Drunk, Visited

I went to the Golden Triangle in a Shower. Now you can make ‘golden shower’ jokes.

So as you know I was supposed to be visiting Adi Badenhorst yesterday. I was going to take a slow drive to the Swartland whilst letting Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy audio book fill my earballs. There would of been some barrel tasting, some humorous banter on camera, and possibly a lunch squeezed in at Bar Bar Black sheep. Alas, sickness befell Adi and when I called him he was coughing and spluttering from his bed.

As I my bags were packed and I was ready to go – or in this case the cappuccino was  sitting in the cup holder and Stephen fry was telling me about Babel fish –  I thought I would head into the wine lands anyway.

SDC10283So I struck out on the N2 through the rain and mist toward the Helderberg and the Golden Triangle (the three points being the Stellenbosch Mountains, Helderberg Mountains and the R44)  My first stop was at Grangehurst. I felt in need of some aged reds and I do not have a time machine. So the next best thing is to buy wines that are released when they have already spent some time in the bottle. Grangehurst oblige in this department. I lost my tasting notes somewhere between Rust en Vrede and Ken Forrester so no descriptions today. I bought a bottle of the 2002 Pinotage which has a dab of Cabernet added – a cunning ploy I believe. Tasting fee was R30 but was waived as I made a purchase.

Next I drove to Dornier en route to De Trafford. I stumbled through the downpour and found my way to the tasting room.

SDC10285 Come rain or shine, I’ll drink.

Being the only person there I received the full attention of the tasting attendant. This is not something I particularly enjoy.

“So in this wine you’ll find berries, cherries, and tobacco blah blah blah”

Let ME find it damnit! Your blathering hinders my imagination. What typically happens is that as I close my eyes and sniff, letting the aromas slowly filter up my nostrils, an unwelcomed voice kicks down the doors and starts blabbering on about pears and bananas like a recitation of a Fruit and Veg City shopping list. I don’t mean to pick on Dornier, loads of places do it. And it is stupid, unhelpful, meaningless, and downright presumptuous. Who the fuck do you think you are telling me what to smell? Hey? My nose. My brain. If I am smelling the inside of my standard 3 school desk then so be it. I don’t give a poodles arse about your kumquats and honeysuckle. Tell me how it was made, something about the terroir, the viticulture or the colour of the wine maker’s underwear . Whatever, just don’t tell me what to taste or smell.

Ah, a lighter chest.

The wines at Dornier were pretty good. The entry level Chenin 2009 was clean and fresh; like crisp, starched white shirts: useful, enjoyable, but a dime a dozen. The Pinotage was too milky for me, not sure how useful malolactic was there; like a slightly bitter strawberry milkshake with a hole in the mid-palate. So really like a bitter strawberry milkshake in the shape of a doughnut. (And the award for most bullshit tasting note goes to…..)

The 2008 Donatus White was my favourite. A blend of Chenin (Swartland) and Semillon (forgot to ask) it showed a clever balance, sleek and waxy. A smart alec with a smirk and thoroughly enjoyable.  Tasting fee was R30 for 5 wines which was also waived as I bought a bottle of the Donatus.

Back in the car I drove up on to De Trafford. Thoughts of rich Chenins and delicate straw wines bounced around my skull just as the car bounced around the muddy dirt roads as I did my Sébastien Loeb impression. But Lo! A sign loomed into view. The car slid to a stop as the thoughts of delicious of De Trafford wines flew out my head. They are only open on Fridays and Saturdays.

Dejectedly I turned the car round and headed back the way I came. I hate retracing my steps, so I took a different road . This led me past the grand entrance of Stellenzicht.

SDC10299Da da daaaaa

I really liked Stellenzicht. They offer some good value reds and an old school tasting environment. The tasting room is the wine version of That 70’s Show. Check this shit:

SDC10297All they need is some orange curtains.

I think the Golden Triangle Pinotage 2007 is a great effort. It had lots of typical Pinotage fruits, without any of the bitterness I find in most. I was surprised I liked it so much. Kind of like when I exercised this one time, despite the aches, pains, and shortness of breath it was quite fun. The Reserve Semillon 2007 was another winner. Bought a few bottles and the tasting fee was again waived.

