Notes on wines from the 30th Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

The Cape Winemakers Guild was formed in 1982, and its first auction in 1985 involved 13 winemakers and 18 wines. The guild was formed when South African wine was at a very different stage, in international isolation, with an industry dominated by two big players. The idea was to help lift standards by sharing [...]

Craig Hawkins: Testalonga and Lammershoek

Craig Hawkins (pictured above with significant other Carla Kretzel in the background) is one of South Africa’s most talented and brave winemakers. He’s the winemaker at Lammershoek, and also makes his own wines under the Testalonga label. He’s very experimental, and has worked a lot with skin contact and lees. He prefers picking earlier, making [...]

Some wines from a weekend away

Just been away for a weekend with family, staying in a lovely house in Puddletown, Dorset. It wasn’t a wine geeky sort of weekend, so I brought along some good solid wines that delivered a lot of pleasure, without being at all wine nerdy.

Marks & Spencer Macon-Villages Uchizy 2013 Burgundy, France
From Raphael Sallet, 13% [...]

From the road in South Africa: Delaire Graff and 96 Winery Road

I’m on my way home from a brief trip to South Africa to judge a Chenin Blanc competition. I spent just two nights here, although because of the overnight flights this translated into the best part of four days on the ground. Both nights were spent at the fabulous Delaire Graff estate, in one of [...]

Consider Chenin

For the last couple of days I have been judging the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, held at Klein Zalze in Stellenbosch. 126 different wines were entered, and the panel of five, chaired by Cristian Eedes, tasted all of them, and then retasted the top 32 wines to select 10 winners. So here [...]

Off to South Africa again

So this evening I am flying to South Africa again. Just for a few days this time. And I’m going while it’s winter there, which is bad planning. There’s nothing like a dose of summer dropped into February or March to raise the spirits. Fortunately, Cape Town winters are pretty much like bad English summers, [...]

A classy natural South African - JM Meyer's Ivory White

I don’t know a great deal about this wine, other than it’s a naturally made my Johan Meyer, who makes the wines of Mount Abora and Meerhof. Johan is based in the Swartland but for his own wines he sources from vineyards further afield. 1000 bottles of this were made and the UK agent is [...]

Vin de Constance, one of the world's great sweet wines

Yesterday I had the chance to taste, for I think the third time, the 2008 Vin de Constance. I didn’t spit my sample.

This is one of the world’s great sweet wines. It’s made by Klein Constantia, and it’s a wine that has been made to replicate, as closely as possible, the famous Constantia wines of [...]

Lanzerac Pinotage 1966

Had an excellent tasting at lunch at High Timber today, focusing on older South African Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. It was really cool to be able to try this bottle, in particular – the Lanzerac 1966 Pinotage – because it’s older than me, and it’s still in great condition. This wouldn’t have been an expensive [...]

Two lovely whites from M&S: Ferricrete Sauvignon and Earth's End Riesling

Two lovely white wines, cool climate, new world.

Paul Cluver Ferricrete Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Elgin, South Africa
13.5% alcohol. Very bright and focused with subtle green herbs, lemons and grapefruit characters. Sophisticated, pure and linear with bright minerality. 91/100 (£11.99 Marks & Spencer)

Earth’s End Riesling 2013 Central Otago, New Zealand
12.5% alcohol. Made by Riesling experts Mount [...]