Last Glass to Ponceville

No, please. Don’t tell me I have turned into a wine ponce….not now. Not ever.

One of the features of homo sapiens vino wankerus is his or her preconceived idea that the use of new wood in the fermentation and/or maturation of wine is nearly as big a crime as to imply that South Africa makes decent Merlot and that oxidised white wine from old vines is not brilliant. I have seen this species, noted them sniffing at a glass of Shiraz, almost to inhaling point, until the tiniest whiff of mocha of smoke is detected before putting down the vessel with a shake of the head and a “tut-tut….over-wooded”.


Personally I believe that a good Chardonnay, Pinotage or any Bordeaux red cultivar will not reach its full potential without some time spent gathering its thoughts and reaching puberty in a brand new barrel of oak, preferably French.

The judicious way in which our winemakers are currently working their wood, so to speak, has elevated standards to the point where a clumsily oaked wine stands out like an Iman in a Bree Street Bacon Bar.

This is the case with a recent wine coming my way, namely the Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Chenin Blanc 2014. The appealing freshness, sexy complexity and nuanced flavours of broken rock, flowers and citrus that is found in so many South African Chenin Blancs has gone Awol in this wine, the result of a plank lying obtrusively on it all. Strange thing is, only 20% of the wine’s component is wooded so this must have been one hell of a damn piece of oak.

Obviously the stuffy seal caused by the screwcap can help accentuate the wine’s inability to process unnatural components, such as sulphur and wood traces. Next time I’ll decant the bottle and see what happens – or has happened – on the road to Wine Ponceville. No anorak required.


Wine moment of the week was me opening a bottle from my just-landed consignment of Calon Ségur 2008. My Bordeaux consultant, David Finlayson, agreed to take time from a punishing schedule to attack the bottle which I carried with the care of a new-born Dachshund.

Decanted for 15 minutes, the wine took my breath-away. There was a woody around, but it wasn’t on the wine.

Perfectly layers fermented juice of grape eased its way past my lips, nervous with expectation. The liquid bore pure stuff, all natural: cedar smoke in a cave of old granite, Dutch liquorice with a hit of salt, fine fresh black-currents and pungent fallen crab-apples. Not a note out of place, beautifully delicate with graceful curves and long, rippling muscles. All memory.

Calon Ségur. Nothing like it, for me.

– Emile Joubert

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