Getting the balance right!

Cathy Marston talks to JC Martin about the Overhex Balance range.

03 Mar 2011

I’ve written elsewhere about my fab dining week when I went to Rust en Vrede one day followed immediately by Test Kitchen. In my opinion, there was little to choose between the two venues in terms of quality and total and utter fabulosity, the only difference being the style in which they presented themselves. However, the wines shown on each occasion represented some of the greatest extremes I’ve ever come across in such a short space of time, so my next question has to be – which would you rather pay for a bottle of wine - R1,200 or R23?
Overhex Wines International is an interesting organisation, comprising as it does several individuals who market themselves separately, but who have also combined to create a new entity which creates made-to-order wines for local and international markets. In charge of winemaking is JC Martin from Creation Wines and he is refreshingly candid and honest about Overhex and what they hope for from their Balance range, now becoming more widely available in SA. For him, part of the attraction of Overhex is their ability to source wines from anywhere in the Western Cape giving them a freedom of style and price which a single farm would struggle to match.
There were three ranges on offer at the lunch last week – their entry level range, the reserve range and the Winemakers Selection wines. According to JC, the Balance entry level wines cost around R27- R29 (although I found the Sauvignon/Semillon in Ultra Liquors for R23), the Reserve wines are R35 and the winemakers Selection wines are R40 for the Sauvignon and R45 for the Shiraz – all of them considerably less than many people’s entry level price range.
But price is meaningless if the wine isn’t nice – that’s the very definition of good value. Of the 7 wines we tasted, I thought 3 of them were fairly-priced, but the other 4 completely over-delivered – if they had charged even up to 20% more, I would still have thought them good value. None of them were world-beaters – not the kind of wines to keep you awake at night dreaming of them – but they were all correct, clean, well-made, tasted more than pleasant, had good varietal character and I enjoyed drinking them. To be honest – what more do you need? Especially at R23 a bottle.
Just to give the opposite side, the day before I had been drinking Rust en Vrede’s 1694 Classification, priced at R1,200. Is it worth it? If I had that kind of money, then yes, I would probably say it is. Since I don’t, however, it’s down to Ultra for me to put a bit of Balance in my life and shopping bag!
These were my four favourite wines:
Balance Sauvignon/Semillon 2010    R23
Fresh, fruity and zippy with plenty of crunchy appley flavours and a crisp finish. Great stoep wine, I’d advise you to buy it by the case not the bottle.
Balance Chardonnay Reserve 2010          R35
Well-made wine with aromas of orange blossoms and melons. Creamy, well-judged oak balanced by fruit and acidity. Tad short but very drinkable.
Balance Winemakers Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010    R40
Made from Darling fruit with a green, tight, asparagus nose. Zingy acidity, oodles of fresh green and yellow fruit, again a tad short, but bloody excellent for the price!
Balance Pinotage/Shiraz 2009    R29
Immediate and overt aromas of sweet black fruit. Hugely acceptable flavours – soft black berries, juicy tannins, light, fragrant and refreshing. Could be chilled if you wanted.

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