Can elegance be achieved in a hot climate? The 2011 Swartland Revolution began with a tasting of various vintages and manifestations of Clape Cornas, and moderator Eben Sadie said the appeal for him of these wines were that they were “austere, sinister and very dark” which I thought was remarkably honest when everyone else spent the weekend going on about “lightness” and “freshness”.
Sure, the wines of the Swartland’s avante garde have over the last decade moved away from being super-intense, sometimes even a little “baked” or “cooked” towards displaying clearer fruit delineation and more verve but I’m not sure that they are anywhere near the point where they could be described as “elegant”.
That said, why should a hot climate wine be expected to be “elegant”? Choose a wine from the Swartland or any other “hot climate”, and you can and should get richness and generosity of flavour while the degree to which the basic structural components of the wine are in balance will go a long way to determining its relative quality but asking such a wine to be light, fresh and elegant seems to be privileging the wrong aesthetic criteria.
On the whole, a cracking experience. At the price of R1 750 a head, the preserve of wine geeks but man, these wine geeks know how to party, some 200 guests managing to consume 600 bottles of wine at the Reuben Riffel BBQ Extravaganza on Friday night.