High alcohols on South African wines has been much debated in recent times but what of the matter of residual sugars which also seem to be creeping ever upwards?
Sweetness can be seductive, the Obikwa Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 a recent case in point, its RS of over 5g/l (and hence technically semi-sweet) no impediment to it achieving a rating of 4 Stars in a recent category review that I chaired on behalf of Wine magazine. Some will scoff that my colleagues and I were so easily beguiled by the wine but this is an entry-level offering (approximate retail price of under R30) and I think it’s to producer Distell’s credit that it can put such a broadly appealing product on the market for that kind of money.
Where table wine with high residual sugar becomes problematic for me is when it has pretensions to seriousness. Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is generally much celebrated including a rating of 5 Stars in Platter’s 2011 but I find the wine overdone, in particular its RS of 3.2g/l discordant.
Over supper last night, I opened Viljoensdrft River Grandeur Cape Blend 2009, a wine consisting of 66% Shiraz and 34% Pinotage My impression was of a smooth textured wine with flavours of ultra-ripe red and black fruit and a touch of coffee. Fundamentally, however, it appeared sweet and I soon confirmed it has a residual sugar of 3.5 g/l. It rated 4½ Stars in Wine although this time I’m absolved of blame as I did not sit on the panel concerned. On the whole, I thought it passable and priced at R39.50 from the cellar, nobody can accuse those involved in making it of delusions of grandeur. Even so, it did not pair well with food and I was soon reaching for something drier.