Next stop was Peter Falke Wines. I was not familiar with these wines before yesterday and to be honest I wasn’t blown away; anything I was zephyred a millimeter. The tasting room is chic, opulent, and very shiny. Over designed in my opinion. It got me thinking about where we taste our wines, what we are listening to, what the weather is like and all the other seemingly extraneous elements that can effect our tasting experience. I felt I was being rather generous to all the wines I tasted because of the weather. Sitting in a cosy tasting room while the rain lashes against the windows seems to increase the enjoyment of full-bodied Cabernets.

Gallery 04 This – coupled with Michael Buble – did nothing to help the somewhat pallid cabs.

I enjoyed the Sauvignon Blancs though. They all have spent an extended period on the lees which gives a great rounded texture. There is also a great bargain here at the moment : R35 for a bottle of the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc – this I think has had a touch of Oak and having spent four years in the bottle is drinking rather nicely. It is restrained and has more elegance than the new out the box zing-monsters everyone seems to love. It is not excellent, but for R35 it is:

cheap as chips

What pissed me off was that even though I bought four bottles of the stuff they still charged me the R50 tasting fee. So that would be a tasting room fail.

A quick aside: these guys have one of the biggest bullshit lines on their website. This refers to the shiny labels on their top end range:

The Signature range features a contemporary, mirrored label to attract the discerning wine connoisseurs

What? Do you think they are implying discerning wine connoisseurs are narcissistic and would be attracted to these bottles because of their reflections? On second thought maybe not such a bullshit comment after all.

My penultimate stop was at Rust en Vrede . These are top-end wines, there is no disputing that. They are however, beastly. Not in the “Oh shaun stop it, you’re being beastly” kind of way; more in the ‘these wines are big assed, high alcohol, heavily oaked beasts’ kind of way. I tasted the full range – it costs R50 but is well worth it; there are tasting staff who actually work in the cellar, the music is tasteful, and the glassware lovely. The wines I encountered jumped out the glass, which reminded me of Dirk Niepoort’s comment of how he liked wines he had to jump into the glass to find.

The 2006 Estate Wine – 60 Cab%, 30% Shiraz, and 10% with a mix of new Frog and Yankee Oak – was good with a rugged depth and a firm handshake, but the alcohol at around 15% was a little too much for me. The R1200-a-bottle 1694 2007 was the most balanced of the lot with a great depth of fruit amongst the sweet vanilla, spice, and all things nice. The alcohol seemed to managed best here. Serious wines that have gained a a reputation as big as themselves, but for me they need a little more time.

On my way back to town I pulled into Ken Forrester Wines to pick up some older bottles of Chenin. This is one of my favourite little tasting rooms when the weather is bad. A little stove burns keeping the small but cosy room toasty, and the tastings are free. Luckily for me there was a pommy wine professional of some sort – she reminded me a little of Bridget Jones – which meant there were some tank samples about, as well as a bottle of the NLH (gloriously fresh, with not a touch of goupiness) that I tasted. I bought a bottle of the 2001 and 2002 Chenin, which I will taste and describe at a later date.

Pick of the day? Grangehurst Pinotage 2002, Dornier Donatus 2008, and driving into this forest in the rain.

SDC10301

In the middle of the forest you will find an elf. The elf will give you a key. The your destiny is behind the door that the key opens.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “I went to the Golden Triangle in a Shower. Now you can make ‘golden shower’ jokes.”

  1. Hi there
    I like your style. Will tell the tasting room staff not to bother you or any one else in future. I always wondered if the blurb is good or bad. Now I know.
    I will have to re-taste that Pinotage 07. Malo is not just for taste but also for wine stability.
    Glad you liked the Donatus White.
    Regards,
    Raphael

  2. Hi Raphael, thanks for reading.

    It’s not that I do not like interaction with the tasting staff. It’s just being told what flavours can be found in the wine as I am tasting that is infuriating.

    I did get a bit carried away with my rant, but it is something that drives me mad.

    Information and context is great, and informed people working in tasting rooms are vital. I just don’t want to be told what to taste.

    Look forward to visiting again soon.

    H

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s