Last Tue I attended another one of those free wine tasting sessions at &Union. Yes I know it was Valentines day and all, but I was only seeing the BF later, so could quickly squeeze this in before hand. Sweet. :)
Now usually you get to taste about 5 or 6 wines. But this time around there was a whopping 9 wines on the line-up, two of which were fancy pants French wines. Ooooooooh.
The showcase for the evening was from a family run, boutique winery in Franschhoek called Haut Espoir (meaning “High Hope”). Sweet-as-pie, Rob Armstrong, started off by giving us some background on the farm before moving on to letting us taste their glorious wine offerings. He noted that everything on the farm is done carefully and with extra time, the term “rush” is totally a foreign concept over there. As a result their vintage list is generally a few years older than the norm in SA.
Then we got cracking on those 9 wines. First up was a the Haut Espoir Cloud Fall 2009 – a white blend made up of 5 different grape varieties: 34% Semillon; 33% Viognier; 6% Chardonnay; 26% Nouvelle; 1% Sav Blanc. I’m generally not a fan of white blends. So this one wasn’t my favourite.
Then we moved on to a selection of rosé wines – cause it was the day of love after all and that lovely pink colour of the wines suited the theme of the day:
We also learnt all about “residual sugar” which is how much sugar is left in the wine after fermentation is complete and basically tells you how sweet the wine is going to be. So with rosé wine the residual sugar (RS) is higher than with white wine for example. (might be common sense to you guys – but it was new to me as I usually just glug down wine without much thought )
The first rosé we tried was their 2007 vintage. It was absolutely beautiful and the fact that he only had 2 bottles left from that year is a clear indication that it was a hot seller. Next up we tried their 2008 vintage. Rob noted that they had far too much rain that year which had an impact on the taste of the wine. The grapes didn’t have enough time to get “oumens gesiggies” as he calls it – which directly translated means “old people faces” – this is usually needed to give the wine better flavour. You could definitely taste a huge difference between the 2007 and 2008 wines.
The 2009 vintage was my favourite. It had a slight almond taste to it and it was very smooth. This one sadly is also in short supply… bummer. The 2010 vintage was very enjoyable as well, but Rob noted that it probably needs a bit more time before reaching it’s full potential.
Next we got to sample two international wines which Rob had purchased on an auction. He let us try them to do a taste comparison between the local style of rosé and that which the French produces. First up was a Tavel 2008 wine:
A bottle like this would probably set you back about R180. I found it to be very dry in comparison to the Haut Espoir wines we tasted. The next was a Domaines OTT 2010 wine. Weirdly this one didn’t have that bright pink colour at all – it was quite pale and had more of a vanilla taste.
A bottle of this baby would set you back around R350 – which is quite steep, but I loved this one. Rob said he thought it needed more time to age. I thought to myself “What is this ageing they keep talking about… why would you have wine lying around without drinking it?!”
To finish off the tasting we sampled two of the Haut Espoir red wines: First up was the 2007 Gentle Giant – which is a blend consisting of: 32% Merlot; 29% Syrah; 25% Petit Verdot; 9% Cab Franc; 5% Cab Sav. It had a slight honey scent to it, which was pretty cool, but it wasn’t my favourite. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 however blew my hair back:
I’m definitely considering adding that baby to my wine collection at home. Now I’m not gonna lie, by that point I was battling to stay upright on my stool. Actually I was starting to battle from wine number 5 already. hehe. You see you get quite descent servings for the tasting and it’s not one of those “taste & spit out” vibes, you sit, sip, listen & enjoy… So it got a bit hectic. But hell it was a fun ride! I’m giving this week a skip to focus on gym and other boring stuff, but after this killer session, I’m totally hooked!
Follow @andunionwine on Twitter to stay up to date with what wines you can sample at their upcoming tastings and remember to email Gemma on firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot (they happen every Tue & Thu at 6pm).