A few bottles

As is the case with names from SA’s yesteryears, it is often with surprise that I drink a really good bottle. There’s no doubt that these names can make good wines, or reason they can’t, it’s just that the surge in new, sexier labels has put them largely in the shadows, especially on the shelves. So it was with the La Motte Chardonnay 2004 that I enjoyed with a roast chicken and polenta lunch. A good balance of oak and freshness make this a fine drink, and one that stays interesting over the whole bottle.

A bottle that started murky and too clumsy for me, but then pulled itself into fine shape was the 2001 Graham Beck “The Ridge” Syrah. With bold fruits and wood, they clearly make this wine to age, and after five years it can still wait a while longer. One of those times that I was glad to have resisted opening on release, the wine was finessed enough to have a few people guessing it was cooler climate shiraz.

Speaking of cooler climates, a quick taste-off of a number of sauvignons yesterday with some winemakers showed that it really is hard to pick the warmer climes from the cooler ones in the bottle. A Doolhof 2006 (from “warm” Wellington) was picked as a cool region, simply making the point that generalisation is dangerous, for pockets that subvert the norm exist – and modern methods of winemaking/choice of yeast/barrel can shape the wines’ character so powerfully.

A provocative question: Until all wineries really are reflecting site, it is almost foolish to talk regionality?