Sunday, May 31, 2009

2008 Kleine Zalze Gamay Noir 85 Points

2008 Kleine Zalze Coastal Region Gamay Noir 13.5% 85 Points

Pale ruby cherry red with good clarity and brilliance.

Earthy, cherry raspberry, complex and winey, has “Beaujolais texture, charm and elegance, the fruit richness shows more of a Tarrango grape profile…remisniscent of warm growing condition.

Bright fresh acid, light bodied and refreshing spicy texture on aftertaste. True and honest Gamay Noir style. Great lunch wine served chilled in summer.

By far the finest South African example of Gamay Noir, bottle under screw cap for freshness and cleanliness.

Great lunch wine served chilled in summer, with your favourite assiette of Charcuteries,

Monday, May 25, 2009

1987 La Motte Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 91 Points

1987 La Motte Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 91 Points

Not acknowledge as one of best vintages, 1987 was more favourable for early harvested white grapes (I still remember the 1987 Blanc de Blancs from Klein Constantia Estate, still lively, when last tasted in march 2009) than late harvested varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

A vintage plague by humidity, downy as well as powdery mildew, and the few I have tasted from benchmark cabernet Sauvignon of that era, did not impress, until that bottle of La Motte Estate, which was bought as a gift at Mooiberg farm stall, in Stellenbosch last week.

“Medium clear (after decanting) bright, garnet red with brown rim, medium concentration, some sediment nevertheless, low plus viscosity.

Clean, medium intensity, nose revealing age, tertiary fruit of preserved maraschino cherries, cassis confit, dry straw, spicy note of musk and nutmeg dust, hints of old leather.

Dusty earthiness, with hints of barnyard, surprisingly the oak was initially fragrant, a predominance of sweet vanillin, definitely French, small barrels.
Dry, confirm fruit initially perceived, with earthy note, touch of burnt tobacco, dry tannins, slightly angular, low plus acidity, low plus alcohol, of only 12.5 %, these were the days when South African viticulturist were picking on sugar level, rather than on physiological ripeness, medium finish, with a medium lingering complexity, very claret like.

Surprisingly regarding composition, more of a profile of aged St Emillion, reminds me a lot of the 1989, that’s drinking so well now, rather than the left bank.

So the verdict after 22 years from vintage, this Cabernet Sauvignon, might be a unique case survivor, as not only it’s holding very well for it’s age, but whatever was left in the decanter was re-tasted the following morning, and still going strong.
This Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the valley floor, with a predominance of shale with sandstone and granite, is another testament that good quality driven Cape whites and reds, do have the aptitude to be cellared and improved with time, over the years and certainly by New World standard, is to be applauded.

This Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% grown in Franschhoek was made by the then cellarmaster, Jacques Borman, of which I remember tasting one of his wine, during my second holiday in the Cape in 2000, a 1997 Millenium, a Cape Bordeaux style, was simply mind blowing with it’s tight structure, complexity and length.

28 days dry aged, flame grilled Angus beef fillet, served with baby vegetables a l'Anglaise, lardon, clear jus, enhanced with freshly grounded Sichuan pepper and seasoned with fleur de sel

For more details on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at,

2008 Robertson Winery Pinot Noir 77+ Points

2008 Robertson Winery Pinot Noir 77+

This is the latest release from this huge producer, who have about 1900 ha of vineyards.

Made 100% from Robertson grown Pinot Noir, an area that is warm to hot as a growing region, however what makes the place suitable for growing Pinot is the drastic diurnal differences as well as a large portion of the soil consist of predominantly limestone, with sandy and alluvial particles.

I have been following this wine since 2006, which was a fine debut (85 points) and 2007, more floral, satiny and softer tannins, albeit a touch lighter, but nevertheless a well made Pinot with good varietal profile (83 points).

If there is one thing making this Pinot stand out, is it’s retail price of about R 38, which make it one of the world’s cheapest Pinot Noir, only to be beaten by the Bulgarian……..

