Quintuplet of South African Quaffers That You Just Can’t Go Wrong With…

It’s the question that occupies the minds of most wine consumers and also many wine buyers… which wines offer great value!?

Today we opened up a selection of excellent value wines for a visiting UK wine journalist and I snuck in after lunch to taste and review five of my favourites.

Welbedacht Estate Bohemian Syrah, WO Wellington 2016 – 92+/100

A big, bold, impressive creation not unlike its owner Schalk Burger Senior. Packed full of sweet blueberry, baking spices, grilled herbs, black olive, black cherry and pithy plum skins. Fleshy and broad, this wine has grown in stature and acquired extra balance and depth in the past 6 months. Ready to go now. Braai optional!

Mullineux Family Wines Kloof Street Red 2017, WO Swartland, 14 Abv. – 91/100

A blend of 90% Syrah, 4% Carignan, 2% Grenache, 2% Cinsault, 1% Tinta Barroca, 1% Mourvèdre. Beautiful sweet grilled herbs, barbecued meat fat and fleshy, sappy black berry fruits. Plenty of cured meat nuances, black olive and a deliciously distinguished long finish. Real class for the money.

Bosman 8 Generations 2018, WO Wellington, 12 Abv. – 88+/100

Clean direct and pure, this shows grassy thatch, dry bush veld and sweet resinous sappy notes. Definite dried lemon peel, herbs and gravel minerality and a cool, stony finish. Impressive price / quality ratio.

Alheit Family Flotsam & Jetsam 2017, WO Western Cape, 13.5 Abv. – 91+/100

Fabulously sappy, stemmy, grassy, wet thatch and mineral yellow orchard fruits. Classy depth and superb concentration. Lovely wine with a sprinkle of Chris Alheit magic.

Sumaridge Chardonnay 2014, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, 13 Abv. – 92/100

Instant Meursault-like richness and exoticism, liquid minerality, resinous sap and spice and an underlying core of smokey, peachy, spicy apple and citrus pastille fruits. Old world ringer. Just tastes so Burgundian! An intriguing cool climate Walker Bay wine that packs a really complex punch.

A Pot of Gold Waiting For The Consumer at the End of the Meerkat Rainbow – Tasting the Burrow Blend 2016… One of the Best Value Reds On the Market.

With the ongoing drive towards premiumisation of wine, it becomes harder and harder to find great value, authentic, high quality, unadulterated wine expressions. So the market almost relies indirectly on the “philanthropy” of people and producers like Schalk Burger Snr.

With expansive old vine vineyards, the Welbedacht Estate has been the envy of the Cape wine scene for not only growing a plethora of diverse grape varieties but also by being able to produce good volumes of high quality premium wine. The Meerkat Pinotage is already a legendary wine having featured on the Nederburg Auction in the past. But I was impressed to hear that the Meerkat Burrow Blend has now become one of their biggest selling wines in the range. But I guess wine consumers know a good thing when they taste it!

Schalk Burger & Sons Meerkat Burrow Blend 2016, WO Wellington, 13.5 Abv. 

A gregarious red blend made up of mostly Pinotage and Merlot but which also includes up to 7 varieties from the Welbedacht Estate on the Groenberg in the final blend. This “value” red is a triumph of intelligent winemaking displaying an impressive vibrancy and fragrant lift with a delicious mouth watering bouquet of damson plums, mulberries, bramble berries and earthy red currants all topped with a generous dusting of mocha powder and vanilla pod spice. The texture is silky soft, beautifully weighted, generously fruited without being sweet or unctuous but always attractively fleshy and alluring. The opulent Pinotage blueberry notes are chaperoned by the plummy, milk chocolate spice of the Merlot allowing the wine to finish with an attractive accessibility and more’ish crunch. Who would have thought this could be an improvement on the delicious 2015!? Drink now to 2022+

(Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW) 

Tasting the Gregarious High Quality Value Red Blend from Welbedacht’s Meerkat Wines Range… 

One thing having large vineyard holdings affords you is fruit selection. The Schalk Burger & Sons Welbedacht farm in Wellington in the Western Cape is a classic example of this. I’ve always enjoyed the premium wines of Schalk Burger Snr, especially the Cricket Pitch red blend and the Bohemian Syrah. But tasting today with Schalk Burger Snr and his UK shipper, it was the modest £9.99 Meerkat Burrow Blend 2015 that came up trumps.


