June 19, 2009

South African Wine : Brief Notes From a Naked Wines Tasting

By Andrew Barrow In Tasting Reports, Wine Notes

a poor picture snapped at the naked wines south african wine tastingA buzzie little tasting at One Alfred Place, London saw Naked Wines open a range of South African wines, some new, some expanding the showing of existing producers.
“You’ll notice that we have two prices next to each of our wines. When you buy form us, you can either choose to pay our standard RRP prices or our VIP prices. Customers paying our VIP prices are members of our Naked Cash Back scheme. IN other words, they set aside £20 a month into their Naked Wines Account, theirs to spend on ANY of our wines, at ANY time. And the best bit… as we know they’re going to be buying form us, they’re guaranteed a 33% saving every time they order”

The wines detailed below – my pick of just six from the 32 opened wines – have two prices the first being the RRP, the second the Cash Back price. This £20 regular saving scheme is in addition to being a Naked Wine Angel. Rather than £20 a simple £5 a month acts as a sponsor to a specific producer, which results in a 33% cash back on future orders of their wines. Don’t do too many of these schemes guys, it’s getting confusing!

Greg Baker tapped me on the shoulder (find him at twitter) a little challenge ensued – the best Shiraz? I would snap up the Manley Shiraz 2005 (RRP £12.99/VIP £7.99) simply for its superb structure, European-focused, restrained but still sweet fruit and long, long length. Greg was having none of it picking the Arabella Shiraz 2008 (RRP £6.99/VIP £4.66) for its pure drinkability, luscious ripe, up-front fruit, concentration and excellent price. If the latter is the main consideration then I have to concede the Arabella is rather decent. But the Manely is still lovely.

Neither bottle was the best of the evening though…

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Avondale Jonty’s Ducks, 2007, Paarl, South Africa

Price: RRP £10.99/VIP £7.33 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A Bordeaux blend (Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet) so distinctive, so technically perfect! Sweetness of fruit, upfront dissipating into a chocolate, almost meaty whole. Lingering.
Scribblings Rating – 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Avondale Green Duck The Duke, 2005, Paarl, South Africa

RRP £12.99/VIP £8.66 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A blend! The staff were under informed, sadly, and didn’t have a clue as to the grapes; with one eye to those who really don’t care about such specifics, preferring drinkability and price/quality considerations I won’t stress on the lack of details. I’m guessing at a Bordeaux style blend*. Good depth, decent tannin-led structure and a long black fruit finish.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Avondale Green Duck The Duchess, 2007, Paarl, South Africa.

Price: RRP £12.49/VIP£8.33 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
The white blend sister to the Green Duck Duke. I’m guessing at a Semillon/Sauvignon type blend (Chenin Blanc? Gewurztraminer?). My notes suffered from some dripped wine but I think this is the one that had a distinct edge of sweet spice (from Viognier or Gewurztraminer). More proof that decent blends offer superb complexity and interesting flavours.
Scribblings Rating – 94/100 [4.25 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Strandveld Adamanstor, 2008, Elim, South Africa

Price: RRP £13.49/VIP £8.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A near perfect rendition of a Sauvignon-Semillon blend. The Sauvingon is plucked from a single vineyard known locally as “Pofadder Bos Sauvignon Blanc” due to frequent encounters with the snakes in the surrounding fynbos. The Semillon component in the 50-50 blend receives a little oak treatment and some lees activity. These wine making activities result in a complex wine bursting with peashoots, broad beans and lettuce aromas and flavours. Dry. Alcohol 13%.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

All these wines are ‘on the water'; expected listing on the Naked Wines website is July.

* a look at the Avondale website shows this as 43% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Malbec and 14% Shiraz “Owner Johnathan Grieve uses a “posse” of Peking ducks to patrol the vineyards and to eat snails. This is a natural and environmentally friendly way of killing pests. These ducks epitomizes our natural “green” way of farming and making wine at Avondale – a methodology we have named Bio-LOGIC.” The Duchess is listed as “a mystery blend of noble white grape varieties”

  1. Buzzworthy June 20, 2009

    Thanks for this terrific review of SA’s phenom wines…. I grew up in the heart of the Stellenbosch wine district and swear the juice runs thru my veins. With all these wonderful new contenders on tap, I’m still partial to the old classics. Nothing beats the velvety smoothness of a MEERLUST Rubicon Bordeaux!

  2. Andrew June 20, 2009

    aaah yes.. Meerlust… yum…


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