Archive for the 'South African Wine' Category

2009 ZAP Festival Tasting in San Francisco

01312009I’m not going to make this a long post, but I just wanted to give a quick update to our SF trip. Today marked the third year in a row that both Graham and I have made the trek down to San Francisco for the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP for short) Festival Tasting at the Fort Mason Center.

There’s a reason we head here every year – it’s FUN. The thing about Zinfandel seems to be that it’s the least threatening of the wine varietals. It tends to be jammy and fun, so the people who are drawn to it tend be unpretentious sorts. That was certainly true this year. Everyone from the winemakers to the volunteers seemed to have fun at the fest.

We hit the floor at 10am for the start of the media and trade tasting and stayed until around 2:30… a lot of that time spent up in the handy media lounge pouring our own samples and taking notes. We spent quite a bit of time hanging out with Shea Coulson from Just-Grapes – another Vancouver-based (but down in Berkeley for the next few months) wine geek and a heckuva’ nice guy.

We were all impressed with the quality of the wines this year. They seemed a bit more in balance and complex. Having said that though, I’ll be up-front and say that my favourites were hit-you-over-the-head fruit bombs. Mazzocco, Turley, Woodenhead and Ravenswood had standouts along with a bunch of smaller producers. The quality of the wine being poured was pretty bloody high.

Another thing that Graham just reminded me of was that all the big-boy producers were pouring full line-ups – from 5 – 10 wines and all of the were great. It was “Mmmm” after “Wow.” Ridge, Ravenswood, Renwood and Mazzocco had multiple wines on the table that just reminded me why I love this grape.

We did run into a few detractors of the wines’ styles, but you know what? If you don’t like your wines diverse – sometimes lean slky and complex but  sometimes huge and jammy, don’t go to the Zin tasting. ‘Nuff said.

I’ll be back next year… and here’s a little shout out to Julie Ann Kodmur and the ZAP folks for the great time we had at ZAP 2009.


Wine – 2004 Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon

The first word that came to mind when I sipped this wine was “delicious“. It was just that… not too tannic, in need of aging or anything else. It was simply bloody tasty.

I grabbed it a week ago at Liberty Wine Merchants at Granville Island and had been looking to taste it the entire time I had my cold… thank God that has finally disappeared.

It’s not completely New World… or Old World for that matter. It’s got the juicy softness of an aged Cabernet and the ripe fruit of a California wine… without the hard oak-driven edge that a good California Cab has.

The colour is a medium red. The nose is sexy. It has dark berries, chocolate, red currant and an herbal edge. The flavours are addictive – there’s an almost sweet edge to the berry/currant fruit and the finish stays about as long as an unwanted visitor (without the negatives).

This is a fantastic wine. I seriously couldn’t have enjoyed it much more (especially for the money). Go get some.

$38 at Liberty Wine Merchants here in Vancouver.

4 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2001 Rust en Vrede Shiraz, Stellenbosch

12302006.jpgWhat do you get if you take a good Syrah from France’s Rhône Valley and cross it with a peppery, fruit-forward Australian Shiraz? Well, the end result of that marriage would taste a whole lot like this wine. It has the rustic minerality of the Rhone wine and the meaty full-bodied fruit of the Aussie Shiraz… and you know what? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all. In fact, I love it.

This was the 2nd South African wine I picked up at Liberty Wines yesterday, and I’m happy I did.

When poured in a glass, the wine is an impressive dark red with an opaque look… obviously the folks at Rust en Vrede didn’t filter it. I like that.

The nose: imagine a dark chocolate cherry tart served on a stone plate… dark fruit with a mineral edge.

The taste of the wine is all sexy dark fruit wearing a new leather jacket with a pocket full of black pepper. The leather adds a rustic edge to the impressive, but not over-sweet, dark cherry fruit. The finish stays with you for a while…. and you won’t want it to leave.

OK, to sum it all up – I loved this wine. It’s in my top 5 for the year, without a doubt. This is bloody good stuff.

$40 at private wine shops (again – Liberty) here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2003 Firefinch Ripe Red

12292006.jpgI wandered into the little treasure trove that is the Liberty Wines shop on Granville Island today. It’s a great little store that has a fantastic selection of hard-to-find wines packed into their small space.

While browsing, I came across an interesting selection of South African wines and realized it has been years since I’ve drunk a wine from there… so, I picked up a couple of bottles that caught my attention.

First up is the 2003 Firefinch Ripe Red. Now anyone who knows me, knows I like the slutty reds, so having “Ripe Red” in the name of the wine was all that was needed for this wine to make its way into my shopping bag.

This wine is from the Robertson wine region east of Cape Town. It’s an interesting blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Ruby Cabernet (a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan). What was also very interesting to me was the nose of the wine – it had a definite edge of chili pepper. I half expected it to be spicy.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Instead, it’s a mouthful of ripe cherry mixed with raspberry-laced green tea with a good dose of tannins. Very interesting… and I think, very good. This tastes unlike any other wine I’ve had in recent memory, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Welcome to the site, South Africa.

$26.99 in private wine shops (Liberty) here in BC.

4 stars