We are delighted to have Gad Kaplan as our guest blogger this month on the Horse’s Mouth. And we’re delighted to hear he thinks Excelsior Paddock Shiraz is ‘a big find’!
Gad is a well known wine writer and critic who has contributed to the Cape Times, the Mail & Guardian, wine.co.za, Grape, American Express, Equinox and Leadership magazine.
For most of my wine drinking career I focused on expensive wines. This was not out of snobbery but the desire to taste experience and learn about the great, famous and rare wines of the world. I tried to drink as much imported wines as possible. The great Bordeaux’s, Burgundies, Champagnes, Loire wines and the sweet Sauternes of France. I also drank top end Californian, Australian and New Zealand wines. In South Africa I focused on the premium end of the market.
Although my focus is still on premium wines my attention has shifted more and more to what are known as value wines. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, as the great British wine writer Hugh Johnson once wrote “There are no great wines in this world, only great bottles of wine.” What he means is that each bottle of wine is unique. You can open a bottle of famous, expensive wine and if it is in poor condition or overrated then you are drinking a big disappointment. He also means that any wine, whatever its providence, has the potential to be a lovely wine.
One wine that will always stick in my mind was a simple Chenin Blanc that cost R40 rand that I drank in a small village in the Klein Karoo. You could virtually not buy food in this village and I bought the wine from a guest house that had the wine made especially for it. It was in a desert area and it was very hot. The Chenin Blanc had a lovely full, palate and beautiful simple bouquet. For all these reasons this wine will always remain in my memories!
Secondly, you cannot drink premium wines everyday. It’s not just the cost factor. There are very few people who can afford to drink premium wines on a daily basis. But more than that it is boring to keep drinking only premium wines. You have to have wines for every day drinking. And value wines give you just that. Every day drinking wines. Value wines contribute to the diversity and full range of the drinking experience. If you combine the consumption of premium wines with value wines you end up with the prefect wine drinking experience.
Value wines should be by definition inexpensive. It sounds a lot but (in my opinion) in today’s South African equation any wine that costs under a R100 rand a bottle qualifies for the category of a value wine. A value wine gives one value as it offers quality at a low cost. It should have a pleasant enjoyable palate that is reasonably complex and a full fragrant bouquet. Basically it should be tasty and a good drink. At the same time it should retain a certain individuality. So many of the value (or should I say in this case budget wines) imported oversees lack any identity.
There are so many quality value wines on the market that obviously one can only write about a few in one article. One of these is Beyerskloof’s Pinotage Rose Brut. With lovely strawberry fruit and fragrances it is such a nice alternative to the more expensive sparkling wines on offer. A big find for me was Excelsior’s Paddock Shiraz. There is so much talk in SA of Shiraz as the big red hope and so many are disappointing. The Paddock Shiraz has a meaty and complex palate with plumy and spicy aromas. The screw cap keeps the wine nice and fresh. It is really a beautiful wine to drink.
By Gad Kaplan initially published in Winewisdom.