13 February 2009

L'Avenir and Writers Block in Jukes' Top 50

Matthew Jukes just published Top 50 South African wines includes two Pinotages, Flagstone Writer's Block 2006 and L'Avenir Grand Vin 2006

Matthew is author of several wine books and wine correspondent for the UK's Daily Mail national newspaper.

Of the 2006 Flagstone Pinotage he says
The most expressive Writer's Block ever has me gushing thank goodness. Seamless, hedgerow and boot polish notes bombard your palate and there isn't a touch of unwanted earthiness in sight.

L'Avenir's premium Grand Vin 2006 elicits
With almost Barolo-like, enigmatic flair, this distinguished Pinotage stalks your taste buds one by one, converting every one in its path to its cause.

In the UK Writer's Block retails at £15 and the L'Avenir Grand Vin is an eye-watering £26.

The Top 50 is on Matthew's releaunched web-site at http://www.matthewjukes.com/?p=224 athough a coding error is preventing display at the time of writing (hint, use view source)

07 February 2009

Winemaker Ben Dugdale talks about Pinotage (video)

Ben Dugdale is winemaker at Karikari Estate, New Zealand's most northerly. He showed me around the estate in December 2008 (see my report here) but I didn't have the bandwidth while travelling to upload this video of him in his Pinotage vineyard

In the video he talks about growing Pinotage and why he is planting some more. The berries are small and green because this was filmed in December. They'll be ready for harvesting soon.

Ben uses the following terms:

Veraison - that is when the grapes ripen and change colour to black

Brix - is a measurement of sugar in the grape. A finished wine will have an alcohol level a little over half the brix reading. So when Ben measures 24 brix thats teling him those grapes would produce 12.5-13% alcohol by volume.

01 February 2009

Saam Pinotage for Red Nose Red

Red Nose Day is a major bi-annual fund raising event for Comic Relief in the UK. The red nose refers to a the bulbous scarlet facial appendage worn by clowns and was adopted as a symbol by the professional comedians who started Comic Relief in 1985.

The wine business has always been an active supporter, in the past running a parallel ‘wine relief’.

For 2009' two Red Nose wines have been launched, both sourced from South Africa’s Saam Mountain Vineyards near Paarl. Red Nose White is a Chenin Blanc and Red Nose Red is a Pinotage blended with some Shiraz (an ancient French cross between Dureza and Mondeuse blanche).

Red Nose Red Pinotage/Shiraz 2008 is a tremendously attractive wine with a scented nose, brimming with ripe loganberry fruit flavours, and an almost jammy sweetness.

Tasting notes for the wine from Jancis Robinson MW and Tim Atkins MW read "This hearty and full bodied red brims with goodwill, bramble perfume and raspberry fruit. Drink with friends and partner it with anything you feel like eating."

But I think my friend Andy Barrow over at Spittoon has really nailed it. Andy likens the wine to picking blackberries in hedgerows. I went blackberrying last summer and and he has it spot on.

The wine costs £4.99 in UK supermarkets of which £1 goes to Comic Relief. But don't think of this as a bargain basement £3.99 value wine. Importers Bibendum reckon that, without the donations of those involved in producing the wine it would be priced above £6. "SAAM, Erbin and Multiprint provided wines, capsules and labels respectively at cost, while JF Hillebrand, Quinn Glass and all of the retailers are working at reduced margins," they say.

At not extra cost, Red Nose wines come with an art work by Damien Hirst. The label is a Hirst work titled A Red Nose, being a raised shiny red circle on a dull matt grey background. The label on my wine easily peeled off, so get a frame and you can have a Hirst work on your wall. Much better than a pickled shark :)

Good wine, designer art and charity, all in one £4.99 bottle. Rush out and buy.