South Africa: A Day in the Paarl Region

By John ~ February 20th, 2009.

20090220_fairviewOn our first day in the Cape Winelands, we were making good time to our morning appointment until we discovered that our exit in Paarl was closed due to road construction. Because we had never been to this area it took us about thirty minutes to circle around and get us back on track to Fairview Winery, our first stop of the day where we had an appointment at 10am.

When we arrived at Fairview, we were greeted by Chris Bryant, Fairview’s communications director, who gave us a brief tour and then introduced us to Charles Back, the owner, who was kind enough to spend two hours with us answering questions for a video interview (which we will include in a future post), taking us on a tour of the vineyards including his home that has a beautiful view of the vineyards and mountains, and giving us a personal tasting of a wide range of their wines.

20090220_charlesbackIn the course of our conversations at Fairview we learned that the first production of wines on this wine farm was in 1699. Charles’ grandfather bought Fairview in 1937, and Charles has been in charge since the 1990’s. Fairview produces about 230,000 cases per year, of which 80 percent is exported. And 30 percent of their total production goes to the United States.

Most wine consumers in the United States probably know Fairview because of their famous Goats do Roam value label, but there’s a lot more to Fairview than goats. Overall the wines we tasted at Fairview were very good, but we were especially impressed with their Semillon, Petite Sirah, Chakalaka Blend, and La Beryl Rouge.

20090220_glencarlouOur other stop of the day was at Glen Carlou, a Hess Collection winery, which has both a beautiful tasting room and an impressive art collection. We tasted eight wines at Glen Carlou, and our favorite was the Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon.

Please remember from my previous posts on South African wines that because we are buying wines here at South African prices based on the rand (R), we decided that it would be misleading and of little value to our core constituency of readers in the U.S. to calculate a QPR rating unless it is a wine we can buy in the U.S. and is of good enough quality to want to buy. Therefore, for the purposes of the wine reviews on this trip, I will only calculate a QPR rating on a wine which I have given a Quality rating of 4 stars (out of 5) or higher and if I can find a U.S. vendor and price on which to base the QPR calculation. Wines that meet these criteria will be set apart from the others by bold type. Otherwise I’ll denote the QPR as Not Calculated (NC) if the Quality rating is 3 stars or higher or Not Recommended (NR) if the Quality rating is less than 3 stars.

Here’s a complete listing of the wines we tasted in Paarl:

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2007 Spice Route (Fairview) Chakalaka, R90, QPR: 5 [Southern Hemisphere Wine Center (California), $19.99]
2006 Glen Carlou Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon, R300, QPR: 5 [Southern Hemisphere Wine Center (California), $44.99 for 2004 vintage]
2006 Fairview La Beryl Rouge, R90, QPR: 4 [Southern Hemisphere Wine Center (California), $33.99 for 2005 vintage]
2007 Fairview Semillon, R90, QPR: 3 [Southern Hemisphere Wine Center (California), $24.99 for 2006 vintage]
2007 Fairview Petite Sirah, R80, QPR: NC

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Goats do Roam Rose, R35, QPR: NC
2008 Fairview Darling Chenin Blanc, R42, QPR: NC
2007 Fairview Syrah, R60, QPR: NC
2008 Fairview Viognier, R70, QPR: NC
2006 Glen Carlou Cabernet Sauvignon, R85, QPR: NC
2007 Fairview Caldera GSM, R90, QPR: NC
2007 Fairview Primo Pinotage, R100, QPR: NC
2005 Glen Carlou Grand Classique, R110, QPR: NC
2006 Glen Carlou Syrah, R130, QPR: NC

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Fairview Riesling, R45, QPR: NC
2008 Spice Route (Fairview) Sauvignon Blanc, R48, QPR: NC
2008 Fairview Chardonnay, R58, QPR: NC
2007 Fairview Mourvedre, R60, QPR: NC
2008 Glen Carlou Sauvignon Blanc, R65, QPR: NC
2007 Glen Carlou Chardonnay, R85, QPR: NC
2005 Glen Carlou Zinfandel, R150, QPR: NC

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2008 Glen Carlou Pinot Noir, R150, QPR: NR

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Lesser Known Varietals, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Riesling, Rose Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz/Syrah, South African Wine, Viognier, White Wine, Wine Travel, Zinfandel

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