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 As I type, my liver is processing wine. Some really good wine. Fortunately, my head isn’t doing the same, leading me to wonder if there may be some truth behind quality wine = no headache…? I hosted a small dinner party last night, and this is what we had the privilege of drinking:

  • Backsberg – 2009 Brut MCC
  • Iona – Viognier Limited Release 2011
  • La Motte – Millennium 1997
  • Cederberg – Cederberger 2008

I made a point of pouring last night, so that I could vigilantly control the amount poured into each person’s glass. There may or may not have been more in mine each time.   For some reason last night, I made a diligent point of taking photos and scribbling a few notes on each of these wines. Something I always trying to do when opening good wine, and generally followed by, “SHIT” when I walk into the kitchen the next morning and see the bottles in the bin.

Yesterday evening, I actually made these notes and even took to Twitter as well. I got so carried away during my La Motte tweet, that I included two different millennia in one posting. Ironic, I thought, given the name. Yes, ’07 and ’97 both appeared in my rambling. An error kindly pointed out to me by one Giovanni Ghignone, @G_Masta. Too late, too late, she cried in vain, and so I carried on drinking to ease my idiocy. Note: don’t take to social media when booze is flowing through your veins. You’re bound to make a mistake, or worse still, a spelling error. Incorrect spelling makes me break out in cold sweats.

And now, on to my review of these four wonderful wines.

Backsberg 2009 Brut


I was mightily enthusiastic on opening this, and I made sure I was alone in the kitchen when pouring. It was like liquid gold as it streamed into the flutes, the bubbles dancing as excitedly as I was. The mousse was fresh, zesty and full and as it dissipated, it revealed almondy, biscuity notes. It was dry, yeasty and delicious and I could happily have quaffed on this all evening. We had this with smoked snoek pâté and breadsticks – making for a most happy match. The only unhappy component being my face when the bottled had finished. Backsberg, your bubbles captured my heart. And liver. I will certainly be turning to you for more sparkle in the future.

Iona Viognier 2011


Viognier is my favourite white and has been since we met one another about three years ago. A varietal I was terribly unfamiliar with, and one that I now hold very dear. Not everyone gets it right, in fact I had a perfectly unpleasant example last week that saw me OD’ing on Sinutab, but when it’s right, boy is it right. And this one was. There was white marshmallow and butterscotch on the nose with whiffs of honeysuckle and I thought even some jasmine showed, too. It was rich and creamy with a subtle hint of white nectarine and a whole heap of elegance. I couldn’t get over how aromatic it was and how full it was on the palate. I was mightily pleased that the rest of the party had moved on to red leaving me to enjoy this bottle all on my own. I was even more pleased that I had hastily added this wine to my purchases the day I visited Iona. Proving that sometimes, the best wine-buying decisions are made when you’re inebriated.

La Motte ‘Millennium’ 1997


This red blend had Cabernet as the leading role, followed by Merlot and Cab Franc. A friend brought this wine to our dinner party. On the back of the label it says to be enjoyed with casseroles, and that happened to be exactly what was on our menu. We decanted this and set it aside for a good two hours before we touched it. It was a deep Burgundy colour and had a slight Sherry element on the nose. The fruit had faded quite substantially but this didn’t deter it from being a very special wine; I only wish I could have sampled it a few years ago, too. The tannins were only just still present yet there was a notable acidity holding it together. I picked up definite notes of scrummy Christmas spice. We had this alongside a chicken casserole that had been simmering gently for seven hours in the slow cooker. The sauce was tomato-based with lots of herbs. I served some bruschetta on the side topped with red pesto and Brie.  I felt the wine stood up surprisingly well to these different flavour components. What a privilege to have tried this vino.

Cederberg ‘Cederberger’ 2008


A few years ago I was at a wine and dinner evening called Meet the Winemaker, and at the end of the night when my card was drawn in the raffle, David Nieuwoudt presented me with this bottle of wine. It would have been fun to have had him at the table last night and heard what he had to say on it now.  The blend comprised of Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz.  I was in lust from first sip. On the nose there were lovely whiffs of eucalyptus, smoke, pink pepper, clove, mint and blackcurrant.  It seemed each swirl of the glass evoked a different aroma.  It had the faintest sweetness to it and owned a rich, full mouth-feel. Smooth tannins contributed to its structure, interwoven with stewed plums and cinnamon on the palate. It seemed only to get better as it opened up. Alongside this, I had bitter chocolate, cacao-dusted almonds, blueberries, raspberries and Boerenkaas on the table. By this stage, my food-baby and I practically needed a wheel chair to get to bed.  Well worth every morsel.

In the highly unlikely, possibly even shameful, event that you haven’t sampled the nectar of these fantastic wine farms, I urgently appeal to you to do so.  Be it a wine tasting and/or lunch (always the best option), they are well worth the time, money and taste experience.

http://www.backsberg.co.za (site currently under maintenance) / 021 875 5141

http://www.iona.co.za / 028 284 9678

http://www.la-motte.co.za / 021 876 8000

http://www.cederbergwine.com / 027 482 2827