicious.

 And I haven’t even mentioned some of the delectable “pinks”. With more rosé now drunk than white wine in Europe, not to be ignored. My, we are so fortunate to be so spoilt for choice. As the FT put it: Racy? Light nose? Super clean? Cheers.

 Jeremy Sampson

 Johannesburg

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