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On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

The Wines of Boekenhoutskloof w/ Marc Kent

22 Jan 2020

(October 2019) ... Marc Kent, Managing Partner & Technical Director of Boekenhoutskloof, addressed a small group of writers and sommeliers to introduce (or re-introduce) them to the wines of Boekenhoutskloof, a winery with a long name, a short history and yet wines you’ve most certainly seen on shelves (of the LCBO and other places), but may not immediately have had any indication that they came from this 7 million bottle (across all their properties) production house.

Marc welcomed us all by saying he loves when “like-minded people get together” to share wine, “we might never get rich, but we’ll have a god time being poor.”

We travelled through a range of South African wine appellations and introduced ourselves to the newest ( 2 years old ) : Cape Town appellation – the others are relatively known to oenophiles, Stellenbosch, Swartland and the tiniest of them Franschhoek (which makes up only 1% of national plantings).  Boeken Cabernets

Here is a list of the wines I tried that impressed – 15 were poured, 11 were scored and full reviews can be linked through to by clicking on the wine name:

Vinologist 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Town … (*** ½)
Porcupine Ridge 2019 Chenin Blanc, Swartland … (*** ½+)
Patina 2017 Chenin Blanc, Swartland … (*** ½)
Porcupine Ridge 2018 Syrah, Swartland … (*** ½)
Patina 2017 Syrah, Swartland … (*** ½)
Boekenhoutskloof 2017 The Chocolate Block, Swartland … (*** ½+)
Boekenhoutskloof 2015 Syrah, Swartland … (****)
Vinologist 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Swartland … (*** ½)
Boekenhoutskloof 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch … (**** ½)
Boekenhoutskloof 2015 Semillon, Franschhoek … (*** ½)
Boekenhoutskloof 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Franschhoek … (****)


Two Guys Talking Wine : Two Thumbs Up - December 2019

03 Dec 2019

This month we launch our very first "Two Thumbs Up", an homage to film reviewers Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, where we simplify the wine reviewing process to a couple of thumbs, or in some cases just one single thumb up, as a way of scoring wines ... you can listen to the accompanying podcast here - or read the notes below:

2018 Henry of Pelham Bin 106 Baco Noir - $29.95
THUMBS UP - André - I am firmly in the category of Baco Noir skeptic - that being said the Speck brothers know what they are doing. This delivers rich mexican vanilla caressing juicy blue fruit - a must have for Baco lovers, and lovers of Ontario Wine at large.
THUMBS UP - Michael - I’m even more skeptical than you are when it comes to Baco and I hate to encourage this grape being made into wine; that said I agree that the Speck boys do have a handle on it, it’s the other 90% of the stuff being made in Ontario that shouldn’t be.

2017 Thirty Bench Red - $24.95
THUMBS DOWN - A - There is nothing really wrong with this wine - but for twenty five dollars from Ontario, in this style, I was expecting more. Given that I have better places to put my twenty five bucks from Ontario I am going to do just that.
THUMBS UP - M - Wow, Mr. Curmudgeon, this is one of the better and more approachable Thirty Bench Reds that has come out in quite some time, and it will age for a number of years to come, I think anyone who buys it now will be even happier they did in 2025.

2017 Featherstone Joy Brut Rosé - $29.95
THUMBS UP - A - I am a big fan of Pinot Noir sparkling made traditional method with a short time on lees - it manages to preserve the freshness of the red fruit and mates it with the zippy acid you expect from a great bottle of sparkling.
THUMBS UP - M - But just barely, I know you’re a fan of this wine, as I am, but they have made such stellar version in the past that I find this one just passable, but not up to the calibre it has been.

2017 Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay - $44.95
THUMBS UP - A - I first tasted this in July of 2018 - I have been fortunate enough to revisit this every few months since that first glimpse - the wine is drinking great right now but it’s exciting to see Le Clos Jordanne is back and this is only the beginning.
THUMBS DOWN - M - Not enough to give it a failing grade on my website but I was not as thrilled with this version as you are, but then again we all know for you if it says Chardonnay you are all over it … this just lacked the kind of finesse I expect for a $45 Chardonnay - it might come around but it’s not there yet.

2015 Hinterland Les Etoiles - $43.00
THUMBS UP - A - by far the most approachable Les Etoiles made to date - but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to guzzle any bottle you can get your hands on, thanks to a short crop there are very few of these bottles available.
THUMBS UP - M - Jonas sure knows what he is doing with his bubbly program and he never fails to impress with what he puts in the bottle - and while this one is more pricey than the Featherstone in comparison it delivers when compared to past versions of the wine.

Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs NV - $29.95
THUMBS UP - M - My thumb could not shoot up fast enough when we tasted this, easily one of the most under-rated bubbly in the province, and don’t let Cave Spring know it’s also under-priced, especially with your Champagne comparison … you’re not going to get any argument from me there, I just want to make sure I get a few bottles into my cellar before our review makes it sell out.
THUMBS UP - A - STOP TELLING WINERIES WHEN THEIR GOODS ARE UNDERPRICED - while it may be true - I don’t want the people at the winery to get any ideas, especially given that the quality in this bottle pushes into entry level Champagne quality easily.

2016 Louis M Martini Napa Cabernet Sauvignon - $39.95
THUMBS UP - M - What’s that word you keep using, “sessionable”, hell this Cali-Cab has all the ear-marks of that: juicy, red fruit, currants, black cherry, hints of vanilla - focused and well-balanced; I was impressed.
THUMBS UP - A - Sessionable is a great way to describe this wine - and given that I have been known to grab the odd bottle pushing north of fifty dollars I end up feeling guilty when I realize how quickly the wine disappears. I realize this is asking a lot for a mid week sipper - but if you want to see what the fuss is all about in Napa but haven’t wanted to make the investment in more expensive bottles start here.

2017 Ferox Rosé - $24.80
THUMBS UP - A - Bright confected fruit, and there is a bit of spritz to boot - this is easy drinking and a bit of bottled summer for the cold months to come.
THUMBS DOWN - M - Once again your love of Rosee gets in the way of reason, confected is a good word here, and the effervescent threw me off, sure it has some strawberry and floral notes and has a pretty pink grapefruit finish, but that fizz is a killer for me because I’m not sure it’s not a fault.


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