In farming no two years are the same. There are dry years and wet years, cool years and not ones, windy years and calm years and farmers – no matter what branch of agriculture they’re in — have to adapt to all these changes.
This is particularly true of wine farming. Each vintage brings its surprises. Each vintage is stamped with the changes of that particular year.
This is what makes a “vertical tasting” of wines so interesting.
(For those who are new to wine tasting, a vertical tasting is one in which several vintages of the same wine are tasted and compared. A horizontal tasting consists of tasting several similar wines from different cellars, but from the same vintage.)
I was privileged to attend a vertical tasting of the Galpin Peak Pinot Noirs from the Bouchard Finlayson cellar in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley recently.
The selection ranged back to the 2003 vintage and all the wines showed the elegant earthiness and dark berry fruit we expect from Pinot Noirs from that area.
The earlier vintages showed that these wines just keep on improving year after year. The tannins soften, the mouth-feel becomes increasingly silky and the wine develops harmony and elegance.
If the line-up is anything to go by, the great vintages like the ’07 will be quite stunning in another five or six years’ time.
Winemakers tell me Pinot Noir is a tricky grape that needs careful attention to bring out its full potential.
Peter Finlayson has had more experience of pinot than most South African winemakers, and obviously knows how to get the very best from the grape.
It’s no wonder the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir regularly comes among the very top scoring wines reviewed in the Platter Wine Guide.
GOOD PORT IS FOREVER … WELL NEARLY
Still on the subject of vertical tastings, it was a delight to attend a tasting of a whole line-up of Boplaas’s Vintage Reserve ports.
Port, it seems, just lasts and lasts forever. After 10 years and more, they’re as warm and inviting as ever.
Interestingly some of the older Boplaas ports were bottled with screw-caps as well as corks, so we could compare their ageing.
I found very little difference in the quality of the two, although I am a screw-cap enthusiast. Both were delicious. I am told, however, that wines sealed with screw-caps tend to be more consistent after a few years, while cork-sealed wines may vary from bottle to bottle.
It’s interesting to note that the sugar content of our best ports has been steadily reduced over the years and at around 90g/l they’re almost dry in character, without sacrificing any of the richness and warmth for which port is famous.
My advice is to stock up with a selection of Cape ports for winter. It could be a long, chilly one.