Under the Hammer for Good Tasting

One of alcohol’s most redeeming features is the unbridled spirit of generosity it invokes. Take auctions. These are sly things.

I mean, will the auctioneer ever get up to start taking bids on a collection of wines while you and your sober diners are still working around the seafood bisque starter and talking about lawn-manicuring techniques, scarcely a drop of vino yet to pass your lips and affect that balanced mind?

No. Mister Auctioneer will wait until the end of the evening when, after having sucked a bottle of red and buoyed by your telling of a few cracking jokes, you are flush with confidence. So the bidding starts, and before you know it you have dropped a couple of grand on a batch or batches – of wine you most definitely had not set out to procure.

This happened to me last year during the launch of Wines of Wellington, an occasion celebrating Wellington’s promotion to that of independent and official wine district. And as these things go, I had just about forgotten about the stash until a chance meeting took me to the town centre where the local wine office reminded me of my auction-buying prowess.

Scenic Wellington.

The two batches contained a veritable spread from a region I deem to be one of the most exciting in South Africa. Terroir-diversity, unique agricultural landscape, progressive wine farmers and an honest, let’s-do-it-approach to winemaking are noticeable in Wellington, once a ward of Paarl. The wines, too, are distinctive. Juicy reds that cannot help but remind of the pulse of the Douro. Whites with strength, fruit and style.

I have not delved too deeply in the happy boxes, but two wines I picked got my motor revving.

First-up was the Barrel-Fermented Chenin Blanc 2009 from Welbedacht.?+¦-+?+¡I admit ignorance in not knowing where this wine fits into the Chenin Blanc Association’s overbearingly arrogant list of styles, but would like to state it speaks the language of Chenin I love.

The barrel gives the wine a stately presence and regal linearity without imparting any barrique overkill. The fruit is plush, lush, sexy and sweet. Pear, un-bruised apple and quince jelly rest on a lively, bracing layer of sunkissed-freshness. There is a touch of damp Egyptian cotton to give the wine an airy, oxygen-induced dryness, just to prevent the fruit notes from being too promiscuous and wrap this wonderful Chenin in a cloak that oozes regionality, style and class.

Next up was a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Bosman. Once again, pure distinctive regionality, a wine not trying to be Helderberg or Simonsberg.

The Bosman Cabernet has always appealed to me with the way it brings a spicy, almost Rhone-ish opulence to the party. The sultry spice does not, however, dominate the wine, instead complementing the typically powerful Cabernet flavours of ripe black fruit, prunes and pine-forest. It is beautiful wine on the palate with a splash of exotic flavours spreading out like a silk sheet to cover all senses.

Great stuff. Careless spending can reap rewards, it seems.

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