Other than Schalk fulfilling his long term ambition to include the word “Gregarious” on the front label, he has also succeeded in creating an exceptionally delicious, quality focused, unpretentious red. 


I can often be heard complaining that South Africa does not have quite enough value reds of high quality that are suitably priced or positioned for independent merchants. But this is a very impressive creation that ticks so many boxes and keeps you coming back for another sip, and another! 


Schalk Burger & Sons Meerkat Burrow Red Blend 2015, Wellington, 14.5 Abv.

The nose is seductively wild, with black forest berries, oodles of bramble berry spice, black currant compote, and a sweet, cedary, vanilla pod dusting. Key to the palate is its light weight opulence, succulent texture, fleshy breadth and a juicy long mulberry fruited finish. I can’t remember what grapes go into this blend, and I suspect it changes every year anyway, but the 2015 is thoroughly delicious and impressively well made. For me, 10/10 in the drinkability stakes, this is a perfect BBQ red that will add much cheer and enjoyment to any social occasion. 

(Wine Safari Score: 88+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) 

UK Shipper: The Sporting Wine Club

http://www.thesportingwineclub.com

Tasting the Perfect Bohemian Bank Holiday Syrah from Schalk Burger & Son’s Welbedacht Wine Estate in Wellington…

There can be no doubting the pedigree of the Syrah fruit grown at the Welbedacht Estate in Wellington. Some of the best grapes have been siphoned off quietly for other “premium” WO Western Cape Syrah for years. The large Welbedacht Estate (pronounced “well-be-duct”) is situated in one of the Cape’s most picturesque landscapes near Wellington, a warm climate region which seems ideally suited to the cultivation and production of world class Rhone varieties like Syrah.


Welbedacht is also home to the Burger family, surely one of the country’s most recognised sporting names. Schalk Senior was a formidable Springbok rugby player back in his day (and his handshake still is), and son Schalk Junior has followed in his father’s size 14 footsteps representing South Africa multiple times as a Springbok and who is now playing out the twilight of his career at Saracens in the UK. Second son, Tiaan, hung up his provincial rugby boots a few years ago and now heads up the cellar’s marketing operations.


In 1995, Schalk bought his first farm, Af-en-Toe, and started farming with 40 hectares of Cinsaut and Chenin Blanc. This was followed by the purchase of Welbedacht in 1997. Dating back to 1830s, it was a bit run down, but the water and the established old trees may have led to the decision to buy it. Welbedacht means “well thought out” in Dutch, and this is precisely how the Burger family approached the extensive restoration of this gracious property to its previous glory.


Schalk Burger & Sons Welbedacht Wine Estate Bohemian Syrah 2015, WO Wellington, 14.5 Abv.

The 2015 Syrah is probably one of the best I have tried from the Estate. There is a seductively rich intense nose of blueberry crumble, ripe black berries, mulberries and an alluring lift of vanilla pod mixed with violets, cherry blossom and sweet oak spice. Despite the 14.5 Abv, this lush rich wine is light on its feet, vibrant and thoroughly vital, with lovely clean linear acids and powdery tannins that punctuate the palate texture perfectly. The nose continues to open up in the glass revealing subtle bruleed coffee bean notes, fynbos, savoury cured meats, sweet black peppercorns, and a ripe black cherry kirsch intensity on the finish. The wine is drinking so beautifully now it would be a shame to bury it away in the cellar. Opulent, expressively dark fruited, this delicious purity should be enjoyed now and over as many stages of development as possible. Drink now to 2028+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)