In celebration of the FIFA World Cup, which takes place this month in South Africa, Blackbeard’s is pleased to offer a fantastic 15 per cent discount on all of its South African wines. With an opportunity like this not to be missed, Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull gets the low down on some of the fantastic wines that you can now sample at an equally fantastic price.
Approaching this article I have to admit I was going in pretty cold, my knowledge of South African wines limited to the enjoyment of a couple of good wines from Stellenbosch and that was about it. Thankfully Blackbeard’s Jeremy Corday, their new wine specialist/sommelier and supervisor of Blackbeard’s Direct delivery service was on hand to demystify this most exciting of wine regions with his superlative knowledge and clear passion for the region.
Jeremy has over 12 years experience in the food and beverage industry, having recently managed JIKO at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, Florida- a AAA rated 4 Diamond restaurant and consistent winner of Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence”.
“We had the largest collection of South African wines in the US at Jiko,” Jeremy confirms. “They are some of the most amazing new world wines and include some of the best values in the wine industry today.”
Two years ago Jeremy along with colleagues from the restaurant undertook a tour of South Africa’s wine regions and his deep appreciation for that country’s wine was cemented during the trip.
“It’s an amazingly beautiful, lush, green country,” he confirms. “With some of the most amazing, friendly, welcoming people you could meet in the wine industry. Winemakers aren’t shy about consulting each other, sharing ideas and working together for the overall improvement of South Africa’s wine industry. They are not pretentious as you may find when visiting other wine making regions. It’s so refreshing.”
Jeremy says that South Africa’s climate and soils are so diverse that the country has excellent terroir for almost every grape you can think of. Highlighting the range of South African wines on offer at Blackbeard’s Jeremy gave tasting notes on each of his favourites.
Follow the Spice Route
Starting with the Spice Route range, Jeremy gives some background to the winery: “Charles Back who some consider the Robert Mondavi of South Africa, owns multiple wineries and bottles wine under numerous labels. Spice Route, in the Swartland region which he started in 1997 gets its name from the course that European ships had to travel around the Cape of Good Hope in the 1600’s on their way to trade spices in Asia.”
Jeremy introduced their excellent range of everyday drinking wines, which include a Sauvignon Blanc (CI$17.59/discounted to CI$14.95) and a Chenin Blanc
(CI$19.49/discounted to CI$16.57).
“The Sauvignon Blanc is a complex wine with many typical varietal characteristics such as gooseberries and cut grass, but with an added old world minerality which gives the wine a Sancerre-ish quality” Jeremy explains.
“The Chenin Blanc is a fuller bodied style of wine with oak influence. It looks like a Chardonnay, is extremely aromatic and pairs wonderfully well with lobster and rich pasta dishes,” he adds.
Moving to Spice Route’s high end wines, Jeremy says that their Chakalaka wine is named after a spicy African relish or salsa. Priced at CI$26.59/ discounted to CI$22.60, this wine is a Rhone-style blend of Shiraz, Grenache. Mourvedre, Petit Syrah, Souzao (a Portuguese grape), and Carignan.
“This is a well balanced wine full of ripe red fruit, spice and pepper. It pairs really well with lamb and other red meat. You need a decent amount of protein to stand up to the tannin of the wine but it drinks great on its own” says Jeremy who barrel tasted the first vintage of this wine in South Africa before it was released to the public.
Spice Route’s Malabar takes it up a notch, with its flagship wine that is again a Shiraz-based blend that includes Mourvedre and Grenache. This is an extremely complex and rounded wine, according to Jeremy.
“It’s beautiful, voluptuous, ridiculously well balanced and delicious with sexy, well integrated tannins” he confirms.
Grapes are hand picked and sorted and each varietal is aged separately, with only the best going into the blend which is further aged in oak and then in the bottle.
“At CI$56.99 Spice Route’s Malabar is not everyone’s everyday drinking wine but the discount brings it down to a more palatable CI$48.88 which I hope will give everyone the chance to experience this exceptional wine. There were only 16 barrels made of the 2004 vintage that we are selling which received 91 points from Wine Spectator.”
Well priced and varied
Next on our tour was a look at the Indaba wines. Indaba is the Zulu word for “a meeting of the minds” or a traditional gathering of tribal leaders for sharing ideas. The brand was created as a celebration of the democratisation process in South Africa after apartheid ended.
The Indaba grapes are carefully selected from emerging regions of the Cape winelands such as Robertson, Wellington, and the Breede River Valley. Production is overseen by Bruwer Raats, celebrated winemaker of Raats Family Wines and long-term consultant for Indaba.
“The Indaba range offers tremendous value,” Jeremy says. Starting with their Chenin Blanc, which retails at just CI$15.99/discounted to CI$13.59. “Chenin is a really diverse, exciting, aromatic grape made in many different styles. Try Indaba Chenin Blanc instead of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc next time and you will see this become Cayman’s new favourite wine. From a pairing perspective it is dynamite with sushi, seafood and Asian dishes but diverse enough to work with a variety of cuisine.”
Jeremy also highlights Indaba’s Indaba Sauvignon Blanc CI$15.99/discounted to CI$13.59 “delicious grapefruit, gooseberry notes, zesty and crisp. Try this instead of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc next time”, the Indaba Merlot CI$15.99/ discounted to CI$13.59 “well balanced with delicious, red, jammy fruits. A great BBQ wine” and the Indaba Chardonnay which has recently received a lot of attention from the likes of Robert Parker, which Jeremy describes as “beautifully well balanced with a kiss of oak, this is the definitive, every day drinking chardonnay.”
Other lovely South African wines to choose from include those from the Rustenberg winery, one which Jeremy visited in his tour. Their Brampton range of Sauvignon Blanc and unoaked Chardonnay are both stocked at Blackbeard’s, both retailing at CI$16.99/discounted to CI$14.44 and as Jeremy says are “more great examples of South African wines with tremendous quality for price paid.”
The brand’s flagship wine is the Rustenberg ‘Peter Barlow’ Cabernet Sauvignon. “This wine is a bit pricier at CI$52.99/discounted to CI$45.04, but worth every cent as it is a truly phenomenal wine and a shining example of South Africa’s New World fruit with Old World charm approach.” says Jeremy, who explains that it beat a Silver Oak (which retails for almost double the price) in a blind tasting. The Peter Barlow received 92 points from Robert Parker.
“We are careful to stock a good range to suit everyone’s wallet,” Jeremy says. “For example, the Indaba and Brampton both are frequently featured in Wine Spectators ‘Best Value’ and ‘Best Buy’ categories. That said, we also offer some quality higher end South African wines that are really exceptional value and within range for a special treat.”