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South African wines, Stellenbosch, reviews

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South African wines, Stellenbosch, reviews

joypirate | May 4, 2006 12:02 PM

The staff at Caroline’s wine store was really helpful when we were planning our Stellenbosch wine tour. There’s a whole mess of vineyards and we wanted to make sure we hit good ones. I spoke to Dayne Stern at Caroline’s (waterfront location, in the mall, www.carolineswine.com ) and he was extremely helpful and made some good recommendations.

Also, in shipping wines, Caroline’s shipping company can assign you a ‘consolidator number’ and you go to the various vineyards and buy the bottles you like and leave them there with the consolidator number and the wine shipping company will drive around, collect the bottles you purchased at the vineyards, and then bring them all to Caroline’s to be shipped to you. This assumes you’re purchasing at least some bottles from Caroline’s (I think I bought 5 bottles from Caroline’s and the rest were from vineyards). The shipping company is called, Vineyard Connection (www.vineyardconnection.co.za). Depending on where you live in the United States, they can either ship directly to you, or to the nearest airport. In my case, I will be going to the airport to pick up our wine. All of these vineyards were in the Stellenbosch area.


Spier:

A large, commercial vineyard, though not commercial in a bad way. Oddly, I think it was their lower end wines that really were interesting. The wife fell in love with the US $4 sweeter whites (she’s a cheap date). The case hasn’t arrived yet (10-21 days is the word) so I can’t be more specific, I believe it was a dessert wine, though not a muscato and not an ice wine. They also did a cheese/wine pairing that was only something like R 25 and very well done. They had a very good rose as well. Also, their wine store was very good, lots of stuff from other vineyards and international (though international prices were comparable to US prices so we saw no need to stock up on anything). Also, in their wine store I bought a bottle of Kaya’s Shaka (from the bargain barrel; and yes, I bought it solely because it was called, “Shaka”).

www.spier.co.za


Annandale:

A very small little vineyard (owned by a rugby player), I like that it wasn’t as built up. Probably had the best tour here of anywhere else and one that made me think of something I hadn’t considered. South Africa has had some rolling blackouts the last few months and some wines across the region could potentially have been affected. Annandale doesn’t make a lot of whites and their reds are stored in what is essentially a naturally cool giant cave-like cellar. The ’99 Cabernet Sauvignon is out of this world and I grabbed a bottle; at once smooth, strong, and interesting. A great food wine. They were also pouring their ’01 Cavalier blend, their ’01 Shiraz and their ’98 Cabernet. All were good but the ’99 Cab was easily the best.

www.annandale.co.za


Rust En Vrede:

This tasting had ridiculously large pours (we had a designated driver, the wife, who was considerably more interested in the baby cheetahs near Spier than the wine). The ’01 Shiraz, the ’02 Cab and the ’03 Merlot were poured. Shiraz was great, Cab was solid and the Merlot was decent. They’ve got very nice grounds and encourage you to walk around with your glass, which was much preferred to just standing at a counter faking winespeak.

www.rustenvrede.com


Simonsig:

A very nice tasting area, the owner was there and so was one of her sons, who I believe is one of the winemakers. Their wines are very highly awarded and deservedly so. As previously mentioned in an earlier post, the Gewurztraminer goes very well with curries and Indian food. The Redhill Pinotage was really wonderful and I grabbed a bottle. Also, the Tiara and the Merindol Syrah were mighty tasty. The guy at Caroline’s wines recommended all their bubblies and the ones I tried were very good, such as the Mustique and the Kaapse Vonkel. Oh, if you’re ever on 1st class on British Airways, the Redhill Pinotage is what they serve.

www.simonsig.co.za


Laibach:

Laibach probably had the best wines but not really a good tasting (really small pours and I think the woman seemed sort of annoyed at us, at least until we decided to buy some). The wife and our friend were wild about the ’04 Sweet Natural, a very light and crisp dessert wine made from Chenin Blanc. We bought 3 bottles total. Also, tried the Ladybird Organic, the Dogleg and the Cabernet Franc. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Cabernet Franc that’s convinced me that it’s really a good stand alone grape and this was no exception. Both the Ladybird and the Dogleg were very good. I forget which one it was, but one of these distinctly had a bit of “inside of my soggy tent” in the bouquet, but it still drank nicely. Odd.

www.laibach.co.za


Warwick:

A really good tasting here. The woman was ridiculously enthusiastic and was so upset that they were sold out of the “Trilogy” that I later bought a bottle for the case I shipped without tasting it. We did try the “Three Cape Ladies”, another blend that was also very tasty and I grabbed a bottle of that as well. Small world, according to the Warwick wine blog it appears that the owners are coming to Pennsylvania to try to get their wines stocked in our state stores. I wish them luck.

(website was down when I wrote this, not sure if it’ll be back up)
www.warwickwine.co.za

The guy at Caroline’s also recommended a few we didn’t get to, which were the following:

Kanonkop
Vergelegen
Uitkyk

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