Paarl Puts Out the Flags for Stormin’ Norman


Wine wordsmith stormin’ Norman McFarlane (below) was thrown into the blind tasting deep end this morning at the annual Paarl Vintners Chenin and Shiraz Challenges and emerged dripping but jubilant. He’d got his feet wet earlier in the month judging the Young Wine Show so he knew which side of the glass to taste from (the outside).

Norman won the Franschhoekfranschhoekcellarwines Paarl Puts Out the Flags for Stormin’ Norman
by franschhoekwines
wine writers Award
last year and although his entry this year was even better, it went into the rubbish bin of judge and radio personality John Maytham’s. Along with those from Michael Fridjhon (2012 Roederer international wine columnist of the year) and previous Franshhoek winner Joanne Gibson – both renominated for Roederer roem this year again. Nice one, John!

IMG 0657 168x300 Paarl Puts Out the Flags for Stormin’ Norman

There were 15 WO Paarl Chenins in the first flight (above) and 16 WO Paarl Shiraz in the second and wine #13 came first in both tastings. Unlucky for some, not! Chenin Challenge chairman Ken Forrester made the interesting point that the UK press and Bacchanalian bloggers seem to have an aversion to SA Chenin when they know it comes from SA – the curse of Platter strikes again.

Yet when SA Chenin is tasted blind and three quality Chenins from France are included as ringers, as was the case with a recent tasting at the Antique Wine Company in London, not one of two groups of 40+ bloggers, wine hacks and even Masters of Wine could finger the three French ringers in a line-up of seven wines – even with the incentive of a trip to SA at stake.

Yet a couple of recent tastings of SA Chenin in Decanter (simply the best wine magazine in the world, not!) and the Telegraph turned in some “shocking scores” for the cultivar. But then they knew the wines were all from SA. Fancy that!

A final flight of 14 wines, vinified in Paarl from grapes not necessarily grown in Paarl, was won by a Shiraz blend with a pyrazene-rich Merlot in second place. Which should make the wine buyers at Checkers happy as Larry as Merlot is their top selling red cultivar, by a country mile.