I’ve mentioned before an ardent Canadian winelover named Jon Whitteker and the South African Wine Club in Toronto, for which he is Cellar Master, and which has an impressive, lovingly accumulated cellar that affords some excellent tastings. (See here, and here for a report on their tasting of pinotages from around the world.) Jon’s just sent me some details of, as he says, a “recent Meerlust Rubicon vertical (nine vintages including 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 plus a 2004 cabernet sauvignon) I held in Toronto”. He writes further:
“The tasting was complemented by a custom video Chris Williams [Meerlust winemaker since 2004] prepared for our tasting. It was a definite hit and his insights made the event all that more interesting. The overall impression of the wines was very positive. There were no wines that showed poorly and attendees indicated a wide range of different favourites over the evening. I was able to include a surprise 1984 (magnum), which was magnificent, which I opened at the end. People were therefore able to enjoy it as it evolved in the glass.
Interestingly I didn’t find a uniform consensus as to the audience’s favourite wine. The subtleties of each vintage played to different tastes. In addition some of the vintages changed more than others in the glass. In fact at my table, the 2006 vintage kept getting better and better as the evening progressed and at the end was the favourite of all, except the 1984, which was just so special. One comment that did stand out was the high degree of consistency across all the vintages. Rubicon did itself proud.
On another note, the event was sold out, which shows the high level of interest locally for this type of event.”
To which last point I can add that I noticed that the event cost $75 for members of the Club, $85 for guests. How many locals would be willing to pay anything like that for such a tasting, I wonder? How many local wine groups could put on a tasting like this? Any?
Another thing that I noticed with some amusement was the “WAIVER, RELEASE AND INDEMNITY” that had to be signed by those attending. It made me wonder just how dangerous or emotionally taxing, as well as serious, these tastings are (or how litigious Canadians are, more likely): This is what it said:
“I am participating in South African Wine Society (SAWS) events voluntarily and at my own risk. In consideration of my participation, I, for myself, my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, hereby waive, release and forever discharge and indemnify SAWS, its organizers, volunteers, members, and the Executive Committee from any and all damages, claims and actions for any loss, liability, claim, action, costs, expenses, physical or emotional injury or death to me arising out of my participation in SAWS functions or on society grounds, howsoever caused. I am aware that SAWS does not carry any liability insurance.”
John sent a link to some commentary from a wine critic, Michael Godel, who attended: here. I also took the pic of the tasting samples from his website.