If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! The European travels have come to an end, and we certainly enjoyed the food, wine and beer that France, The Netherlands and Germany had to offer. I respect the Old World wines, but my love for The New World wines has not dwindled. There is plenty room for everyone in my world, so let’s get back to exploring South African wines. Old World wines are simply wines where wine making first originated, and South Africa is not part of that history. The Eagles’ Nest Verreaux was the wine bottle we opened 4 days before taking off on our trip. Have I got a story to tell you, so allow me to be a little bit longer than normal.
Typically, I choose the wines to blog about based on availability, as I don’t see the point of giving you a sense of an experience for which you have no opportunity to explore. Then again, Why walk around with chickens, when you can soar with the Eagles? That was my tweet, with an image of this bottle, before I had poured a glass for my partner in wine and myself. I was excited, as any child is when about to immerse in a new discovery. Other than being a South African wine, this bottle of 2009 Verreaux had all the traits of what I was going to be experiencing while on holiday. It was a wine I had never heard of before; I had no clue as to what the grapes were that were used to make the wine; the label of the wine bottle gave me no clue as to what to expect in terms of colour, nose, taste and flavours. How could I possibly not be excited by those prospects?
The bottle was a screw cap, as opposed to a cork. That would be frowned upon in France by the wine fraternity. One of the exciting things about winemakers in the New World is they are challenging the status quo. “Breaking the rules” so to speak, so long as it does not compromise the contents of the bottle and its quality. What still remains unknown for me, is whether screw caps can stand the test of time in aging over very long periods. Time will tell. Just don’t assume that all wines with a screw cap are cheap wines, or wines that lack complexity. The added advantage of a screw cap comes in to play when you take a wine bottle on a picnic…
Maybe it was the excitement, but I immediately poured on opening the wine. Instinctively, given the wine’s age, I would have poured it into a decanter first, but that didn’t happen. The shade of red in the colour was not what I expected, considering this wine was eight years old. You could see the brownish tints, but they were around a shade closer to purple than red. Purple shades of red wine talk to a very young wine, while red wine as it ages loses the intensity of its colour getting closer to brick red shades.
When I sniffed the wine, I was surprised by the acidity considering the colour and age. Chomba had a similar reaction to me, using the words “burns the nose”, which sent me into defensive mode. After all, I found the wine, it was a special offer and I wanted this experience to be our swan song before heading off to the wines of Europe. Add to that I had also paid a pretty penny for the wine. “I wouldn’t say it burns the nose” I protested. “Okay, sorry, burns my nose! I am having my tasting experience and it burns my nose” Chomba corrected, with sarcasm in full flight.
I was starting to have doubts. It was not only a disappointment in the wine, it was also a disappointment for not being able to WOW Chomba. I sipped the wine, as did she, and it wasn’t cutting or tart, but it was more acidic than I am comfortable with. “Let me decant it”, I piped up, as I could sense there was potential for a different result if I allowed the wine to breathe. There was no rush, supper was not yet ready and Jordan and Maya were making their BBQ Pork Ribs, following the Tim Noakes recipe in The Real Meal Revolution book. This also gave me time to now go on Google, and search more about this mysterious bottle named after what is also called The Black Eagle in Southern Africa.
My expectation was that the wine would have a Shiraz in it, and I had guessed it was a blend. I expected Shiraz because that is my favourite wine from Eagles’ Nest Vineyards and it’s their strength. The tannins were also elegant, and it made for a smooth finish when drinking, so it was not the typical style of South African red wine which I like to say ‘has presence’ in the mouth. The wine definitely had a full body, but it made for easy drinking, and got better with every sip. I was confident the decanting would make for a better result, as I sipped and searched. I would say it was a French style finish in that it is not as ‘descriptive’ as South African red wines typically are.
To my surprise, the wine did not have Shiraz in it. It was a Bordeaux Blend, with only the Malbec grape missing. As for the tasting after letting it breathe… The softness and ease of drinking was all that much more noticeable and enjoyable. The acidity was more to my liking now and I could pick up some berries on the nose. In the mouth, it was a medley of berry flavours. Think dark berry and you will get the picture. It was a HIT after all, and fantastic with the ribs. I will probably never taste it again, so if you get the chance, grab it with both hands. I love Eagles’ Nest wines. They are a boutique wine farm not only because of being small in the volumes they produce, but also their quality and ultra-premium wines they produce. If you are ever in the Constantia Valley, pop into their Tasting Room and try their wines. If you’re in Cape Town, you are only 15 kilometres away.