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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, August 28 2008. 10:44

Blog: Quickie of Wine Tasting

For the last 2-3 days I have been in Paarl, 50 kms from Cape Town where I have been invited for a tasting of South African wines for South African Airways (SAA). There have been a total of over 900 wines tasted over 2.5 days by a panel of 12 judges split in two groups. There are several eminent judges including Dave Hughes, an honourary Cape Wine Master, who has been doing a research on taste and/of  wines for over 15 years, Susanne Wessels, the ' woman winemaker of the year' for last year and many sommeliers, journalists and other tasters.

Years ago when I was a judge at the Vinitaly wine concorso, we tasted about 60 wines every day for 5 days. Most non- tasters did not believe me and thought that would be too much in a day, especially if one considers that around 10 different wines would be consumed with lunch and dinner, additionally. Well, for this extra-ordinary tasting, we tasted 178 wines on each of the fist two days, giving us 2-3 minutes to judge each wine. Today, the last day,  was relatively light as we tasted only 55 wines. The rest of the time was spent in tasting some of the 900 wines of the show presented in the open courtyard  where one could see the wine labels while tasting and meet the winemakers and journalists invited for the tasting.

 The earlier tasting was completely blind and was conducted methodically and efficiently by Bennie Howard,  a well know personality in the Cape winelands , who is also a Cape Wine Master, an equivalent of Master of Wine, at least according to the locals. It is not easy to be one; there are only 67 of them including Bennie.

It is exceptional that even after tasting so many wines, the palate is not dead, though it is slightly fatigued. During the two days, we also had the energy to visit Vrede en Lust and Rupert Rothschild, two well known wineries located bang in the middle of Paarl and Stellenbosch, the two well-known areas making good quality wines.

More on the SAA tastings later but the Rose sparkling from Vrede and the Baron Edmond 1999 from R & R really impressed. The value for money 2006 Classique from R &R was a bit too tannic yet and as Schalk Joubert, the Cellar Master said, the wine was ready to drink and will not change the tannin content, it was slightly disappointing for me because, 4 years ago, I had declared the 2001 as the best value for money, good quality wine available in Delhi. I have often enjoyed a glass or two on my trips to the US where I don't want the host to spend too much on a bottle of wine. I doubt, if I would do teh same for 2006 vintage unless I was ordering a steak or sikandri raan.

However, if the 2004 had opened enough to be a good food wine, the 1999 vintage Baron Edmond was absolutely delicious with great complexity.Despite the rounded tannins, and twice the cost of the classique, this wine offers a greater value for money, if you are looking for  a good value Bordeaux chateaux  type of a classified growth. Schalk who was recently in Delhi told me that he had seen the Baron being sold by the glass in a 5-star hotel restaurant. Although I find it hard to believe, if there is one place it might be available at, it would have to be at Shangri-la. If you find out, do let me know along with the per glass cost; it would be well-worth a glass.

Paarl, August 27, 2008



Posted By : Schalk Joubert

September 15, 2008 16:17

Hello, The hotel in question is The Oberoi. The 2003 Baron Edmond served by the glass. I am glad you enjoyed our wine. Hope to see you next time when I am in India. Kind Regards, Schalk


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