So the 2008 reveal:

“Clear, deep mahogany red with slight watery brown rim, medium plus concentration, no evidence of gas, medium viscosity.

Clean, low plus viscosity, primary fruit of sugary ripe cherries, fresh strawberries and red fruits of the forest, followed by hints of dried rose petals, spicy hints of white pepper and notes of old leather, complimented by earthy beetroot.

Large French oak influence, more clean pinot fruit.

Dry to off dry, may be +/- 2.5 grams residual sugar, fruits on the palate confirms nose, perhaps more sour cherries, low plus tannins and low plus acidity, short finish, low complexity.

I suspect there is some shiraz added to beefed up the colour as well as structure, as the colour is too saturated for it to be 100% Pinot Noir, as well as the mid palate has some tightness, nevertheless, it’s a fine introduction to an everyday drinking light bodied red wine, this will complement a variety of dishes such as a platter of flavourful and lightly smoked Charcuteries, served with crusty baguette and crunchy green leaf salad.

As conclusion of my observation, there is indeed a growing market for this style of refreshing light fruity and delicate red, which not only will be excellent offered by the glass, instead of a boring bag in box red wine, but delivers more drinking pleasure Rand for Rand for the Merlot or the Sauvignon Blanc that comes from Robertson Valley

2003 Vrede en Lust Classic 88 - 90 Points

2003 Vrede en Lust Classic 88 – 90 Points

Deep dark ruby red, high concentration, slight purple rim.

Ripe, cassis, earthy notes of sun dried currants, old leather, cedary, and fragrant lead pencil, dark chocolate, very ripe sweet rolling tannins, powerful structure, expansive, lush texture, dry, warming finished.

Blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, spiced up with smidgeon of Petit Verdot and Malbec.

This is a winery to followed as not only their Bordeaux style blend, have personality and purity of fruit, but their subtly wooded Chardonnay, known as Marguerite, is simply stunning and indeed confirms that the stretch of Paarl / Klapmuts / Simonsberg, have produced over the years stunning chardonnay’s fruit, to support my evidence, think of Plaisir de Merle, Backsberg Babylontoren, both Glen Carlou’s, for both Chardonnay's and Bordeaux Style Blends.

If there is one wine that does not do well in that area, and consumer and wine connoisseurs alike, need to be aware, is Sauvignon Blanc, simply too warm, to produce anything of note.

There will definitely be more coverage of that area, as I have more time on hand this winter to taste through, what this ward have to offer.

TOMATO CATERING suggest with the 2003 classic :

Lamb Navarin served with Pommes Boulangere

For more information on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at

2006 Grande Provence Franschhoek Shiraz 85+ Points

2006 Grande Provence Shiraz 85+ Points

Deep dark ruby red, purple rim.

Fragrant coffee, dark chocolate and oriental incense stick, intermingle with toasty smoky red berrie,. Lavender, with good varietal definition, complex.

The tannins are ripe, spicy elegant mouth feel and warming texture, Old World style, will be better from 2012, with optimum drinking around that time until 2014.

100 % Franschhoek Wine of Origin

Recommended to serve at 14 degrees Celsius.

suggest :
Pan fried tripe and veal sausage Andouillettes styles, lightly scented with fresh thyme, served with fried Bombay onions and home made potato chips, tempura peppers stuffed with goat cheese.

For more information on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at

Grande Provence - A Blend of Noble Red Varietals 86 - 88 Points

2005 Grande Provence - A Blend of Noble Red Varietals 86 – 88 Points

Clear ruby red with slight brown rim.

Fragrant with notes of seductive ripe blackcurrant, cassis, plums, and dark chocolate.

