I have been an avid supporter of OpenWine, ever since Seth Shezi and I went to pop in to see the wine tasting service and wine shop, which opened on Wale Street in August last year. I enjoyed their weekly wine estate introductions and tastings, which were held for a couple of months. On Tuesday Llewellyn Lambert and I attended a new format wine educational and tasting at OpenWine.
Italian OpenWine owners Marta Gobbo and Raphael Paterniti arrived in Cape Town as tourists, and loved the city so much that they decided to open a centralized wine tasting centre on Wale Street, bringing wines from the many wine regions in the Cape to one central venue in Cape Town! Uniquely they decided to select some wines of the week, and paired each of these wines with an Italian dish, written up weekly on a chalkboard.
For a number number of months we met representatives of various wineries which stocked their wines at OpenWine, and we tasted their wines. The sessions brought the information into the city, and the one hour introduction to the wine estates and wines was informative, and I documented these on my Blog. Looking for a new format, Marta and Raphael, with Tom Prior who handles Sales and Marketing for Marianne Wines, devised a new format, focused on the blind tasting of wines. Two months ago I was invited to a trial run of a tasting of Chenin Blancs, led by Tom.
We were seated at one long table, about 15 of us. I only recognized the Oneiric Tasting Room Manager Khail van Niekerk, and regular fellow attendees of our wine estate sessions Heike La and Charles Assaf. Six glasses had been set up, which we had to number from one to six, and we were given a score sheet to record our evaluation of each wine, giving it a Bronze (71 – 80), Silver (81 – 90), or Gold (91 plus) score. Tom told us that the category was Sauvignon Blanc. We were challenged to also identify the origin of the wine, and record whether it was cool climate or not. Wines were poured from bottles wrapped in paper. Tom introduced the category, saying that Springfield was the benchmark for Sauvignon Blancs, typically giving a spectrum of green to tropical notes.
On completion of the tasting and evaluation, Tom spoke to each wine, obtaining a feel for our scores, and asked the Gold scorers to justify their scores. The scores were not unanimous, and quite divergent for some of the wines. The tasting concluded with a seventh wine being poured, for us to taste and to score. I have listed the seven wines below, with some of the comments made about each of the Sauvignon Blancs we tasted:
# Oneiric Sauvignon Blanc 2013: creamy, acidity, cool climate, asparagus, screwcap, perhaps too acidic. Picked very ripe. From Elgin. Older Sauvignon Blanc.
# Balela Sauvignon Blanc 2016: First vines were planted in 2010, and the first wine produced in 2011. Gooseberry, vanilla, and flintiness on the nose. Fermentation in Steel tanks. Maturation in 3rd fill barrels, some batonage. Alcohol level of 12,5%. R 140 at OpenWine.
# Marianne Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2016: From Stellenbosch. Spicy, wooded, French owned estate, all grapes from the estate, some Semillon added. Spent nine months in new oak (50%), and the balance in 3rd fill barrels. R253 at OpenWine.
#. The Berrio Weather Girl Sauvignon Blanc 2015: This wine was described as full bodied, flavorful, grassy, green, asparagus, cut grass, and as a classic Cape Sauvignon Blanc. It comes from Elim, and is a blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. It was also described as having gooseberry, passion fruit, green pepper, and lemon grass. Its vines are 14 years old. Elim has the most southernly Atlantic Ocean Vineyards.
# Silvermist Sauvignon Blanc 2015: This is an organic-certified wine from Constantia
# Noble Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2016: The wine was described as having a shy aroma, being sweet, balanced, thin, not having substance. The acidity was said to be ‘flabby‘. The wine was made from a 29 year old vine, with small berries.
# Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fume 2016: This wine was described as fresh, refined, ‘better than the rest’, a ‘thinking wine‘, not a local wine, having straw and oats, flintiness, minerality, with natural acidity, and gooseberry. Tom told us that it was from the right bank of the Loire. It costs R442 at OpenWine.
As part of the cost of the ‘Blind Date’, a plate of Italian pasta
was offered. The scores were averaged, and the Marianne Wines Sauvignon Blanc was rated best of the seven wines we tasted.
We saw Mulberry & Prince chefs Cornel Mostert and Cynthia Rivera in ‘civvies’, in one of the front rooms, preparing a new Winter Menu for their restaurant.
I provided feedback to Marta and Raphael about the tasting, which was the most disruptive I have ever experienced at OpenWine, the alcohol appearing to take effect very quickly!
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the tasting as a guest of OpenWine.
OpenWine Taste Pair Shop, 72 Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-0800. www.openwineza.co.za Instagram: @openwine_za
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein