The 2011 Ultra Liquors Best Value Wine Guide was launched last week at a lunch at Joostenberg Bistro with a total of 47 wines achieving Value Awards. For wines to be entered into the Best Value Wine Awards, they had to be priced at under R60 a bottle, producers were required to have a reasonable amount of stock available to the public and the wines had be submitted in a completed state of production.
The wines were tasted blind (labels out of sight) and awarded a score out of 20, which was then translated into a Star rating out of five. From this score, a Value rating was awarded based on a quality-to-price ratio. For example, if two wines were both awarded three stars, but one sells at R30 and the other at R55, the wine priced at R30 was awarded a higher Value rating.
According to the judges, wines at this level can offer incredible value, but there are also plenty of cynical, badly-made wines which aren’t worth even the very little money they cost. As one judge said ‘It’s like the little girl in the nursery rhyme – when they are good, they are very, very good, but when they are bad, they are horrid!’ The Guide is available free in the November edition of Wine magazine, available from 25th October.
These are my best of the best:
Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill Red 2008 R45
One of only two wines awarded 4 stars, this is a mad blend of several different grape varieties all happily co-existing to make a soft, rounded, juicy wine with enough backbone to go with food.
Secret Cellar Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot NV R29.99
This is Ultra Liquors own label and is an intriguing combination of 2 of the most interesting red grapes around. Chewy and rustic with plenty of green-tinged black fruit, this is a great wine for a braai.
Koelenbosch Sangiovese 2009 R28.50
Italian grape variety finding increased popularity in SA. This is a ripe and succulent mouthful of black cherry fruit with soft tannins and a well-managed acidity. Good with pasta.
Obikwa Shiraz 2009 R24.95
Surprise, surprise – having done so well at the Shiraz Challenge, this is once again the top performing Shiraz. I’d be surprised if you can still get the 2009 but the 2010 is equally accessible with black berried fruit, a whiff of perfume and a lick of cream.
Allee Bleue Rose 2010 R26.00
Winemaker Van Zyl du Toit declares he will never make a sweet wine but there are so many berries and red fruit flavours in here, you almost think it might be! Lively acidity and a fresh finish – great summer drink.
Balance Sauvignon/Semillon 2010 R22.00
From Overhex Cellars in Worcester comes a classic Bordeaux combination balancing lemons and limes with a zippy acidity and a surprising richness and satisfying finish. Amazing value at the price.
Lutzville Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc 2010 R24.20
An area often plundered by bigger name producers for far more expensive wines – this was a winner last year and was the best sauvignon I tasted at the lunch. Balanced acidity with a real weight to it and a satisfying mouthfeel.
Riebeek Viognier 2009 R29.00
Amazingly good value Viognier with all the hallmark characteristics of soft, yellow fruit but none of the fat, flabby oiliness you sometimes find. Crisp finish, rounded texture, nice acids.
BC Chenin Blanc 2010 R17.50
This was a lovely wine although it didn’t show very much ‘Chenin-ness’ at all! Very lively grapefruits and gooseberries with zingy acidity and a good length. Great summer quaffer.