The Wine Show launched in 2006, making this the 9th edition. In 2013 there were over 9000 visitors to the show at the Sandton Convention Centre, of which I was one. I had a great time, so this year I made my way back to The Wine Show, Joburg, to have a look, and a little taste of some of the over 1000 wines being marketed to Gauteng’s discerning buyers.
The five S’s of wine tasting are seeing, swirling, smelling, sipping and savouring. Then one should spit or swallow depending on whether one is driving home and/or working the next day. I saw, swirled, sniffed, sipped and, sadly, spat my way through a number of taste adventures.
Most of the wine poured actually lands up in one of these.
I stopped off at the Monis stand where they unseated the fuddy duddy image sherry had. (I remember my parents drinking Pale Dry in the sixties, always as a before dinner drink). Sherry is a fortified wine, and Monis’ history in South Africa goes back to 1906 when Roberto Monis started making these fortified wines in Paarl. These wines, no longer allowed to be called “sherry” (because only Spanish fortified wines are really sherry. I taste their Medium Cream Cobbler. It is delicious and very potent. I am wanting to learn more about their other cocktails and will be bringing readers a full article on the Monis wines and some cocktails which can be made using them.
I visited the Wine Extra Theatre for a lecture by Chris de Klerk of the Cape Wine Academy and a blind tasting of Champagnes and Methode Cap Classique bubblies from South Africa. Although there were only five wines I managed to “identify” them by preferring the two French bubblies, although I was not in the slightest bit offended by any of the South African ones either. I have a particular fondness for a glass or two of bubbly at any time of the day or night and accompanied by anything, and our wine master explains why bubbly, and here we were talking the dry pink bubbly, goes so well with so many types of food (it is basically because bubbly doesn’t have a strong taste of its own) and pink bubbly is particularly pleasing with things like smoked salmon because it echoes the colour.
Champagne and Methode Cap Classique bubblies
Bayede! is an interesting label taking their wines from several vineyards. I promise to do an entire article about this fascinating label which sells not only wine, but an interesting take on South Africa’s culture and history. Bayede! is the salute which has greeted the Zulu kings down the line from at least the time of Shaka. Last year in my article on The Wine Show 2013 I identified the social responsibility aspect of the wine industry as an important trend. This whole thing came about purely and simply because of a desire to create work. It really is a tale worth telling in more depth than I can give it here. Interesting that the wines range from the really affordable R30 for whites (that might be the show price I am quoting) and R50 for reds for their “lifestyle” wines with the Zulu shield label to R950 a bottle for their premium wines. Zulu beadwork adorns each bottle, simple beads in the colour of the South African flag for the more affordable range and exquisite beaded love letters for the 7 Icon Wines. They also have a “Zulurala” or King Cyprian (the father of the present king) Marula cream liqueur in the same mould as Amarula, but with a different flavour set. Sells at R104 for a bottle. On a personal note, I found this tasting a little overwhelming as the staff pouring the wines didn’t quite keep up with the commentary and there were a lot of wines to taste.
The Bayede! range
Woolworths is another label which refuses to be tied into just one vintner’s wares and we tasted four different wines ranging from R80 to R150. Wine buyer, Ivan, guided us though the tasting and pointed out that each wine bears the name of the vineyard which produced it on the label. The wine he likes best of the range is the chardonnay. I don’t like chardonnay as a rule, although every so often one surprises me. This one did not. The budget range was not discussed at the guided wine tasting and it was pointed out that Woolworths make, select and blend various wines, being truly part of the creative process. Woolworths, of course, is one of those stores where it is really convenient to add a bottle of wine to one’s shopping cart and for me this provides a major incentive to know what’s in their various bottles.
Woolworths wines ready for tasting.
I took in some of the garagiste (pronounced ‘garajeest”) wines and was intrigued by the passion which was evident. Earthworks Wines point out that real wine connoisseurs don’t merely collect wine, they also collect the stories told over a bottle of good wine. Their wine is called Story Book and it won the Garagiste Trophy in 2012, with a wine called “Chapter 1” and featuring a picture of the granddaughter of Muller Coetzee, one of two friends, the other being Danie van der Westhuizen, involved in this venture. Shawn Thomson is the winemaker. Only 7000 bottles of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon were made and they retail for R140 a bottle.
Garagiste wine beautifully presented.
When I set out I had intentions on focusing on budget wines only, but I found myself seduced by the higher priced wines and even the premium wines. Bear in mind that I am almost exclusively an opportunistic wine drinker in my lifestyle, going out regularly and then consuming the wines which are made available at the function. I live alone and don’t do (much) solitary drinking, and would never open a bottle of wine simply because I cannot finish a whole bottle of wine by myself. Those 250ml bottles of wine used by airlines don’t sell in the liquor stores in a large range. 😦
I promise that I set out to investigate budget wines and then got side tracked
As usual there is so much more to see and taste than it is actually possible to experience. The total food experience is also a point of pride, although at peak time there was not a single seat to be had in the various food areas. I admired the Italian cuisine area at the beginning of the evening, ogling the giant bowl of cheese and the various sauces and other condiments. I bought some fatty sausage to line my tummy against the little bits of wine I was swallowing. I used my food ticket on a selection of soft cheeses and preserves served with a generous portion of olives and bread. That was good value for the R30 ticket. A visit to The Wine Show is a great thing to do and just one of the things that one should do is pick up a free copy of Wine Extra to take home to read and enjoy at one’s leisure, preferably, of course, with a glass of wine in one’s other hand.
Condiments for the Italian foods. I would have tried some but there was nowhere to sit when I wanted to eat.
Every year I learn at least one absolutely random thing about wines, wine tasting and other ancillary stuff. This year I learned that rooibos tea makes a fine palate cleanser. Yes, ordinary rooibos tea served hot, although I suppose rooibos sorbet would also be delicious and do the job.
For me The Wine Show 2014 is over. What a wonderful event.
I also want to compliment the staff of the Sandton Convention Centre who went out of their way to get me a chair on which to sit while waiting for the parking people to sort out the problem of a jam in the parking pay point machine. It is little things like this that make a huge difference to the quality of the pleasantness or otherwise of the outing.