Last night Pomerol versus Paarl and terroir, the notion that wine should taste of the place where the grapes grow, was less arcane than usual. Bellegrave is a fairly modest Pomerol producer (the 2009 would cost you about R300 on the open market) and is planted to mainly Merlot plus some Cabernet Franc. Boutique Paarl cellar Veenwouden, meanwhile, came out of nowhere in the 1990s with wines which wowed everybody while Glen Carlou, of course, is the high profile property established by the renowned Walter Finlayson in the 1980s and now part of the Hess Collection.
The Bellegrave 1999 was rather slight but charming, even so. Some violets and earthiness on the nose, while the palate showed the last vestiges of red fruit plus plenty of the savoury character that comes from development as well as bright acidity and fine tannins.
Glen Carlou Grand Classique 1999 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot) was typically South African in that it possessed a real tomato paste quality about it. Full bodied, well balanced, dry.
Nothing “classic” about the Veenwouden Classic 1999 (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) at all but not to say unimpressive. Dark fruit, slight minty note plus plenty of toasty oak. Full bodied with an apparent sweetness. Plenty of oomph. This was considered hot stuff back in the day but the style it represents has subsequently been transcended.
All three good rather than great but more importantly, reflective of their respective origins. Moreover, a real pleasure to drink wine not in the first flush of youth.