If you’re a port drinker, you’ll recognise the aromas and flavours of Peter Bayly III 2012. I won’t try to describe them, being weary and not all that interested in doing so right now, but it’s not surprising, seeing the wine is a blend of touriga nacional, tinta barocca (spelt “barroca” elswhere than South Africa) and souzão, all significant port varieties. These are the varieties that Peter and Yvonne Bayley grow in their tiny vineyard in the foothills of the Swartberg mountains, in the Groenfontein Valley, just outside the Cape’s “port capital”, Calitzdorp (see their website here). They started off making a Cape Vintage a decade back, but have more recently been spreading out a little.
In Calitzdorp, as even more in Portugal’s Douro valley, there are increasing numbers of table wines being made from the traditional port varieties. I can’t say I know the local ones well (let alone the foreigners), but my impression is that they’re a predictably mixed bunch. I tasted the Axe Hill Distinta earlier this year, for example, and found it much too ripe, soft and sweet for real satisfaction.
Peter Bayly III is altogether more distinguished. It has warm, welcoming plum-pudding, fruit-cake aromas, reminiscent of port, as I suggested, but reveals itself as even rather light-feeling and elegant, with a savoury element to it, and not sweet (despite a bit of residual sugar), at a declared 13.5% alcohol. A sensitively made and most likeable wine, quite serious in some ways but without pretension, it held up very well over a few days’ sampling (ie, drinking – I enjoyed it). Smartly packaged, with the estate’s charming gold flying pig logo. At a cellar price of R120 (a bit more at retail, if you can find it) it’s not cheap – but for something a bit different and as well crafted as this, it’s decent value, I’d say.
White table wines from Portuguese varieties are rarer. Boplaas’s Cape Portuguese White Blend in fact mixes half verdelho with notably un-Portuguese chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, making its name a trifle dubious. Read more about it on the ebullient Boplaas website, here. It’s a wine of some charm, flavoursome and rather soft in texture and structure, easygoing, but with a touch of sour greenness from sauvignon. The Platter taster was startlingly over-generous, I’d say, giving it four stars (I’d have gone for an enthusiastic 2.5 or 3 stars myself), but it’s a perfectly pleasant wine in a modest way, and decent value at R40.