The Rompel Report: Me and the Good Value Guru @ Juliet Cullinan


It might sound a bit like tasting fatigue, but the annual Juliet Cullinan wine-tasting at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg followed the Meridian Spring Festival and the annual Reciprocal tasting, the MCC Spring Festival at the Hyde Park shopping centre, and was followed by the Good Wine & Food Show at the Coca-Cola Dome. The mega-size WINEX at the end of October at the Sandton Convention Centre is still to follow.

n1a The Rompel Report: Me and the Good Value Guru @ Juliet Cullinan

Needless to say the old Wanderer’s clubhouse always sets a wonderful scene for Juliet’s annual tasting. As in the previous years, 60 handpicked winefarms display four (or more) selected wines of their entire repertoire. Whilst I did my rounds following the old principle to taste the whites first and then the reds, the GVG was already ahead of me making his mind up about the best buys.

Remarkably was the (almost) first appearance of the 2011 Sauvignon Blancs, freshly bottled and ready for drinking, however, the vintage hasn’t convinced me yet. I found many of the new SB’s very acidic and lacking in fruit. Maybe they need another few months (or years) to mature in the bottle.

Kaapzicht’s Cape Blend, Steytler Vision has now really matured. It is a stand-out benchmark for all Pinotage producers and blenders. Danie Steytler seems to have perfected the art of dealing with this difficult grape. Hopefully many others follow his lead. Danie has also produced a Bordeaux Blend for the first time in the Steytler range. It is still young, but watch this space, it has the potential to rock the boat of the Bordeaux Blend establishment.

Below I have summarised my tasting results, which I did bounce off the GVG at the end of tasting. Sadly many people agreed with me that the wine of the evening was not South African, but then again it is hard to beat French Champaign at its best on any given evening.

Best Sauvignon Blanc – Southern Right 2011, followed by Constantia Glen 2010
Best Chardonnay – Bouchard Finlayson Kaaimansgat 2010
Best Red Quaffer – Kaapzicht Bin 3 2008 (R 51.50 on the evening)
Best Pinotage – Kaapzicht Steytler 2007, followed by Rijk’s Reserve 2007
Best Cabernet Sauvignon (lower price range) – Kleine Zalze 2009
Best Cabernet Sauvignon (upper price range) – Thelema 2008
Best Pinot Noir – Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2009 (beating Hamilton Russell again)
Best Merlot – De Trafford 2008
Best Blend – Steytler Pentagon 2007 and De Toren Fusion V 2008
Wine of the evening – Pol Roger NV Champagne (sold by Great Domaines)