South African Wine

So, You Don’t Like White Wine?

That’s the question we posed to the Fine Wine Divas for our August tasting night.

Most of the ladies are big red wine drinkers. As it’s summer, we thought we’d introduce them to a nice line up whites so they could certainly find something they like.

  • 2010 Argyle Brut (Willamette Valley, OR)
  • 2012 Reunion Torrontes (Salta, Argentina)
  • 2012 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc (Martinborough, New Zealand)
  • 2013 Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino (Sardinia, Italy)
  • 2012 Clos des Lunes “Lune Blanche” (Bordeaux, France)
  • 2013 Wolftrap White White (Stellenbosch, South Africa) 
  • 2012 Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay (Santa Lucia Highlands, California) 
  • 2011 Domaine Eric Forest Pouilly-Fuisse Les Crays (Burgundy, France)

There was indeed something for everyone. And the top two wines of the evening?

2013 Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino

  • Region: Sardinia, Italy
  • Variety: 100% Vermentino
  • Aroma: Citrus, tropical fruits
  • Taste: Rose, melon, spice with nice crispness and honey notes
  • Price: $15
  • My thoughts: This was the hit of the night…a lovely fuller bodied Italian, great pairing with food and great price point!

2013 Wolftrap White White

  • Region: Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Variety:  60% Viognier, 21% Chenin Blanc, 19% Grenache Blanc
  • Aroma: White peach and spice
  • Taste: Rich floral and green apple
  • Price: $23
  • My thoughts: Interesting blend of grapes from The Cape winelands which are located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of six such plant kingdoms in the world.

It was a great evening and everyone walked away with a new wine to enjoy in these final weeks of summer!

Exploring the Wines of South Africa

At our last Fine Wine Divas event, we explored the world of South African wines with Cape Classics, the premier South African wine importer in the U.S.

Cape Classics

From Rosé to Whites to Reds, Cape Classics tasted us through the following line up we tasted through a selection of Cape Classics…

  • Mulderbosch Rose 2013
  • Bayten Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2012
  • Bartinney Chardonnay 2012
  • Glenelly Glass Collection Chardonnay 2012
  • Thelema Mountain Red 2011
  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2011
  • Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The evening’s favorites?

Favorite SA Wines

Bayten Sauvignon Blanc 2013

  • Region: Constantia
  • Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • Aroma: Green fig, gooseberry and lime
  • Taste: Crisp and full-bodied with notes of pepper and herbs
  • Price: $15.99
  • My thoughts: The perfect summer wine, I liked what South Africa is doing with their Sauvignon Blanc.

Thelema Mountain Red 2011

  • Region: Western Cape
  • Variety: Shiraz (41%), Petit Verdot (22%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Merlot (8%), Grenache (6%), Cabernet Franc (3%)
  • Aroma: Black pepper and mulberry
  • Taste: Intense but well-balanced palate with notes of ripe plums
  • Price: $15.00
  • My thoughts: An approachable and great everyday red wine! Would go with a variety of meals.

Kanonkop Pinotage 2011

  • Region: Simonsberg-Stellenbosch
  • Variety: Pinotage
  • Aroma: Blackberry, raspberry, banana
  • Taste: Mocha, smoke, spices, dark ripe fruits, a hint of banana
  • Price: $35.00
  • My thoughts: A beautiful special occasion red.

To learn more about the history of South African wine, check out The Wines of South Africa website. Amongst other resources, this website provides information on how the wine industry has changed in the 20 years since South Africa became a democracy, and the trends and events that are moving them forward.

For more information on Cape Classics, please visit their website.

Cheers to the world of South African wines! Look forward to visiting!

The King of Red: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the BIG six grape varieties, is often referred to as the King of Red. At a January event of the Fine Wine Divas, as we tasted through eight fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon wines from around the world, I was reminded of what makes this grape fabulous!

Cabernet, as it can simply be referred to, is originally from Bordeaux, where the cross of it’s parents, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, arose in the 17th century. It’s genetic parents were only recently discovered. And while many now associate California and Napa with Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux still grows more of the grape than any other region in the world.

What makes Cabernet the King?

  • Cabernet can and does grow almost anywhere. Every country that makes wines, produces a Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • It’s easy to grow and can do so in a range of climates, although it prefers heat and dryer soils.
  • It’s a VERY hardy grape. With thick skins, it’s hard to distort the characteristics. It maintains its flavor and structure very well.
  • Its thick skins also make it resistant to disease.
  • It’s the second most planted grape in the world (Merlot is first).
  • It’s an ideal wine for aging and loves oak aging. With five to ten years being optimal, it’s tannins are soften and new flavor and aroma complexities develop.
  • It’s also great for blending due to it’s big tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignons makes a big wine that becomes silky and elegant with age. They are usually medium to full-bodied with firm tannins and bright acidity. It’s characterized by fruit notes of blackcurrant, cassis, blackberry and non-fruit notes of green bell pepper, cedar and tobacco.

Friday night we tasted around the world, New World (South Africa, Chile, US) and Old World (France).

  • South Africa: 2006 Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chile: 2010 Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto 
  • US/Washington: 2006 L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet, Walla Walla
  • US/Washington: 2008 Buty “BEAST” Phinny Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • France/Bordeaux: 2005 Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux
  • France/Bordeaux: 2005 Château Léoville Poyferré St. Julien
  • US/California: 2008 Ehlers Estate “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon
  • US/California: 2002 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

And while all the wines are truly fabulous, a few stood out as my favorites.

