South Africa: Nosing around Cape Town

By John ~ February 13th, 2009.

20090213_thenose1LaGayle and I are currently in South Africa visiting the major winelands of the Western Cape and tasting as many of their wines as we can that are available in the United States. On our first full day in Cape Town, after taking one of those Hop-On Hop-Off city tours, we walked up to the Cape Quarter area to find The Nose Restaurant & Wine Bar, a recommendation from noted South African wine writer Neil Pendock, who was kind enough to correspond with me prior to this trip and give me a heads-up on some “must-visit” places and wineries. We wanted to sample a couple of flights of South African whites and reds to get a little orientation to the wines before visiting the wine farms. Out of the six whites and six reds of different varietals that we tasted, nothing really knocked our socks off, but most were decent wines with the reds overall better than the whites.

After making our tasting notes and rating the wines, we ordered dinner. The food was very good and the prices were even better. For twelve generous wine samples, one steak dinner, one prawn dinner, and a bottle of water, the total tab including tip was $41 USD. Following dinner, we walked the kilometer back to our room and spent the rest of the evening sampling the wines we bought earlier in the day at Vaughan Johnson’s Wine Shop, another recommendation from Neil. We thought both of these wines, the 2006 De Toren Fusion V and the 2008 Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc, were better than any of the twelve we had at The Nose.

20090213_thenose2Because 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 breakdown of the wines that we tasted on our first day in Cape Town:

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2006 De Toren Fusion V, R285, QPR: 4 [Wine Library (New Jersey), $33.99]

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2008 Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc R80, QPR: NC
2006 Belfield Cab/Merlot, R140, QPR: NC
2006 Jordan Merlot, R200, QPR: NC
2002 David Frost Cabernet Sauvignon, R212, QPR: NC
2006 Metzer Syrah, R248, QPR: NC

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Kleine Zalze Gamay Noir, R80, QPR: NC
2007 Sterhuis Chenin Blanc, R140, QPR: NC
2008 Babylon’s Peak Viognier, R168, QPR: NC
2007 Chamonix Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, R208, QPR: NC

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Laibach Ladybird White, R144, QPR: NR
2007 Diemersal Reserve Chardonnay, R208, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2005 Cloof “The Ink Spot” Cape Blend, R120, QPR: NR
2008 Iona Sauvignon Blanc, R188, QPR: NR

Our next stop on the South African wine trail will be in the Constantia Valley, a suburb of Cape Town. Stay tuned!

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Lesser Known Varietals, Merlot, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, South African Wine, Viognier, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. David Jacobs | November 7th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Where can we find fleur du cup Special Late Harvest

  2. John | November 7th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    The closest to what you asked about that I’m familiar with is Bergkelder Chenin Blanc Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest wine.Depending on where you are located, one of the wine shops for that wine listed on is probably your best source.