I have a worrying feeling that some wine journalists depend for their drinking on the samples they receive. Why worry? Well, I think that people who offer their opinions as to what others should be drinking should mostly drink (as opposed to sample) wines that they actually choose – rather than save money on their liquor bill by relying on freebies. Not to mention that they should be expanding their horizons.
I say this self-righteously, as someone whose local and foreign wine bill is scary, who prefers serious wines with more age on them than is afforded by most new release samples, and who likes to mix foreign wines amongst the locals (we are a totally unimportant foreign-wine market, so scarcely ever get offered non-SA samples – apart from champagne).
Well, this afternoon I tasted a modest range of new releases with Angela Lloyd and Ingrid Motteux – some of which I shall certainly report on soon. Two of them I brought back home with me, partly because I like them, partly to see what would happen tasting them after some hours of opening, and with food.
Food. I confess that, despite the lingering winter outside, it was really rather too summery for the wines. First, warm (admittedly) fried calamari with a leafy salad (with lemon and herb mayonnaise from Joostenberg mixed, for respectability and my figure’s sake, with Hellman’s Light mayonnaise). Then – fuck the figure – some nice cheeses: a bit of cheddar, a few crumbles of parmigiano regggiano, some delightfully smelly Fairview La Beryl, and a bit of Danish blue stuff to go with an episode of a great Danish TV series, Borgen.
I actually really like leafy salads with various things, summer or winter (and oh, I’ve had enough of all this wintry Cape rain!). And I was very happy to continue with Overgaauw’s Touriga Nacional (at around R75 it’s the same price as the old-style, fat, rather dull but otherwise unexceptionable Chardonnay, which I wouldn’t have welcomed at my dinner). Touriga and calimari? Yeah, well, I agree there are wine and food marriages made in heaven, but mostly it’s more than good enough if you can get a nice wine and a nice plateful on the same table.
Like this. The Overgaauw Touriga is unpretentious, full of delicious flavour, with a nice bite from ripe tannin but ready to drink now (I feel I’ve sufficiently proved that point this evening – and I am undoubtedly fussy, and get this far with about 1% of the samples I taste). The sort of wine I increasingly enjoy: no obvious oak, not too ripe, fresh, genuinely dry. Very Mediterranean. Around R75.
With the cheese … well. The touriga was just about ok, but the Boplaas Cape Tawny Vintner’s Reserve was that much better. Boplaas have done remarkably well, at least critically, with their various Tawnies in recent years (they have an absurdly confusing number of them, some vintaged, some not, with vaguely similar names, which seems a silly idea given the hardly popular category).
This unvintaged one came in a 375ml bottle, which is fine – but of frosted clear glass, which is a dreadful idea for a wine like this! It doesn’t look “modern” or interesting – just wrong. The compulsory little warning sticker on the back had a typo, which added to the tackiness of the presentation: “Don’t dink and walk on the road”, it says, “you may be killed”.
Typo or not, I took the point and stayed in. I was dinking at home and survived.
This Tawny is totally delicious (and I’ve had enough of it to be quite sure). First, it has that wonderful aroma of model aeroplane glue that comes with lots of oxidative styles of grat fortified wine – some sherries, some madeiras, some tawny ports. Anything with that aroma is likely to make me smile. The Boplaas is also delicious and dry-finishing. I was just about to pour myself a bit more so I could dutifully add in a few American-style descriptors, but – oh! the bottle seems to be empty.
Even though it was a ridiculously small bottle, please let that status serve instead of a score.