Outside, the bloody north wind is prowling round the house, throwing itself at my windows, with the first bits of rain. If Winter comes, asks Shelley in Romantic ecstasy, can Spring be far behind? I’m starting to wonder; Spring is being a little too coy for my liking this year. I was planning a trip out to a Paarl vineyard tomorrow – postponed last week because of foul weather, and maybe postponed again.
Pretty grim inside too, in fact, as I struggle to complete my entry for the Du Toitskloof wine writing competition, due in tomorrow. Not going well. Of course, I say that I would have been working on it a week ago if it weren’t for the last bits of Platter work getting in the way … but, would I really? I’m not known for not leaving things till the last minute and hoping that panic will happily substitute for timeliness.
So, while waiting for white wine season (as prefigured by Eben Sadie’s tasting reviewed last time) let me at least mention a couple of reds of this week. I took to a dinner party on Tuesday a bottle of Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2000. I’d thought, in my blindness as I abstracted it from the wine-fridge, that it was a 2006 – to take a 13-year-old to a dinner of people vaguely interested in wine, but far from obsessive about it, might have been a bit risky.
No worries, as they say. The wine was in beautiful shape. Congratulations to Simonsig. I generally find their top reds too big, too heavily oaked, but I must admit that after 13 years (and from a notably tannic, ungraceful vintage like 2000 generally was), the Merindol was drinking extremely well. Still showing that it had had plenty of oak, but given the chosen big, brash style, it was well balanced, rich and powerful, enormously alive, and satisfying. I was most impressed. It deserves, in retrospect, more than the four stars that it received (as I’ve just checked) in Platter. I would take it with confidence to a dinner party in a few years time still.
Much less oaked, but I’d guess of much less longevity, is Sequillo Red 2006. I’ve been drinking from a case of six bottles over the last few months and this last bottle is, in fact, the best of them. One or two were rather tired, but this one is particularly good – full of lively fruit, fresh and vinous, the tannin succulent and nicely balancing the good acidity.
I’ve just had a last slug of it, and must now (once I’ve posted this bit of trivia), return to the competition article, to see if any last-minute improvements might help. Too late for major stuff, but I’m rather worried about the first sentence: it’s definitely a bifurcated thing – but should there be a semi-colon? Or a comma followed by “and”? It makes a big difference, but I can’t make up my mind which is better…. Perhaps I can hope that, like my two wines of such different styles, each might work well enough. But what if the judges prefer their opening sentences heavily oaked? Is a semi-colon a bit like over-extraction?