Complex spicy minty character intermingle with hints of bourbon vanilla, lends uber appeal
Intense, broad mouth feels, textured, minerally stony essence, torrefied coffee beans, with pronounce lead pencil, might suggest a high percentage of Petit Verdot, the tannins are ripe and grainy, with no sign of greenness here, elegant, has substance and lush, the fruit concentration as well as purity is amazingly intense, and saturated.

Impressive lingering finish.

Unfined and unfiltered, to retain it’s true integrity, needs serious decanting if want to enjoy now, but will be better with +/- 3 years cellaring, will peak around 2017+, but may be enjoyed until 2026, if cellared under optimum condition.

10 hours Slow roasted beef neck, with roasted baby onions, medley of root vegetables, and creamy coarse green and black pepper sauce.

For more information on TOMATO CATERING, please contact Stacey Chan at :

This second release, flagship of Grande Provence, Undisclosed Cape Bordeaux style blend, 100 % Franschhoek grapes.

Was about time, to discover and taste something special, from this scenic valley.

As much as I respect, each wines and every wine region and no debate that Franschhoek is one of the most beautiful and scenic ward of the Cape Winelands, 95 % of the wines lacks proper identity when it comes to site specific wines of excellent quality, fit for listing in fine dining addresses of the world, except for the trail blazing Cape Chamonix Pinot Noir and Reserve Chardonnay, which should be applauded for their consistency and vintage reflection……………..

The handful and the most successful and highly rated wines from Franschhoek Valley, no names should be mention here, those in the know will understand what I am talking here, sadly comes from bought in grapes from other regions, with only a portion from their own vineyard, hence classified as “Wine of Origin Coastal Region or Western Cape”, and the uninformed consumer, local and international alike, always believe they are enjoying Franschhoek wines, which is unfair and wrong.

This does not contribute to the promotion and awareness of the diverse microclimate and so diverse and unique soil structure of the Cape, as “Wine of Origin Coastal Region or Western Cape”, is far too broad to place in context, vis à vis great site specific wines of the world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2009 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show

Dear all,

I’m back online, after 3 weeks break…..

It was a pleasure and an honour again to be asked to be part of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show 2009, experience as an Associate Judge.

What I like about the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, is the wealth of information somebody can learn, in one day judging, the healthy and very very fair debate, where no stones are left unturned and each wine scrutinized at it’s fullest, and merits given accordingly, the number of fresh re-pour as well as the final calibration of each wine.

As a matter of respect to the OMTWS, I will not reveal which panel I sit on, last week, but for a beginner such as myself in the show circuit, it’s an experience, unique in all sense, I will always looked forward in the future.

I have observed over the past 4 years that wines winning a Trophy at the OMTWS, does carry a special appeal to wine consumers, observation based in fine dining context and does indeed get requested and ordered, especially more meaningful on an extensive wine list of over 500 labels, which is quite amazing, so I am definitely looking forward to the Trophies winner, when results will be reveal on the 1st of June, for listing, even if it’s only 1 case…..

Miguel Chan
Certified Sommelier

Press release below, courtesy of Old Mutual

Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show '09 - quest for nation's best
11 May 2009

Judging for the 2009 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show – now widely regarded as the country’s most focused wine competition - took place at Grande Roche in Paarl from 4 to 7 May. Nine panellists – including three from abroad – working in groups of three judges - made their way through the 1 155 submissions from 257 producers.

Old Mutual, headline sponsor of the competition since its inception eight years ago, sees great value in a process which identifies the country’s top wines and makes this information available to the South African wine drinking public.

The wealth management company’s commitment to the Show ensures that judging takes place in ideal conditions and with a panel of tasters which includes several with a long-established international reputation.

Meticulous attention to detail throughout the process is part of how the Trophy Wine Show maintains its reputation as one of the toughest and most rigorous events of its kind in the world.

By hosting a series of Masterclass® and Public Tastings in six major centres in South Africa and one in Namibia over a two week period following the announcement of the competition winners in June, Old Mutual showcases the top wines from the Show to an audience of several thousand people.

