Despite my travails in recent weeks, I haven't been totally abstemious on the wine front. After all, under any circumstances, life is too short to avoid the finer things for too long! Here's a trio of noteworthy wines we have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks (I'll add a few more in the next couple of days).........
The Liberator Episode 4 - The Pie Chart 2011, Stellenbosch
Richard's labels are never less than quirky and amusing - not to mention eye-catching - but this one is the best yet. The teacher pig, the rather unequal pie chart and the confused rabbit would suggest that the proportions of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon may or may not be 50/50. I guess I'd better ask Richard for clarification. But whatever the proportions, this is a lovely wine - really fresh on the nose, with lots of zingy lemon, elderflower, cut grass and wet stone/mineral aromas, with subtle notes of herbs and creamy orange. The palate too is wonderfully fresh and citrus-tinged, with plenty of concentration and amazingly mouth-watering acidity. It is rare for a Cape wine to be quite so similar in profile to its northern hemisphere counterpart - in this case, a bit of a ringer for a rather good white Bordeaux. And although I have never been a fan of the red Bordeaux style, this one is right up my street. Indeed, it gets better and better with more air, and by the second day, it is really singing. Intense, grassy, pea pod and elderflower aromas, with a real "prickle", even on the nose, with hints of orange and tart apple. The palate too seems even more intense, focused and grippy than on day 1, with all sorts of white fruit, gooseberry and rhubarb things going on. It really is delicious stuff! 14.0% abv.
Note/disclaimer: This was a sample bottle, which Richard asked me to share amongst his old buddies at the Nottingham Wine Circle. Suffice to say it was very well received, and I hope to add some to my list in the near future (priced somewhere between £11 and £12).
The Liberator Episode 2 - The Unsung Hero 2008, Swartland
A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Carignan. This is another bottle given to me by Richard, primarily because the previous review I wrote was less than enthusiastic - and he suspected that the bottle I had may have been faulty in some way. And how right he was, because this one was quite lovely. Still quite a deep blood red colour, with an aromatic profile not too far removed from a northern Rhone Syrah, with some intense but elegant bramble and blackcurrant aromas and a suggestion of minerality. Or perhaps even one of the more refined southern Rhone blends, with a rich fruitcake element, courtesy of the Grenache and Mourvedre, and a welcome touch of earthy rusticity from the Carignan. The palate is rich, but finely balanced, with concentrated dark fruit flavours, damp earth, pepper and exotic spice, combining seamlessly with slightly grainy tannins (which for me adds texture) and mouthwatering acidity. The finish is long, grippy and gently warming. It is such a shame that my first bottle was faulty, because on this showing, I definitely would have snapped a few cases up. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. :-(
100% Carignan. A hint of brett/meatiness on the nose, which blows off quickly to reveal aromas of roses and parma violets, damsons, damp earth, mint, spice and a delicious hint of raspberry vinegar (a la Chateau Musar). At 12.3% abv, this was probably harvested earlier than usual and some may find the heightened lemon and rhubarb-tinged acidity too much, but not me! It is full of fruit, like raspberries and redcurrants, with hints of black fruits too, with plenty of fine tannin, all of which combine in a deliciously tangy sweet and sour whole. The acidity should soften in time and ensure a long (10-15 year) life for this wine. At present, it is best paired with food (in our case, a rich spaghetti bolognaise). A lovely, old-style wine, combining elements of Rhone, Burgundy and Piedmont. I love it. £20.50 via my website.