To start the evening two examples of Chenin Blanc, De Trafford 2008 side by side with Post House 2008. I’d hoped that the wines would be rich and substantial and capable of providing some succour against the chill of winter which seems to have arrived all too early in the Cape but instead we found them hard work and rather joyless, both showing that bruised apple-honey-spice flavour profile that seems to be very much in fashion at the moment, the De Trafford perhaps having a tiny bit more verve than the Post House.
It’s been my view for some time that litre for litre South Africa makes better white wine than red, so when it came to opening a bottle of red to go with a main course, I feared that we might experience a dinner where vinous satisfaction would elude us entirely, but the Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal 2008 proved to be a revelation.
50% Sangiovese, 22% Pinot Noir, 13% Nebbiolo, 7% Mourvèdre, 65% Barbera and 2% Shiraz, it managed to be both readily approachable and intellectually rewarding showing red fruit, some fynbos and hard-to-describe but appealing savouriness; in addition wonderful freshness and an admirably light touch when it came to treatment in oak.
The observation might be made that this wine has Tuscany, Burgundy, Piedmont and the Southern Rhône in the glass at the same time, and while it might broadly be termed “European” in terms of not be excessively fruit driven, I think it ends up being distinctively South African on account of the wide and exotic range of aromas and tastes it displays which other wine regions are going to struggle to match. Another fine example of the unconventional but carefully conceived red blends that are re-defining what we’re capable of at the top end of the market.