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Riana van der Merwe: Young Winemaker in a Young Region

Overberg is one of the regions in South Africa to show the most promise for pinot noir cultivation. And even though the finicky, yet highly-sought-after variety generates the most excitement throughout the area, other cool climate grapes such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and syrah have displayed world class abilities. Riana van der Merwe intends to share these grapes’ qualities with the rest of the world.
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Palate Press Wine of the Week: NV Graham Beck Brut Cap Classique

Clear, bright, medium straw yellow. Fine bubbles cascade up the glass. The nose is clean with medium intensity aromas of lemon, chalk, biscuit, cooked yellow apple, and yellow cherries. This is a dry wine with a full mousse, and large fleeting bubbles on the palate. It has medium-high acidity, medium body, medium alcohol (11.5%) and flavors of bright citrus, grapefruit, lemon, and green apple. The finish is long and creamy, and leaves a taste of salted caramel in the mouth. A good wine, especially for the suggested retail price. Pair with a salad with fresh fruit, grilled white peaches, roasted sole, or white chocolate truffles with black sea salt.
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2007 Café Culture Pinotage

An odd, almost clashing nose of smoky bacon and blackberries, but not a lot of fruit there. At first comes across light on the palate with flabby tannins. It almost yells at you, “not home, come back later.” And you will be rewarded if you do. The flavors open up, with more expressive dark berry and nutmeg flavors. Still a bit short on the finish, but all in all, a pretty fair wine for the price. Went well with a BLT (which was admittedly the only thing I had around the house at the moment).
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2009 Indaba Shiraz

The nose is very jammy, but I wonder if there is some Pinotage in the mix. There is a hint of burnt rubber typical for South African Pinotage. The flavors on the palate are candied cherrry, loam, and burnt rubber. Palate feel is relatively smooth, but a lingering aftertaste of artificial cherry candy means this wine cannot be recommended.
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2007 Waboomsrivier Pinotage – Western Cape

I don't generally enjoy Pinotage, and this is very good wine. The typical Pinotage burnt rubber is nowhere to be found. Instead, it is a very nice glass of sweet toasty black fruit. Wood is obvious but not overwhelming. Instead, it adds a light background of sweet wood-burned maple to plums, boysenberry, and blueberry. This is a good food wine, too, for the sweet wood and fruit are balanced by acids that will happily complement well-marbled beef. Drink this with a big Ribeye and some creamed spinach.