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Last night, Wine Cellar in Cape Town hosted a tasting of wines made in the USA involving two top local producers, Chris Alheit associated with Wilson Foreigner and Chris and Andrea Mullineux with Fog Monster , the audience left pondering the primary determinant of each wine’s character – variety, place of origin or winemaking attention…

Tasting notes and ratings as follows:

Wilson Foreigner is a partnership between Californian David Wilson and Alheit, the two having met while working for Flagstone in 2005.

Wilson Foreigner Albariño Rorick Vineyard Sierra Foothills 2016Wilson Foreigner Albariño  Rorick Vineyard Sierra Foothills 2015
Price: R475
An ephemeral nose of white fruit and herbs. The palate is light but very flavourful. Pure and fresh with a persistent finish, this is extremely elegant yet wonderfully vinous.

Editor’s rating: 94/100.

Wilson Foreigner Valdiguié Rancho Chimiles Napa Valley 2016
Price: R535
Valdiguié, also termed “Napa Gamay”, was widely planted in the Napa Valley up to the late 1980s. Grapes for this wine from a 1972 block planted on Wilson’s family farm. 30% whole-bunch fermentation. Red and black cherry plus a not unpleasant green edge. Sweet ‘n sour on the palate, the tannins suitably fine. A somewhat expensive curiosity.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

For Fog Monster, the Mullineuxs sourced grapes from vineyards, exposed to interesting climatic conditions, particularly the fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean.

Fog Monster Chenin Blanc 2012
Price: R775
Winemaking involved two weeks of carbonic maceration. Almost luminous orange in colour, the nose shows orange, herbs and spice plus an ever so slight nuttiness. The palate is medium bodied with moderate acidity. Tasty enough but seems to be tiring a little.

Editor’s rating: 91/100.

Fog Monster Bedrock Red 2014Fog Monster Bedrock Red 2014
Price: R995
Grapes from a 128-year-old field blend vineyard: 55% Zinfandel, 20% Carignan plus approximately 25 other varieties. A forthcoming and very appealing nose of red and black berries, floral fragrance and spice. The palate is light bodied and fresh with fine tannins – complex and beautifully poised.

Editor’s rating: 93/100.

Fog Monster Moss Zinfandel 2014
Price: R775
From a 125-year-old vineyard. Made with the intention of creating a new-wave expression of the variety but still makes a big impact. The nose shows black and blue fruit, incense and a touch of reduction.  The palate is full bodied with dense fruit, fresh acidity and firm tannins. Slightly hot on the finish – alcohol is 14.2%.

Editor’s rating: 90/100.

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