The first tasting of the night was with Morne Rall at the Riebeek Cellars booth. Riebeek is a winery about 40 minutes north of Cape Town in South Africa and has been producing wines here since the early 1940's, although the Riebeek names dates back to the 1600's when Jan Van Riebeek "possibly" received one of the first Chenin Blanc vines brought to South Africa. I couldn't have picked a better booth to start with. Morne was an energetic and very knowledgable guy from the marketing team back in South Africa. I started with the 2012 Chenin Blanc which was probably my highlight of the night. Chenin Blanc is one of the most planted grapes in South Africa. This dry wine had a wonderful fruity nose which carried right on to the flavors which included juicy apples, pear, and gooseberries along with some floral notes. This is a great wine to sit on the patio and drink but could esaily be paired with some cheeses, a summer soup such as a gazpacho or a spicy corn soup or and appetizer of proscutto or melons. It was such a crisp flavorful wine that had me begging for more. This is a MUST buy!! It retails for about $12.
That set the bar very high for the night but I had to try more of the Riebeek wines. Next up was the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Another outstanding wine with more of the tropical notes in both aroma and taste. The grapes for this wine came from various areas along the ocean. This would pair nicely with appetizers such as beef carpacio, sushi or a spicy asian dish. The Sauvignon Blanc also retails for about $12.
The third and final white from Riebeek Cellars was the 2012 Chardonnay which is an un-oaked chardonnay with rich citrus flavors such as papaya and . This golden colored wine had more body to it than the first two wines and would be a nice pairing for fish, rissoto, chicken or pork. The alcohol content is 14.47% compared to the 12% in the Chenin Blanc. I did find the Chardonnay in CT the following day and served it with crostinis and dips for a get together of several familes.
I will certainly be on the lookout for more of the Riebeek wines and I highly recommend all of these. I would certainly like to hear if you have tried any of these.
Next up was another South African wine. Since my oldest son's name is Max, I had to try The Max from Stonybrook Vineyards in the Franschhoek Valley in the western Cape. The 2009 Max, named after the winemaker's dog, was a bordeaux blend of 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 10% being Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. This was a very nice wine with deep purple hue, plenty of dark fruit on the nose and palate along with some back end spice. This was a well rounded wine with soft tanins. The Max, which retails for about $24, could be enjoyed with most meals from steaks to burgers to lamb chops.