Well, the tasting went wonderful....I had so much fun! I always have a great time at these wine parties, since I'm so not shy! I love encouraging people to sample and educate them on what they're tasting in a fun way. And - I was concerned that my South African knowledge may not be as strong as it should be, so it was quite comforting when the Consul was there, and he complimented me on my "excellent grasp" on the nuances on the wines and the reasonings behind them (e.g. climate, American culture, grape blends) etc. Whew......
So, for those of you who would like to know what we tasted, here's a brief "in a nutshell" breakdown/description. Consider it a "virtual sip", if you will.
Graham Beck Railroad Red Reserve Shiraz 2003: This Shiraz is not as big as most Shiraz' tend to be. It's rich in color, but falls short on the big round taste that it's Australian cousin has. This Shiraz leans more towards it's other cousin, Syrah - and this particular Shiraz actually pairs better with lambs, stews and game foods which is more typical of Syrah; whereas an Australian Shiraz pairs great with barbecue and hearty beef. If you like Syrah, this SA Shiraz is your choice.
Wildekrans Pinotage: Pinotage is the signature wine of South Africa. Either one likes Pinotage, or one doesn't - very few fall in the middle. This particular Pinotage is softer than most - it's been blended very well so that it suits American palates moreso than other Pinotages. This style of wine usually has a "twist" - it dances on your tongue (I love Pinotage). However, this particular Pinotage is something you would enjoy if you enjoy Merlot.
David Frost "Gene Sarazen" Cabernet Sauvignon 2000: This is a good tasting Cabernet, however, it is not a big one; so if you are a fan of traditional Cabernet, you may find this falls short. Pleasant tasting, great color - but just not big. It's sweet and jammy, and after being decanted - it opens up some; but truly should be held a little while longer to drink.
Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc: Not quite as crisp and acidic as a New Zealand SV, but quite nice. A good fruit flavor when served room temperature; chilled- it's a little thin. Pineapple and Melon on the finish. Decent enough, but if you're a classic NZ SV fan - this you will not love.
Graham Beck"Pinno" Unoaked Chardonnay: (I love unoaked Chard!) South Africa is catching on to the trend of steel casking their Chardonnay as Australia and NZ have done. This tastes more typical of a SV than a Chardonnay because it's so full, and has a nice acidity to it. Chardonnay is up and coming in the South Africa wine making circles - it's always been secondary to the Sauvignon Blanc. Unoaking it - will bring it forward in the drinking trends. Crisp, fruity and round. If you'd like to try a very interesting unoaked Chardonnay -not South African - try Kali Hart. Let me know what you think.
Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc: This wine is one that is not being produced much by South African wine farms because it's quite difficult to produce one that is not too thin. This is a very full bodied Chenin Blanc - and for those who don't normally like white wine - this particular Chenin Blanc is a good one to try. It's tight and dry - but sweet.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of South Africa....Cheers!