I am always searching for good wine to present to my patrons at 13. I taste upwards of 100 wines every week. It’s a weird task… sometimes, frankly, it’s a bit taxing… but, reallly, I can’t complain. It’s a pretty great job. Recently, I held a private (that meaining, alone, by myself) tasting of South African wines new to the Texas market. And, I have to admit, they were great. I’ll not mention the brand names or any of that stuff for now; however, I would like to point out that, as I have always suspected, wines from this weird place in the world don’t usually get to us here in the States. This is likely the reason as to why I have never (literally) featured a South African wine at 13. This has changed! The new lineup of South African wines at 13 were selected because they were particularly delicious. I tweeted the tasting late one night last week… South African wines are decidedly “New World” in style… but the good ones deliver a unique “punch” of good, bold fruit balanced with acidity (the whites) and something like a smoky char (the reds). I think the wines of Stellenbosch stand out because they are well made and the vinification culture of these wines are varietaly appropriate. I want you, and all your friends, to explore these wines… I think you just have to sort of “sharp smart” about them and you will be justly rewarded. Focus on Chenin and Cab here, but do not hesitate with Riesling-based blends.
Chenin is referred to here as “Steen” and it is its own animal in this part of the world. The wines are based on an interesting grapefruit citrus core with a very present creaminess to round things out. Reds are robust, in fact, they are juicy and huge. Even the Pinotage (a grape I’ve never quite trusted) can be decadent and has a tendency to offering up something almost feral in the glass… indeed, the image of a tiger pacing back and forth in its cage, ready to strike out at any moment, is an apt metaphor.