I recently took a trip to South Africa, and as wine lovers are apt to do, I filled my suitcase with wine sleeves so that I could bring a taste of Africa back with me. Of course, as wine lovers are also apt to do, there was more wine purchased than wine sleeves brought and I had to wrap a few bottles in towels…
Once I got my little stash of wine safely across a few continents, I planned a night to have some wine loving friends over to help me drink a few of them. I thought it would be cool to set it up as a real tasting – pouring a splash of each wine for my friends so they could taste them without overwhelming their palettes. Ironically, I had so many people choose to come that viagra australia
a splash of each was all that ended up being available anyways.
The first wine we had was the only white I brought back, Beau Constantia's 2012 Cecily
. A light, crisp Viognier that I got to enjoy on a beautiful day at the winery. I am normally not a fan of Viognier. It's a little too light and sweet for me but the day I had it in South Africa was absolutely perfect. The winery was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen, tucked away in the hills of the Constantia wine region. Having such a light wine was incredibly refreshing as my years living in San Francisco has made me unsuited for anything warmer than 80 degrees (you'd never believe I grew up in LA). Enjoying the wine on a much
cooler evening in my apartment and being able to share it with my friends while showing them photos of the Beau Constantia estate really brought back those sentiments . It was definitely a great wine to transport all of my friends to Africa and prep our palettes for the reds we were about to taste.
The second wine was a red blend also from Beau Constantia. The 2010 Pas de Nom
is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. This made it the lightest of the reds that we would be trying that evening. It was a crowd pleaser and the lightness of the wine made it a great transition to wine number 3. The wine went wonderfully with the chili spiced African jerky I also had out for my friends. It was also a good wine for my friends who tend to prefer whites. However, the winning comment on the wine was that the beard on the label looked just like Brian Wilson's Fear the Beard beard and that I needed to hang onto it…
Wine #3 had us leaving Constantia and heading to Stellanbosch. Although I wanted to go from lightest to boldest in my wine order, I knew that I loved wine #3 more than #4 and so I switched them up as to appreciate the flavor more before we started getting tipsy (I haven't gotten to spitting yet…). The third wine was from the last place I went wine tasting in Africa and it was a winery my friends and I kind of stumbled on. Aside from the shuttle taking us between Cape Town and Stellanbosch, we didn't have a way to get around and the Kleinood winery just happened to be across the street from the one we came from which made it pretty much perfect at that point. This was the end of a long day and we knew that we would probably appreciate any wines we were able to get a taste of.
The Kleinood Tamboerskloof 2008 Syrah
ended up being my favorite wine of the day. I had been finding that many of the South African wines were a little lighter than I usually prefer (something that William is trying to change) and that most of my favorites had been the Syrahs. However, in the month between my trip and my tasting party, I'd already started learning to appreciate more delicate reds and was starting to find many Syrahs to be sweet and syrupy. I was a little nervous to try this wine, afraid that the “last wine you taste is always the best” motto was true AND that my palette had adapted to no long appreciate the same kind of Syrah. I was very happily mistaken. It turned out the last wine I'd tasted actually had been the best. It was not sweet or jammy but instead had a complex blend of peppery flavors that developed with each taste. Even my Pinot loving friend Scott commented on how remarkable this red was. I was so sad I only had the one bottle!
The Kleinood winery also offered us an olive oil
tasting (in fact all of the wineries in Stellanbosch offered some other tasting which was a great bonus). Although it was a little odd to sip on olive oil, it ended up being amazing, even on its own. In Africa, I remember it being a bit spicy. The taste at home didn't seem to have as much of the red pepper flake taste that I remember but I could still feel a bit of the heat on the back of my throat. Not all of my guests agreed however, and I imagine the bottle I bought was a bit milder. In any case, I know it will go great over salad or some spaghetti squash and I'm excited
to use it.
The last wine was from one of the larger and more well known estates I visited on my trip. I saw Waterford's wines at many of the restaurants I visited and it had been recommended to me as the tasting also has a chocolate pairing. This sounded fantastic to me! All in all though, there was only one wine I liked enough to bring home, which was the 2008 Kevin Arnold Shiraz
. This Shiraz was much softer than the Syrah we had tasted shortly before it and while I knew it might have been better to have reversed the order, the stark comparison really made the difference more distinct.
This Wine also had a chocolate
to pair with it. I had brought back a few bars of the Rose Geranium, Chai Masala, and Rock Salt flavored bars. The Rose Geranium had been my favorite chocolate from the trip but no one else really loved it. The Rock Salt was a huge hit but the pieces I broke up didn't all have salt in them. A friend had the great idea to sprinkle a bit more on top and this was absolutely amazing. The Chai Masala was also very delicious but didn't seem to garner any strong opinions either way despite being the chocolate designed to pair with the Shiraz.
Most of my friends had trickled out at this point which was sad because I remembered that I had a bottle of Amarula
in my fridge. Amarula is South African liquor that I described as hazelnut + Bailey's. We dubbed it the Nutella of creme based liquors (it actually does not have nuts though but is made from the South African marula fruit). My friends loved it and said that it definitely rivals Bailey's in flavor. I had to keep them from drinking the whole stash! I'm hoping I can find it at a liquor store around here since it really is just delectable.
Having my wine tasting night and now writing about it really just brings back how fun wine tasting was in South Africa. It's so interesting to see how wine varies around the world and getting to share some of that made the experience even richer. My only regret is that I didn't bring back a Pinotage so I could have shared and remembered a South African varietal. However, I do still have 2 bottles left from one of the older estates I visited – Groot Constantia. I can't wait to open those up and see how they measured up to ones I've already opened.