January 9, 2012 in Wine Recommends
When I first joined the wine trade, my boss told me that the best thing about being a ‘wine fundi’ (not that he used that word, coming from deepest, darkest Suffolk) is that you can go to other people’s dinner parties and take the cheapest wine around and people think it must be good, but when they come and visit you, then the pressure’s on them and they spend more than they normally would because they think ‘otherwise, she’ll know….’ Which is great for my drinking and my wallet, although now I’ve publicised this little-known perk, I expect I shall be inundated with people bringing bottles of Graca for dinner in future.
Of course one way round the issue of what wine to take round for dinner is to actually take more than one and in the run-up to Christmas, I got a couple of couples delivered to me to try out. It’s actually a really nice thing to have a matching-pair, particularly when they come in different colours and you can keep the maximum number of people happy. So here are my thoughts on the latest pair of pairs.
Palesa Sauvignon Blanc (R28) and Merlot (R30), both NV
This is a new Fairtrade label from a cluster of big co-op wine farms in the Breedekloof – Daschbosh, Groot Eiland and Nuwehoop. The grapes are grown on land where the farmers are guaranteed a fair price, have a share in the profits and how they are distributed and take part in a range of different upliftment projects on and around the farm. So all nice feel-good stuff really. The prices cannot be argued with and the packaging is quite chi-chi considering the price. But what do they taste like?
To be absolutely truthful, I wasn’t that blown away with the Sauvignon – it was okay, but I think I would rather spend an extra couple of rand and get a little more intensity of flavour and interest. The Merlot, on the other hand, was fab. Pretty much everything you could possibly want from a cheery, chewy, fruity little socialite – soft, easy-drinking, likes a good boerie roll – it was the perfect party partner and I would happily lay in a couple of cases for any forthcoming do’s. Well done.
Flagstone Poetry Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (R39.99) and Merlot 2010 (R44.99)
Apparently the standard definition of poetry is ‘The best words, in the best order’. But of course, that is too plain and simple for wordsmith extraordinaire Bruce Jack, whose press release for this new affordable pair is far more romantic than that! There’s a lot of thought gone into this duo from the lovely packaging (including a very pretty 2-bottle carrier which I had great difficulty persuading my son to hand over), to the contents inside. So how did they measure up?
Unsurprisingly, very well indeed. Both wines are sourced from a variety of vineyards around the Cape – Bruce has always had a good nose for sniffing out nice little parcels of grapes – and both are very correct, well-made examples of their variety. If that sounds as if I am damning them with faint praise, then it shouldn’t because this is much harder than it sounds – particularly at this price level. You can make a nice wine at the R40 mark, but to get it to taste ‘like it ought’? Not so easy and Bruce manages it splendidly. I liked the figgy start and the tropical finish of the white and the spicy, fruitcake hints of the red. A great looking-and-tasting gift which will fool anyone into thinking you’ve spent far more money than you actually have.