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The Great Pork Belly Party – the reds


On Saturday one of those semi-regular gatherings of friends were the meal is pre-determined and those attending must bring suitable wine. To eat, slow roasted pork belly; to drink, an extraordinarily wide array of wines.

As an aperitif, Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru. Rich and full with citrus, honey and significant autolytic character, it might well have stood up to the pork.

Then two flights of wine, four reds and six whites both tasted blind before lunch was served. My tasting notes and scores:

1. De Waal Top of the Hill Pinotage 2001: Red and black fruit, subtle meaty note. Rich and broad with good fruit concentration balanced by fresh acidity. Long, dry finish. 18/20

2.=  Columella 2000: Complex nose showing dark berries, pepper, wood polish and subtle tarry note. Remarkably primary on the palate with well delineated fruit and fresh acidity. Saline finish. 17/20

2.= Spice Route Flagship Syrah 2000: Evolved but focused and composed. Dried meat, herbs, pepper and spice on the nose. Rich but balanced on the palate – savoury with fresh acidity and great tannic grip. 17/20

4. De Wetshof Nature in Concert Pinot Noir 2007 Shy nose before a rich, slightly sweet palate showing intense strawberry flavour. 15.5/20

The De Waal Top of the Hill Pinotage 2001, which won Daniel de Waal the title of Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in 2002, was hugely impressive blind but became somewhat tiring to drink with lunch, a fruit compote type character not working with the rich and fatty pork. More suited to a stew of some kind, I suspect.

The Columella 2000 was the visionary Eben Sadie’s first effort under his own label: the wine mainly from Syrah but including 10% of Mourvèdre and spending 22 months in French oak, approximately 65% new.

The Spice Route  Flagship Syrah 2000 was Sadie’ second last vintage at Spice Route. 100% Syrah, 16 months in French oak, apparently all new. The Columella more intact than the Spice Route and hence capable of rewarding further maturation, but both quite delicious in their different ways right now.


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