Capital Drinking - heading south

Friday, 9 July, 2004
The Dubliner
A blind wine tasting of 34 South African wines comprising of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for sale in Ireland and priced over 12 euro/bottle was led by Liam Campbell from The Dubliner at the French Paradox wine bar in Dublin. WineNews publishes an excerpt from the March 2004 issue of The  Dubliner.

A visit to South Africa cannot fail to move. The stark contrasts she presents to the eye, the ear, the tongue and the heart challenge, delight, shock and bring joy. Above all, she captivates, holds and intrigues. One visit is never enough. Diverse languages of several African and European tribes inhabit this country but one distinct accent is growing. It is found in the vineyards and expressed eloquently in the character of her wines. It is French. That country's classic grape varietals are helping to establish South Africa as a wine producer of world class potential.

This sampling of black grape varietals - emigrants from Bordeaux - showed constancy in quality. All 34 wines tasted were a pleasure to savour and a pity to spit. Like the South African nation, while still finding their identity, their wines are growing in confidence and assertion.

The tasters:
Allan Mullins, Wineonline (contact; Fintan McCormick, Wine Manager, French Paradox; and Liam Campbell, The Dubliner.

Wine of the Month:
Muratie Ansela 2001

Superb aromas of spicy baked plums and cedar wood. This is a Grand Canyon of a wine - it has depth, breadth and commands respect. The different strata of flavours reveal Christmas cake, fruit, cinnamon, cloves - each different but part of the whole. Produced by an estate founded before the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, it uses a quarter Shiraz in the blend to the predominant Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and Cabernet Franc for added interest. Wonderful, refined, superb. Beef stewed slowly a day before in good red wine, cloves, a chilli, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms and served with fromage frais.

Top Ten South African Cabernets and Merlot as chosen by The Dubliner :

Elephant Hill Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2001
Havana Hills Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2001
Havana Hills Du Plessis Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2001
Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2000
Simonsig Tiara 1998
Steenberg Catharina Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1999
Villiera Merlot 2000
Springfield Estate Whole Beery Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Eikendal Classique 2000