Monday, December 6, 2010

South Africa Wine Up the Ying Yang ... December 3, 2010

Tonight, I attended the South Africa Wine Society's (SAWS) annual holiday dinner, food was decent, the people I met were fun and entertaining, but not as entertaining as their keynote speaker (who happened to be me) ... As a wine writer I was very interested in the wines being poured.  As I admitted in my address, on the whole I am not a huge fan of South African wine, I have liked quite a few, but many others have left me very cold with a bitter taste in my mouth.  So tonight I wanted to see what the SAWS drinks: do they bring in and sample only the best?  Turns out it was a very Graham Beck-centric evening, but their cellar was raided for some real gems.  

We opened with a selection of Graham Beck LCBO general list wines that will soon be de-listed ... what a crime because the 2009 Chardonay/Viognier blend is absolutely delightful - now granted, not for a cold fall evening, but a real pleasure for hot days in summer, I hope this one comes back.  Next we toasted the evening with a Graham Beck Non-Vintage Brut, the nose was loaded with toasted almond biscotti while the palate had the lightly sweet flavour of almond biscotti, all it was missing was the crunch.  Next up, the dinner wines both from 2002: Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir and Graham Beck The Joshua.  The Pinot was downright nasty:  too old, no fruit, lousy smell - I took a sip just to see if nose and palate did not match-up, but they did ... "waiter, more water".  The Joshua was a totally different story. A Shiraz/Viognier blend that was sublime:  white pepper and cassis on the nose was followed by pepper, cassis, a hint of tar and some burnt toffee notes that replayed in the mouth as it lingered there ... yum (best wine of the evening - if I wasn't speaking I could see myself getting loopy on this one).  

Finally, a Graham Beck 1999 Blanc de Blancs; first bottle was corked and even after I pointed it out to the table many continued to drink it and love it, forewarned is forearmed, but some people just don't understand - of course glassware would have made a difference but I hold out little hope that a banquet hall with invest in good glasses.  A fresh glass was poured for me and it really was a beautiful wine, smells of Dulce de Leche on toast with a palate that proved to be quite nutty with hazelnuts and some baked apple.  Lovely.  

Thanks to the South Africa Wine Society for having me tonight, I had a great time, I hope they did too.  To see pictures of the evening might I suggest heading over to my friend Andy McCraw's website, he's the official photographer of the SAWS, though I think he has doctered the pictures of me to make me look bigger.