Guests attending the Radford Dale tasting at I ♥ my Laundry last night were astounded at the difference in the taste of a wine when it is evaluated in a standard restaurant glass, compared to a varietal specific glass made by Riedel.
Led by passionate wine-lover Tarryn Thomas, new Cape representative of Reciprocal Wines, owned by wine guru Michael Fridjhon and importers of wines and agents for Riedel glassware, she did tastings of the Radford Dale wines, first in what she called a ‘Joker’ glass one would typically find in a restaurant, one design for all white wines, and another for all red wines. Then we tasted the same wine in a Riedel varietal-specific wine glass, and the difference was unbelievable. Even if the same wine is tasted in two different Riedel glass types, the aroma and taste of the wine differs, the varietal-specific glass bringing out the best in each of the wines we tasted, each introduced by charming and eloquent winemaker Jacques de Klerk:
* The Chardonnay 2010 had a different texture in the Riedel glass, being a surprise even to Jacques, and he was instantly hooked, as the Riedel Chardonnay Montrachet glass brought out the best in his wooded wine, giving brioche and fruit at the back of the palate. In the Riedel Chardonnay glass the taste was much softer and more velvety.
* The Chenin Blanc 2012 was tasted in an unwooded white blend glass, and once again tasted far better in the Riedel-varietal glass, even compared to tasting it in a Riedel Chardonnay glass, the citrus and intense fruit notes coming to the fore best. This is their flagship wine, being 100% barrel fermented and matured.
* The Pinot Noir 2012 was said to be ‘Wimbledon’, all strawberries and cream, as well as blackberries. When tasted in the ‘Joker’ glass, the wine had almost no aroma and the tannins were upfront, and could even make a wine taste corked, compared to drinking it in a Riedel Pinot Noir glass. The Radford Dale Pinot Noir grapes come from Elgin, which Jacques said is the leading terroir for Pinot Noir, with amazing soil types, high altitude, and true winter dormancy. He described this grape variety as being ‘heart breaking’, difficult to make, but getting better in South Africa. The grapes are harvested early, and he does not go ‘for a raspberry Kool- Aid style’, he explained descriptively, it having ‘powdery type tannins’, creating a ‘satin feel, almost lace like’.
* Black Rock 2009 is a Rhone blend of 71% Shiraz, 13% Carignan, 12% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre, and 1% Viognier, and was described as having a new car smell and spice aroma. It is ‘big, bold, and mouthwateringly good” in the Riedel Shiraz glass, said Jacques. The Syrah grapes come from the Perdeberg in the Swartland, a region with ancient granite soils, the vines never being irrigated.
* The Shiraz 2009 had been decanted in the unusually shaped Escargot decanter, as ‘wine and air are best friends’, especially for younger wines, ‘bringing the flavours and textures out of them‘, Jacques said. The grapes come from17 year old trellised vines in the Helderberg, which has ‘koffieklip’, pebbles in the shape of coffee beans. The grapes are unirrigated, the clay soil giving the wines a water reserve. The wine has paprika, clove, and violet aromas. It is low in sulphur.
* The Pinotage 2012 is named after Dr Frrankenstein, a humorous ode to the founder of the grape variety, being Dr Abraham Perold, and because Pinotage has been seen to be a monster by some who do not like the varietal. Jacques did say that if you treat it well as a winemaker, it gets better. Riedel does not have a Pinotage tasting glass, and encouraged the producers to club together for Riedel to make a Pinotage tasting glass mould.
* A vine-dried unfiltered dessert wine, fermented in old barrels for one year, and not made from bortrytised grapes, was a sweet end to an interesting tasting. This wine is mainly produced for own use.
Riedel’s new head Maximilian Riedel says that ‘Riedel turns every sip into a celebration‘. Tarryn explained that Riedel has different glass ranges, the Vinum restaurant range being machine made and costing about R70 per glass. The Sommelier range is handblown, and costs about R800 per glass. Riedel is a family owned eleventh generation company run for the past 250 years. The glass design is based on stimulating the senses, including sight, the lead crystal letting in more light; the sound, when the glasses are clinked; the weight is perfect to get it to one’s mouth, and does not have a rim; and its taste, the design directing the wine perfectly to the palate. Riedel was the first glass manufacturer to create glasses made from Austrian crystal on the basis of ‘the content dictates the shape’. The tongue has different ‘taste zones‘, sweet upfront, followed by salt, acid, and bitterness right at the back. The shape of the varietal-specific glasses directs the wine to the taste zone it is intended for.
Riedel would like top restaurants and wine estates to stock their glasses, to bring out the best in their wines. Riedel is used at Creation and Hamilton Russell in Hermanus, Delaire Graff, La Motte, Rust en Vrede, Waterkloof, Reuben’s Franschhoek, and the Kove restaurant group, including Pepenero, Paranga, Zenzero and Bungalow. Tarryn is willing to do tastings of South African wine varietals in Cape Town, and is a passionate champion for our local wines, having worked with Fridjhon for the past eight years.
Sales and Marketing Manager Angela Jordaan explained that The Winery of Good Hope was established by Alex Dale, British born but who grew up in Burgundy, and winemaker Ben Radford, in conjunction with Edouard Labeye, who lives in the Rhone valley, and is the master blender, coming to the wine estate four times a year. Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz are the three lead varietals of the company, which has four brands: Radford Dale, The Winery of Good Hope (Bush Vine Pinotage, Oceanside Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Mountainside Shiraz, Reserve Pinot Noir, Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, and Unoaked Chardonnay), Land of Hope (an empowerment project which receives 50% of the proceeds in the Land of Hope Trust, to fund the education of the children and relatives of their farm workers, with a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chenin Blanc), and Vinum Africa (Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc). All the wines of the company have screw caps, making them age better, giving the wines a better colour, and holding their structure better, Angela said. About three quarters of the wine is exported to eleven countries. The local market is important, but tough to crack, given the oversupply of wines in general. She emphasised that the passion of the company is to make quality wines.
The difference in taste of the Radford Dale wines in different glasses, and the enhanced taste of each wine in the appropriate Riedel varietal glass was an eye-opener to each of the guests at the tasting!
Riedel: The Wine Glass Company, The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company. Tel 073 304 7201. www.reciprocal.co.za Twitter: @ReciprocalWine
Radford Dale, The Winery of Good Hope, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 855-5528. www.thewineryofgoodhope.co.za Twitter: @AngJordie Tasting by appointment only.
I ♥ my Laundry, 59 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Tel 084 660 0777 (Clayton)/083 6020291 (Mico) www.Ilovemylaundry.co.za Twitter:@ILovemyLaundry, Monday – Sunday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage