06 November 2008

Three W’s – Warwick, Welmoed & Wolf

My home town of Snorbens is lucky to have a fine independent wine shop in Flagship Wines which is owned and operated by Julia Jenkins who chucked in her high-powered position as wine buyer for Sainsbury’s supermarket to go it alone.

Julia organises many functions and for this past month she has focused on South Africa with shippers and winemakers presenting tastings of wines from Lourensford, Slow Wines, Welmoed, Graham Beck, Kumkani, Warwick Estate, Painted Wolf and more.

I couldn’t let the ebullient Jeremy Borg, owner and winemaker of the new Painted Wolf wines, visit Snorbens without saying hello so I picked up my crutches and dragged my broken leg along to Flagship Wines.

Jeremy was in great form and ,as well as his Pinotage and Cape Blend already opened for the tastings, he had some unlabelled bottles of some new wines he’s working on which he specially opened and poured. A Viognier based blend was invitingly aromatic.

Of course I bought some bottles of Painted Wolf, then Julia mentioned out she had a consignment of Warwick Estate Old Bush Vine Pinotage – which is an old favourite of mine from way back – so without even looking at it I asked her to add a few bottles to my order. Then Julia pointed out an offer on Welmoed Pinotage, discounted to two for £5. I’d had a Welmoed Pinotage a long time ago and it wasn’t a name that impressed. Julia told me that Welmoed was one of the brands of the company of wine people, a name that irritates me no end with its insistence on all lower case letters with different coloured 'p's.

My leg was aching and I let off some moans about the company’s stupid name, and that Welmoed was an anonymous brand made who knows where from who knows what by who knows who (whereas I had walked among Warwick’s old bush vines, and knew who made Painted Wolf). Jeremy let me run out of steam before quietly telling me that he had done work for the company of wine people and that he thought that Welmoed was a pretty good Pinotage for the price. Suitably chastened, I bought a couple of bottles.

And you know what? Jeremy was right. Welmoed Pinotage 2007 turned out to be a jolly enjoyable wine with no rough edges, clean fresh and modern with an attractive raspberry fruitiness. And another plus was that it was closed with a screwcap.

The Warwick was also a surprise. The WO wasn’t the expected Stellenbosch-Simonsberg, which is where Warwick Estate is located and an appellation that owner Mike Ratcliffe had campaigned for, but the wine was labelled as Stellenbosch WO and the back label said that it was made by Warwick Cellars. Warwick Cellars – WTF? Examining the labels in detail I noticed that the word Estate appeared nowhere, and so this wasn’t the Estate wine I thought I’d bought -- the wine made from those 40 year-old bush vines whose vineyards I’d been describing to Julia and Jeremy. This wine was made at Warwick from some, or all, non-estate grapes. Looking carefully at Warwick’s website it seems that 2003 was the last vintage made from Estate grapes, but one is invited to “Download the Warwick Estate Pinotage 2005 fact sheet” and the fact sheet is headed Warwick Estate so there is opportunity for confusion.

But in the glass – wow, this Warwick ‘Cellars’ old bush vine Pinotage 2005 (we now don’t know how old) is tremendous stuff. Complex with different levels of flavours, soft wood tannins underneath, blackberries, a little dark chocolate and a dusting of coffee but always dense black fruits to the fore. Indeed, it was so good that the following day we couldn’t think of any wine we’d prefer to drink so for the first time I can ever recall at Pinotage Club Towers we drank the same wine on two consecutive two nights.

And Painted Wolf? I bought the 2007 Pinotage which I preferred to the (less expensive) Cape Blend. There’s lots going on; as I wrote back in June it is a galumphing big wine and after drinking a bottle, although very enjoyable, I think that needs more time in the bottle for all its flavours to completely meld together, so I’m sticking away the rest of the bottles I bought for a year.

So my visit to see Jeremy and Julia resulted in some surprises for me. So I headed back to to Flagship Wines to stock up on more Welmoed and Warwick Pinotages, but Julia had sold out of Welmoed and was waiting for another delivery. So I paid, collected the Warwick and I'm now waiting for Julia to deliver the Welmoed.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous13:49

    Be careful what you say/think about Welmoed! :-)

    We used to deliver grapes to them when we were still neigbours to Blaauwklippen on our smallholding (now Cape Hutton. And they made an excellent wine from them.

    That was still before the days of your favourite "p" brand!