The Show's rules and guidelines are detailed in the entry kit and cover certification requirements, the market-readiness of the wines and the composition of the blends.
Technical issues are managed by the show chairman, Michael Fridjhon, while show logistics (including the implementation of the 'blind' (ie unsighted) tasting arrangements, are undertaken by show manager, Celia Gilloway.

Submissions are kept in Miele wine storage units so that they can be brought to the judges at optimum temperature in Riedel tasting glasses. Judges never see the bottles or any aspect of the packaging, ensuring that their opinion is based on the wine's perceived merits and not its image or reputation. Three panels are directed to produce a consensus driven result.

All the wines remain on the tasting bench until the completion of the judging of a particular class.

This enables the jury to back-taste and to compare the evolution of the wine in the glass.

The panel's result is then submitted to the scrutiny of the show chairman and, in the case of the gold medal winners, to all their fellow tasters at the Trophy judging which wraps up proceedings. Prior to the announcement of the results the top wines are submitted to an independent laboratory to confirm that the show sample is identical to the wines which are available through the trade. The judging process and the competition results are monitored and audited by chartered accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

2009 show attracted 1155 entries

The 2009 show attracted 1 155 entries from 257 producers: Shiraz 164 (up on 2008); Chardonnay 95 (96 in 2008), Cabernet Sauvignon 131 (up on 2008), Bordeaux-style Red Blends 113 (114 in 2008), Sauvignon Blanc 113 (up on 2008), Merlot 63 (62 in 2008), Pinotage 65 (up on 2008) and Chenin Blanc 52 (up on 2008). This year also saw 35 Museum class entries (40 in 2008).

The 2008 show saw 1 024 wines judged from 230 producers, with 19 trophies awarded to 16 cellars.

Event partners American Express, British Airways Comair, Grande Roche Hotel, Miele and Riedel enjoy naming rights in respect of some of the trophies.

This year's international judges were: Brian Croser (past President of the Australian Winemakers' Federation), Michel Bettane (France's leading wine critic) and Julia Harding MW (writer and editor for and assistant editor The Oxford Companion to Wine).

The South African panel comprised: Angela Lloyd (wine writer and wine judge), Carrie Adams (wine buyer and co-owner of Norman Goodfellows), Gary Jordan (proprietor and winemaker, Jordan), Christian Eedes (editor WINE Magazine), James Pietersen (WINE Magazine panellist) and Ginette de Fleuriot CWM (national retail sales manager for Wine Worx).

Michael Fridjhon, who has been co-convenor of the show since 2002, continued as chairman of the judges.

Associate judges for this year’s show were selected from South Africa’s new generation winemakers and wine buyers. A different associate judge sat with each panel on each of the medal-judging days of the show. They participated in the tasting and the post-judging discussion, though their scores were not taken into account in the final tally.

Their involvement provides an essential training platform for the country’s wine judges of the future.

This year’s associates were: Miguel Chan (sommelier The Cellars-Hohenort); Rianie Strydom (winemaker Haskell Vineyards); Mark Norrish (wine division general manager, Ultra Liquors); Gareth Robertson (sales manager L’Ormarins); Trizanne Barnard (winemaker and consultant); Howard Booysen (first Cape Winemakers Guild protégé); Higgo Jacobs (sommelier Steenberg Hotel) and Arnold Vorster (Graham Beck Wines).

The results of the competition will be announced in Cape Town on 1 June and the roadshows will run from 2 to 12 June 2009.

Public tastings will take place in Cape Town and Johannesburg to showcase the trophy, gold and silver medallists. The Cape Town tasting is on Friday 5 June from 17h00 to 20h00 at CTICC – Jasminium. The Johannesburg tasting is on Friday 12 June at the Hilton Sandton from 18h00 to 21h00. Tickets are available via Computicket or at the door and cost R80 each if purchased by 2 June or R100 thereafter.

For more information, please visit the Trophy Wine Show website.