Two Cool Chenins and a Crap Shiraz

The Orange River - great wines
The Orange River - great wines

Oranjerivier Wine Cellars Chenin Blanc 2008
The Oranjerivier Wine Cellars, making wine from vineyards cultivated along 300km of the Orange River’s unique terror in the Upington region, is becoming a serious contender on the South African wine scene. Now employing three viticulturalists who have been briefed to focus on quality instead of the traditional quantity, some sparkling summery wines are being made in the five cellars that constitute Oranjerivier Wine Cellars.
With the Chenin Blanc 2009 surely to be launched soon, I went back to the 2008 and discovered it had worn its year in the bottle with dignified excellence. It has a crunchy apple and lemon grip, with plenty of tropical fruit on the mid-palate. The finish is long and refreshing. Un-wooded, this wine is sans pretentiousness or wannabe-complications. Good Chenin, with a distinctively different taste to that made in the Western Cape. Think fresh, wet and dripping. You can almost hear it splash.

Graham Beck Gamekeeper’s Reserve Chenin Blanc 2008gamekeepers-reserve-chenin1
Plenty of summer melons and sweet fruit year. In fact, in the upfront-fruit department it beats hell out of the famed FMC, being about a quarter of the price and without the overdone botrytis bit. Possibly the best Chenin I have tasted this year, the wine is un-wooded and made from old bushvines in the Perderberg area.
It has a dollop of South African sunshine, local Chenin at its best and done to perfection. Melon and a hint of honeycomb drift on a ripple of zesty lime, gooseberry and peach. The mix of acidity and succulent fruit is gorgeous.
I would love to see what happens should Pieter Ferreira, Graham Beck’s winemaker, experiment by using some of these very same grapes for an MCC fizz.
Shared royalties would be appreciated and welcomed, sir!

Obikwa Shiraz 2008
The content is almost as despicable as the garish label, which looks like it was designed in a brothel. Described as just the thing for the “adventurous lover of life and wine looking for something different”, this sickly sweet wine so redolent of cough syrup and wine gums had me gagging by the third glass.
The label says Shiraz, but it could be anything. Just leave the grapes to rot, bung it in a tank and allow enough sugar to remain to attract the younger wine-drinking crowd.

Besides its potential use as a date-rape drug, this stuff does not deserve shelf-space on God’s earth.

Earl Dexter

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