TASTE OF TYGER VALLEY WINE FESTIVAL
30 June 2017
Tyger Valley Centre was a bold and unusual place in which to hold a wine festival (R150 entry fee). I hadn’t been shopping here before, parked at the end opposite the Arena, and soon realised just how large the Mall is. It was a Friday evening and when I arrived the intimate venue was pleasantly busy – busy enough for atmosphere but not so busy as to make moving between the vendor stalls difficult.
It was the first ever Taste of Tyger Valley Wine Festival. For obvious reasons perhaps, I was expecting to taste wines from Durbanville and Philadelphia. This was not the case. I was told by the event organisers that most of those expected to attend – interestingly some 70% were estimated to be ‘walk in’ attendees – would already know the local wines and so be unlikely to participate.
There was not one wine farm that I had visited though I knew of many. The producers came from far and wide: Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington, Hermanus, Worcester, Tulbach, Hemel-en-Aarde and Calitzdorp. I tasted 26 wines made from 14 cultivars by 12 producers and in 5 styles. I much prefer to taste wines on the property that they are grown and made. However, the benefit of a festival is being able to explore many wines in a short space of time. There are too many to describe all in detail but I shall pick out some highlights.
It was not only wine producers who attended. I saw (but did not taste) gin as well as other stalls selling wine gifts, Lindt chocolates, Le Creuset ovenware, coffee and light snacks. Wooden pallets were used to cordon off the festival area and this made for a nice rustic feel.
The only MCC I tasted was from Montpelier du Tulbach, a farm with typical French name albeit in an Afrikaans-speaking area. The Brut Chardonnay (5 years on the lees) was good value for the quality. This was a well-balanced and very drinkable wine, with smooth moussante bubbles in the mouth and flavours of baked apples and dry toast. I learned from Blaauklippen that pétillant means ‘slightly sparkling. Their Ons Sprankel (literally ‘we are sparkling’) rosé, carbonated and made from Shiraz grapes, was adequate and made for the easy drinking market.
I tasted single variety White Zinfandel (more Blanc de Noir) and Grenache Blanc for the first time. The cool climate Sauvignons Blanc from the Benguela Cove Estate and Hermanuspietersfontein caught my attention. I preferred – but only just – the one from Benguela Cove. It was my favourite wine of the evening. Unusually an ‘ancient’ 2014 vintage for a Sauvignon Blanc, the wine was surprisingly fruity – guava, litchi and kiwi with grassy, citrus undertones – for one grown just 3 kilometres from the ocean. The acidity was typically high to give a crisp, minerally and clean mouthfeel.
By comparison, the Kaalvoet Meisie (meaning ‘barefoot girl’) Sauvignon Blanc from Hermanuspietersfontein showed more typical herbaceous, grassy and melon flavours. It too was well balanced and structured.
The red wines were mixed in my opinion. The Malbec from Diemersfontein was deep ruby and full body in appearance. This was a big aromatic wine with flavours full of rich dark berries with unexpected underlying chilli spiciness. Oaky, dry tannins emerged on the palates. The Perdeberg Malbec was another wine with much going on and a big nose, aided by the 14% alcohol content.
The Hermanuspietersfontein Merlot was my favourite red wine. It had great redcurrant, cranberry, mulberry and cassis flavour complexity with clean, dry, cedar and oaky tannins to bring balance on the palate.
The red and white Muscadels, made from sweetened grape juice with added wine spirit, were characteristically syrupy sweet. I enjoyed the Benguela Cove Natural Sweet wine. I would never have guessed it was made from Viognier grapes. The flavours surprised by being fruity rather than floral – honey, nougat, raisin, apricot and nectarine – and turned to off-dry on the plate. It had a light mouthfeel (10% alcohol).
The Peter Bayly Cape White offered a similar warm, sweet to off-dry tasting experience. Made from Chenin Blanc in old Chardonnay barrels, raisin, citrus and apricot flavours matched the dark orange colour.
The Festival worked for me and obviously so for the others who attended. It was well organised and had many good points. Several producers were selling their wines with ‘show discounts’ as an incentive to buy. This is not always the case and a welcome initiative. The chosen area was just the right size too for the number attending and for the number of producers present. I would have liked spittoons and more water at each stall, both to drink and to rinse my ‘free’ festival tasting glass. I gather from the event organisers that all producers were asked to bring. Tighter supervision will be easier for future events.
In sum, I shall certainly consider attending in future and recommend the event to friends and wine lovers.
Wines tasted (* bought):
2011 Montpellier du Tulbach MCC Brut Chardonnay – R165
2016 Mooiplaas Sauvignon Blanc – R105
2017 Mooiplaas Chenin Blanc Bush Vines – R90
2017 Blaauklippen White Zinfandel – R112
2016 Diemersfontein Sauvignon Blanc – R60
2015 Perdeberg Grenache Blanc – R65
2014 Benguela Cove Estate Sauvignon Blanc – R95 FAVOURITE WINE
2015 Hermanuspietersfontein Kaalvoet Meisie Sauvignon Blanc – R110
2017 Eagles Cliff Shiraz Rosé – R40
NV Blaauklippen Ons Sprankel Pétillant Shiraz Rosé – R85
2015 Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos Rosé (Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) – R95
2011 Montpellier du Tulbach Cabernet Sauvignon – R160
2013 Peter Bayly III (44% Touriga Naçional, 33% Souzao, 23% Tinta Barocca) – R150
2015 Blaauklippen Cabriolet (39% Shiraz, 36% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot) – R100
2015 Blaauklippen Red Zinfandel – R112
2015 Diemersfontein Malbec – R170
2015 Perdeberg Malbec – R75
2013 Yonder Hill Merlot – R190
2015 Benguela Cove Estate Shiraz – R170
2015 Hermanuspietersfontein Merlot – R100
2014 Spookfontein Cabernet Franc – R105
NV Peter Bayly Cape White Chenin Blanc (500 ml) – R100
NV Montagu Wines & Spirits Red Muscadel (Muscat d’Frontignan) – R50
NV Montagu Wines & Spirits White Muscadel (Muscat d’Frontignan) – R50
2017 Blaauklippen Before & After Aperitif (40% Zinfandel, 40% Malbec, 20% Brandy) (500 ml) – R250
2015 Benguela Cove Natural Sweet Viognier (375 ml) – R100