2006 L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet, Walla Walla

  • Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • Aroma: Spiced plum, earthy, leather
  • Taste: Medium-bodied, smoky plum and dried cranberry notes with hints of cocoa.
  • Price: $30
  • My thoughts: Overall Washington state Cabernets are meant to be approachable at a young age. And it’s said they seem to capture the best of France and California in a single wine. This is a fabulous example!

2008 Ehlers Estate “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Variety: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, from St. Helena, Napa, California
  • Aroma: Floral, red berries, spice
  • Taste: Silky wine with notes of black cherries, cinnamon and toffee
  • Price: $90
  • My thoughts: Yum is this a good wine…like chocolate covered cherries! And such a gorgeous bottle! St. Helena is a very historic wine growing region with cultivation dating back to mid-1800s. This vineyard is farmed with strict adherence to organic and biodynamic farming standards. 100% of the proceeds from sales of the wines is returned to the Leducq Foundation, supporting international cardiovascular research. Tastes good and does good!

2002 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

  • Variety:  83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, from California
  • Aroma: Plum, rose, sandalwood
  • Taste: Black plum, berries, tobacco and dark chocolate
  • Price: $99
  • My thoughts: This velvety wine was Rated 91 by Wine Spectator. Silver Oak has been making stunning wines since the early 1970s and this one is divine!

For the group of fifteen Fine Wine Divas, in addition to the Ehlers and Silver Oak, the favorites were 2005 Château Léoville Poyferré St. Julien and 2008 Buty “BEAST” Phinny Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. We had a mix of Old World and New World lovers.

Have a favorite Cabernet? Share it with us here. And if you’re interested in our Fine Wine Divas group in DC, let us know.

Cheers to the King of Reds!

Winesdays Wednesdays

What a brilliant event going on at my local Whole Foods in Alexandria, Virginia every Wednesday! Since the first of the year, they’ve been hosting this 5-7pm event featuring wines from different regions and excellent food pairings.

For only $5 you get a Whole Foods wine glass, five healthy pours of the five featured wines and five sample plates of their five-course menu. If you bring your glass back each week you get $1 off. They also provide you with a little handout of all the recipes.

Last night was my first Winesdays and they were featuring South Africa. Boy, was it packed! As you browse through the store, the five stations are scattered throughout creating a party atmosphere that encourages mingling. And boy was it packed…lines were ten to fifteen people deep. They’ve created quite the event!

Last night’s menu featured…

1st Course: Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc + Cold Bean Salad with Curried Vegetables

  • This and the last course were my favorites of both wine and food.
  • Chenin Blanc is a really nice medium bodied crisp wine, honeysuckle and lime aromas and taste.

2nd Course: Rustenberg Chardonnay + Grilled Turmeric and Yogurt Chicken

  • Chardonnay is a medium bodied wine with a hint of oak on the nose, light buttery mouth feel with citrus and spice.
  • The spice in the chicken cut the slight oak in the wine and brought out vanilla and more citrus.

3rd Course: Riebeek Cellars Pinotage + Spiced Lamb and Tomato Stew

  • Pinotage is medium bodied with plum and subtle oak pairing nicely with the stew’s spices.

4th Course: Warwick Three Cape Ladies + Braised Corn and Lima Beans with Potatoes

  • This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage is a full bodied wine of dark berry flavor and a touch of spice.

5th Course: Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz + Pound Cake

  • The juicy berry of this wine truly tastes like jam.
  • It was a perfect pairing in the glass AND as the topping poured over the pound cake…yum!

According to the Whole Foods team, attendance is growing each week. I’m looking forward to my next one and taking a few friends along.

Cheers to Winesdays!

Bored Doe & Goats Do Roam?

Bored with your usual French Bordeaux or Côtes du Rhône wines? Mix it up with these fun light-hearted South African wines.

I picked up a bottle of Bored Doe recently as the name gave me a giggle and reminded me of my April trip to Bordeaux, France.


Bored Doe and Goats Do Roam are produced by the Goats Do Roam Wine Company, part of the Fairview Winery, a 3rd generation family owned wine and cheese farm, in the Paarl wine district of South Africa about 45 minutes from Cape Town. The Goats Do Roam wine, a Côtes du Rhône-style bend, was created in 1999 as another label of Fairview.

“It all started with a suggestion by a wine buyer to Fairview Winery owner Charles Back. The man humorously suggested creating a Rhône-style blend called “Goats do Roam”. Back saw this as an ideal opportunity to explore areas of the Cape winelands yet untapped. The finished product was always going to be more Cape than Rhône as Back is proudly South African but he also has a quirky sense of humour, which led to the creation of the first Goats Do Roam label. Many with great amusement interpreted this as a friendly jibe at the French but ‘Not so’, says Back.”

So where does the name come from? “The ‘legend’ goes that some errant members of Fairview’s long-established goat herd got out when Charles Back’s son and friend left open the gate to the paddock. The little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting the ripest berries off some of the choicest vines.” Sounds like the Yemen goat herder who’s goats discovered the first coffee beans. 🙂

Goats do Roam wines hit the U.S. in 2000 amidst protest from the French government regarding the registering of the trade names in the U.S.  After initially threatening to block distribution, the French withdrew their protest because of the media coverage it was generating. It all worked out… Goats do Roam wines are the highest selling South African wines in the U.S.

There are currently 12 wines in the line up including red, white and rose. Bored Doe Vintage 2008 is a combination of 4 wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc creating a red wine that is heavy in the glass (14% alcoholl) with nose and taste of red fruits, tobacco and oak.

Cheers to a giggle with your glass!