Call me cynical but a wine from Paarl lifestyle estate Val de Vie with former Olympic gold medalist Ryk Neethling as frontman and its Champagne-sponsored polo events doesn’t immediately inspire confidence.
However, when after a bottle of the 2009 vintage Rhône-style red blend called Seventeen Eighty Three (supposedly after the year the property was first granted) was pressed upon my by the Val de Vie PR company, it turned out to be surprisingly smart.
A blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 30% Shiraz, 12% Carignan, 12% Cinsaut and 6% Grenache, it underwent spontaneous fermentation in large-format barrels before maturation for some 18 months.
On the nose, red and black fruit, pepper and spice and a subtle meatiness. The palate is medium bodied with good freshness and nicely resolved tannins – it drinks very well but is probably at its peak. Not a million miles off Châteauneuf-du-Pape and selling for the relatively modest price of R150 – I’m now left wondering if this is what the mink-and-manure set really want to drink?