If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Today’s post is a bit of a throw back. The name of this wine estate, rings tones of The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon for me. I am literally hearing UB40’s Red, Red Wine in my head as I write.
“A Shiraz again!”, you are probably thinking. Alas, it is winter and that’s the wine I seem to find comfort in. When I am not exploring for new experiences, I am wont to stay in the safety of what I know. I call this a throw back as I last drank this wine in 2015. We went to Babylonstoren for lunch, to celebrate Chomba’s birthday, and thinking of a dear friend we lost recently, you start stacking up the places where you had fun together, and Babylonstoren was one of them.
The saying “never judge a book by its cover”, is the theme I guess. Wine is tricky, and as there is so much of it out there to try, it really is an art to try and only get HITS without the MISS featuring every so often. Spoiler alert, I have made a conscious effort to only write about the wine experiences I enjoyed, so seeing as I am writing about the Babylonstoren Shiraz, I clearly liked it. I am curious though, if I had just seen this wine on a store shelf and not encountered it as part of a Chomba’s clebration day, would I have even picked up the wine bottle and tried it? Would I have missed out on a great wine and wine estate, because I judged the contents in the bottle, based on how the wine bottle looked and the way the ‘label’ was interpreted by my senses?
When Chomba booked our lunch at Babylonstoren, I had never heard of the estate. Then one day, listening to a radio show which believe it or not has a finance theme, the estate was mentioned, purely by relationship status to the company then being discussed. That brought the estate into ‘my existence’, but still not clearly. Only the association, was a lift for the wine estate. Factoring that the booking was well in advance, and we were told about how long the waiting list was for their restaurants, my expectations and association made for a ‘premium experience’. I was not disappointed. It was a mild May day, not pouring with rain. The sun would tease every so often, so not totally grey. On arrival at the estate, the grounds were fairly damp, with patches of puddles as we walked towards the farm house buildings, where we started with the wine tasting.
When you are celebrating with friends, the weather tends to be warmer than it really is, and we braved it and sat on the outside benches to do some wine tasting. The Tasting Room they have today was not in place, and a little store had to do, as we nestled on the bench. We were there for lunch and the wine tasting was to inform what wine to choose to go with our lunch. So we were not at all put off by the wine tasting experience. Looking at the Tasting Room today, I would say a replay is well over due. Their Tasting Room looks stunning.
Needless to say, after going through some of their wines, and I mean some not all, we decided on the Shiraz for lunch and I bought one bottle of the Shiraz and one bottle of the Nebukadnesar. I drank the Shiraz round about August 2015, before I kept decent tasting notes, so can’t tell you how it tasted to me, only that I liked it enough to buy a couple of bottles for lunch and one bottle to take home, and more importantly to blog about it. Hopefully I will share about the Nebukadnesar once I open it!
This brings me to the long and drawn out point. What makes you pick up a wine and try it, if all you have to go on is what is before your eyes? With me, Babylonstoren had the advantage of me being captured in the web of their beautiful estate. My first job after graduation was with what was then Africa’s largest packaging company. What I took away with me in terms of the value of packaging and how it enhances the consumer experience is something I don’t take for granted. When I first came across this bottle of Shiraz, my eyes were not sold, and my curiosity to try it not invoked. So given the association I had made of the brand, my expectations and being there with nothing to lose, I tried it.
It was the first time I came across a wine bottle where the team chose to print on the bottle, rather than the traditional label that is stuck on the bottle. It looked so ordinary. It did not reflect where I had positioned Babylonstoren to be. It is a risky move for Babylonstoren, but safe in that I think when you pick up their bottle, you are likely to be familiar with the brand. I struggled with the bottle visually, but I did not have any trouble whatsoever with the taste of the Shiraz. Strangely enough the Chenin Blanc did not leave me with the same tension of senses. Babylonstoren is really exploiting the “never judge a book by its cover mindset”.
I think the vintage was a 2013 and it was enjoyable in 2015. I should have bought at least two bottle as I think today it would have been even better. I will have to ‘settle’ for the Nebukadnesar, but as I said this is a good reason to go back to the estate and buy some more.