The new Platter Guide is out - the 2008 version. For those unfamiliar with this title, it's the pretty comprehensive annual guide to South African wines. It's a densely packed, information-rich tome that is a must-buy for any wine nuts with a strong interest in South African wines. It's not perfect, but it's hard to see how it could be much better.
In honour of its arrival, I opened two rather different South African reds, and then checked their entries in the Platter Guide.
Kloovenberg Shiraz 2005 Swartland, South Africa
At 15% alcohol, this is not a shy wine. While it's not aromatically overpowering, showing sweet lush fruit with a bit of a peppery, earthy edge, as well as a bit of meaty, olive-like character, the palate is full and sweetly fruited, with plummy bitterness allied with high alcohol on the finish. Despite the high alcohol, though, this isn't a wine made in an over-the-top dead fruit and new oak style. It's tilting towards fresh fruit and elegance, and I suspect that the heat is a result of a hot vintage. So judgement reserved a bit: I like it, but wish it had a bit more definition and lower alcohol. 87/100 (UK availability: Laithwaites)
Platter says: 4.5 stars (out of 5) - Northern Rhone-style red lacks some of the sophistication and harmony of previous wines in big 2005 (****) vintage. Very ripe and feshy, yet silky, with black olive notes, fynbos hints and fine tannins. Alcohol (15%) still a little disjointed. 2004 was elegant and seamless. [My comment - they seem to have nailed this one, although the scores are quite generous]
Rickety Bridge Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Franschoek, South Africa
A deep coloured wine that's spent a while in oak, this has a distinctly savoury, slightly medicinal old fashioned (but not unappealing) nose. It's meaty, slightly resinous, spicy and shows sweet dark fruits. The palate is concentrated and dense with prominent earthy, medicinal, spicy, tarry notes. Quite challenging and one for food. I'm not sure whether I really enjoy this old fashioned South African style very much. 82/100
Platter says: 3.5 stars - Harmonious 2002, more savoury, less overt berry character than previous, but food friendly, 30 months French oak, 25% new. [My comment - they haven't tried the 2003, but the fact that this spends so long in oak could explain its rather rustic, medicinal nature.]
Labels: franschoek, south africa, swartland