Our wine editor’s top 10 wines of 2014
Normally I do a round-up of my Top 5 wines, but this year has been so awesome and wine-packed, I feel the need to extend my list and add in a few extras. So here goes with my Christmas drinking wish list – feel free to gift me any and all!
Stofberg Mia Chenin Blanc 2014 (R49)
Poor Mariette Coetzee must think she was never going to hear from me again since it’s so long since she sent me this wine! It’s not a terribly well-known label, nor is it perhaps the most highly-regarded or decorated but in terms of sheer drinkability, I can’t think of many wines I’ve enjoyed more this year – fresh, lemony, creamy, lovely. Seriously – for great summer quaffing, go seek this out.
Spice Route The Amos Block Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (R75)
This was the wine that really kickstarted the Swartland Revolution when Charles Back and then Spice Route winemaker Eben Sadie discovered these old, dryland-farmed vines in 1997. I really went bigtime for this wine – wonderful balance, fabulous depth of flavour and an excellent price. My sauvvie of the year, no mistake.
Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve White Blend 2013 (R92)
This is 3rd vintage in a row for Platter 5 Stars and actually, I don’t think there is a better-value 5* wine on the market – the 2011 is also available from the cellar door at the same price. A blend of Sauvignon/Semillon from cool-climate Elim, this wine is all about the layers, racing through your mouth, bringing pleasure unparalleled. I didn’t spit this when tasting it.
Richard Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2013 (R305)
I’m really enjoying Elgin Chardonnays right now – very nearly picked a Paul Cluver Chardonnay here too. Richard is making amazing wines with delicious minerality (and my students know I don’t use that term often) and classic Burgundy muesli notes. Again, it’s all about the layers with yellow fruit, zestiness and cream taking turns to explode in your mouth. Yum.
Hartenberg Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2011 (R59)
I’ve been teaching a lot of Makro staff this year and 1 of the wines we tasted on the course was this one. The thing that gets me about this wine is the price – I think this may be the best-value glugging red in the country and for sheer bang-for-your-buck, it’s totally unbeatable. Lots and lots of ripe, chewy black fruit, excellent balance, totally more-ish.
Mvemve Raats De Compostella 2012 (R900-ish)
It’s possibly a bit of a waste of time listing this wine in my Top 10 because I don’t think you can get hold of it (try specialist retailers such as Wine Concepts, Carolines or Norman Goodfellows) but Bruwer Raats says that he can maybe make a plan if people bother to trek out to the farm. Bother – that’s my advice, seriously, make the effort and get your hands on what I think is the best Bordeaux blend in the country. Finished en klaar.
Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2011 (R2,000)
Look, I’m not saying that I drink this everyday – but boy, I wish I could. This is mainly Cabernet with slight tweaks of Petit Verdot and Malbec and it was the star of a recent launch event at the farm. I’ve never wished more fervently that I wasn’t driving and could luxuriate in endless glasses of this wine – so much complexity, so much power and grace, so much potential. Would I sell my soul for this wine? Hell yeah.
Doran Vineyards Rosie D 2014 (R59)
Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether you had a great time because of the wine or whether the wine was so lovely, it made the time great. I don’t really care which it was when I enjoyed far too much of this on a delicious sunny day at the Doran farm watching the sheepstakes last month. If you want the quintessential summer pink, then this has summeriness in spades and really is sunshine in a glass.
Jacques Bruére Blanc de Blanc 2009 (R140)
This comes from one of the finest fizz-makers in the country, yet they are often overlooked in favour of flashier brands. Bon Courage in Robertson has a trio of fizzes available but it is this one, 100% Chardonnay, which has caught my eye this year. Wonderful yeastiness, creamy, zesty lemon rind and a lingering finish. Celebrate everything, anything and nothing with a glass of this.
Boplaas Tawny Vintners Reserve NV (R150 for 375ml)
Apparently, it’s not really financially-viable for people to make this style of wine – it has to be kept so long before release and then it sells for such meagre amounts, winemakers often wonder if they should bother. YES!! Is the answer to that. Of course they should bother, because wonderful, balanced, concentration and complexity will always be in demand by me and any other lover of seriously good wines.
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