For many years, second label wines have been the steal of the century when it came to buying great wines on a budget. By second labels, I mean the lesser-ranges of wines produced by top estates, generally made from younger vineyards (so not yet good enough for the top wines) or from batches which didn’t quite fit into the top tier stuff. You got the same amazing winemakers, all the best winery equipment and care and at a fraction of the cost – what’s not to like?
Nothing at all, but I suggest we now have another way of getting great value for fabulous wines and in order to do that, we have to unlock our inner ‘inverse snob’! One of the effects of recession is that everyone looks for a bargain – Constantia moms happily shopping at Monsieur Prix and A.C. Kerman’s, Fruit & Veg City becoming de rigeur for a Saturday morning stock-up etc etc. And such excellent value can be found at these cheaper places, that people are showing off their bargains and boasting about them at dinner parties. No longer is it a matter of pride how much you spend on things, more a question of how much you’ve saved.
With this in mind, a whole new raft of wines are coming onto the radar – reserve ranges from bigger producers. With access to a massive amount of grapes of hugely varying qualities, some of these bigger producers have started isolating the better stuff and labelling it as ‘Reserve’ or ‘Special Selection’ whilst still keeping the prices ridiculously low. It started with mighty Van Loveren launching their Christina van Loveren range – I still maintain that that 2009 Chardonnay at R55 is the absolute best one for the price in South Africa. Nederburg offer their Winemakers Selection range with prices in the R40’s and R50’s, new player Overhex has an excellent pair of wines in their Winemakers Selection range at R45 a bottle and now Perdeberg, the home of great-value Chenin, has joined in with their new releases and other top wines.
Launched last week were two new wines in their premium range – the MCC (R85) and the Natural Sweet Weisser Riesling (R80), both of which offer excellent value - along with the Rex Equus (R180) the winner of Wine Magazine’s Chenin Challenge this year. At the same time, they showcased some others of their Reserve range with the whites coming in at around the R40 mark and the reds an excellent value, budget-beating R59 and completely over-delivering at that price as well. We tried the Shiraz which was juicy and peppery and there are a further 5 wines in this range, all of them rating an impressive 4 stars in the Platter Guide. At these prices, and with all the interesting varieties and wines about at the moment, becoming an inverse snob has never been so much fun!