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Seven New QPR Wines from South Africa and Australia

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We’ve tasted through seven well-priced wines from the southern hemisphere in the last few weeks, all of which offer good value. Four of these are from South Africa, and the other two come from Australia; all are imported to the US by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham AL. We started with four from MAN Vintners, a solid South African operation whose wines we’ve enjoyed previously. MAN Vintners is a collaboration between Charles Back of Fairview, Goats Do Roam and Spice Route; José Conde, owner/winemaker of Stark-Condé Wines in Stellenbosch and Tyrrel Myburgh, of the Myburgh family that owns and operates Joostenberg Wines. I got a chuckle from their explanation of their collective name; the wines speak for themselves.

2010 MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc (Steen) Wine of Origin Coastal Region, 13.5% alc., $9.99-10.99 SRP: Clean, pale color; green apple, Thompson Seedless and mineral flavors and aromas. Ripe, but not really sweet; medium-bodied, with good acids and a lingering finish. Minerality adds enough interest to make this more than just another insipid fruity white, and if it’s otherwise not too complex, what’s here is quite pleasant. Fruit sourced 100% Perdeberg area in Paarl. Fermented in stainless steel, spending 3 1/2 months on the lees. Find this wine

2009 MAN Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Wine of Origin Coastal Region, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 14% alc., $9.99-10.99 SRP: Clean, dark color, with black currant and a hint of tobacco on the nose; bright, ripe, yet earthy blackberry flavors with creamy overtones. Medium-full-to-full-bodied, with moderate structure to hold for a few years, but this is an easygoing quaffer for current consumption, and it performs well in that regard. Fruit sourced 99% Perdeberg area in Paarl, 1% Stellenbosch. Fermented in stainless steel, 21% matured in 225 liter American oak barrels, 25% new. Find this wine

2009 MAN Vintners Pinotage Wine of Origin Coastal Region, 87% Pinotage, 12% Shiraz, 1% Viognier, 14% alc., $9.99-10.99 SRP: Deep, dark color, with earthy black plum flavors and aromas shaded with a little tar in the background. Smoothly textured, full-bodied and structured for a few years in the cellar. Fairly ripe, but not over the top; not terribly complex, but neither is it the stink bomb that some routinely accuse Pinotage of being, and perfectly enjoyable for what it is. Fruit sourced 100% Perdeberg area in Paarl. Fermented in stainless steel, 15% matured in 225 liter American oak barrels, 15% new. Find this wine

2009 MAN Vintners Shiraz Wine of Origin Coastal Region, 99% Shiraz, 1% Viognier, 14% alc., $9.99-10.99 SRP: Clean dark color, with just a bit of charred oak on the nose that carries over onto the palate, where a solid core of dark plum and berry takes over, underscored with some subtle earth. The full-bodied fruit is neither over- nor under-ripe, shows very good intensity, and while it’s structured for a few years in the cellar, this is already drinking quite well. Food-friendly (went well with burgers and fried cauliflower) and a Shiraz that I can really enjoy at this price; it’s the best of these four nice efforts from MAN Vintners for my tastes. Sourced from several premium, un-irrigated vineyards in the Agter-Paarl area; Shiraz co-fermented with a small portion of Viognier to lift aromatics and soften tannins. Just before dryness, pressed and returned to tank for malolactic fermentation. 36% matured in 225 liter American oak barrels (8% new) for 12 months; fined and filtered before bottling. Find this wine

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Until now, we’ve only tried reds from Boekenhoutskloof, and those have generally displayed more oak than we care for, sometimes quite excessively so. The following selection is the first white we’ve tried from this producer.

2008 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap White, 40% Viognier, 39% Chenin Blanc, 21% Grenache Blanc, 13.74% alc., $9.99-10.99 SRP: Pale gold color, and giving very little on the nose at first; Kim describes it as “fleshy and grapey,” and for me, it almost comes off as a South African “Conundrum,” just not as sweet or as well-oaked. Peach and apricot flavors and aromas are ripe, but not excessively so, and while the oak is apparent, it’s not overdone, though it does tend to show more as it opens and warms in the glass. Medium-bodied, with good acids and length. Not my preferred fare, but not a bad wine by any means. If only it had an element of minerality. Chenin and Grenache barrel aged for 13 months in French oak. Find this wine

We’ve tried a few wines from Len Evans’ value priced Bulletin Place brand in the past, but these two are the first that we’ve had occasion to report on.

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2009 Bulletin Place Chardonnay South Eastern Australia, 13.5% alc., $9.99 SRP: Clean, medium color; Kim rightly describes a steely character to the apple, pineapple and tropical fruit flavors and aromas. Medium-full-bodied, with good acids and intensity. Straightforward, unpretentious and quite enjoyable. Made 100% from grapes grown in the Riverina Region of New South Wales. Following harvest, the free-run only was fermented very cold, using natural yeasts. Post fermentation, a portion was left on lees in tank. Find this wine

2009 Bulletin Place Shiraz South Eastern Australia, 14% alc., $9.99 SRP: Clean, dark color; straightforward, unpretentious and serviceable. Earthy, not too ripe and rather peppery, with red and black plum and berry flavors and aromas. Full-bodied and balanced, with a few years worth of structure to it. A solid, if unexceptional Shiraz that offers good value for the money. According to the tech sheet, “The wine had some instave treatment. South Eastern Australia is a generic Geographic Indication descriptor encompassing all of the grape growing area of the states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. This Bulletin Place wine is a blend of Shiraz wine from The Riverina and Hilltops regions, both in southwestern New South Wales.” Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,

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