Recently returned from the London International Wine Fair, Kobus Basson, owner of Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch reports plenty of interest in “premium product”. How to explain this in light of the tough trading conditions that currently apply globally? “Kleine Zalze is a product of patience. We’ve worked hard to establish a base and retailers have gained the confidence to offer our more expensive wines”. This message is in stark contrast to the overall picture with packaged natural wine exports down 15.5% in the year ending March 2011. “Big-volume discounters swing the percentages and distort the facts,” reckons Basson. “South Africa is starting to make in-roads into the middle market.”
And Kleine Zalze’s premium wines are pretty smart stuff as was demonstrated yesterday when Basson and winemaker Johan Joubert put on a tasting yesterday. First, the Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010, winner of a regional trophy at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. Rich and ripe with a broad flavour spectrum, it’s a wine for those that don’t like herbaceous, angular Sauvignon. Price per bottle: R120.
Also, the Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, winner of the trophy for best in class at the 2009 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show as well as being rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011. It’s a pretty complete wine with lots of fruit concentration, a comforting sweetness and smooth but not quite slippery tannins.
Wine of the day for me was the Family Reserve Shiraz 2007, which also won the trophy for best in class at the 2009 Trophy Wine Show. This wine showed red and black fruit, spice and just a hint of development. I thought it had great focus and balance and did not appear overly sweet despite a residual sugar of 3.6g/l (compared to 3.2g/l in the case of the Cabernet Sauvignon). Both reds will sell for R220 a bottle and are only being released now as Basson discerns a demand for “older” wines.