After three days of judging the Best Value Wine Guide 2012 (featuring wines below R60 a bottle) sponsored by Ultra Liquors and to be disseminated with Ramsay media travel title Getaway now that it’s former stablemate Wine is no longer, two big-ticket items with lunch yesterday to celebrate the end of judging and remind ourselves that value can be found at any price point, providing what’s in the bottle is impressive enough.
Columella 2007 vs. Rustenburg Peter Barlow 2006 could not have provided a bigger contrast in just about any sense. In the first instance, a Syrah-Mourvèdre from multiple Swartland vineyards, juicy red & black fruit, broad structure and relatively soft tannins; 24 months in oak, 35% new. In the second, Cabernet Sauvignon from a single Stellenbosch vineyard, intense cassis, great purity and focus, bright acidity and firm tannins; 20 months in French oak, 100% new.
Columella made by the flamboyant Eben Sadie; Peter Barlow made by the almost faceless Randolph Christians after his predecessor and significantly more maverick Adi Badenhorst ran off to join Sadie in the Swartland.
Both excellent, Columella perhaps slightly more approachable now, Peter Barlow still quite austere and ungiving. Not the kind of stuff you get to wrap your lips around everyday (Columella is about 10 times more expensive than anything in the value guide, Peter Barlow five times more) but quite fun to spend the afternoon pontificating about their respective merits.