What I Drank Last Night
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Diemersdal Private Collection 2010 vs. Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2009

The same but different.

Two serious takes on the Bordeaux style red blend side by side, the Private Collection 2010 (R100 a bottle) from Diemersdal in Durbanville and the Boet Erasmus 2009 (R150) from Vrede en Lust on the Paarl side of the Simonsberg.

And lest the debate about how much pyrazine character to tolerate grows cold, the Private Collection defined by this compound, the Boet Erasmus not and all the better for it.

The Private Collection is a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec and spent 18 months in oak, 70% new. The Boet Erasmus meanwhile is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot  and 3% Malbec, the different components spending between 16 and 18 months in oak, 35% new. Both have an alcohol by volume of 14%.

The Private Collection’s cool climate origins were apparent with it being the more medium bodied and fresher (which is to say, possessing the more prominent acidity) of the two wines. In any event, I didn’t think it had the fruit weight to support the amount of new oak used, the wine displaying a milk chocolate character on nose and palate. Score: 15/20.

Intense black fruit, moderate acidity and firm tannins on the Boet Erasmus. Some will no doubt argue that it borders on being excessively rich and concentrated but I would contend it benefits from having been made from fruit closer to optimally ripe. Score: 16/20.

Comments

  1. Christian says:

    Hi Mike, We’re quickly into the realms of philosophy here. Can any wine as object be known in and of itself regardless of the prejudices that the individual taster brings to bear? No, but if wine appreciation as an activity across a community is to have some sort of meaning, then we have to assume some sort of common understanding. Always under negotiation, in flux, up for debate but more or less shared.

  2. “Wine descriptions are ultimately metaphor” – good point. But what if they weren’t? How about describing a Bordeaux blend by it’s components? One could simply state that “this blend tastes like a blend of Cab, Merlot and Malbec” – is that not sufficient description? In an ideal world where Cab always tastes like Cab – this should require no metaphor. But in reality Cab from different regions, terroirs and climates tastes different, ultimately becoming a localised descriptor of it’s own. Similarly, ‘milk chocolate’ comes in (I suppose) a myriad of variations depending on the region, the climate and the chocolate-maker’s personality. So – reverting to the opening quote – in choosing our metaphors, perhaps we have to be more specific in our descriptions. Up to a point – where the metaphors lose meaning and it all becomes meaningless.

  3. Christian says:

    Hi Rihann, Accepting that all wine descriptions are ultimately metaphor, “milk chocolate” aroma and flavour corresponds to a wine where the oak treatment has been substantial. “Candy floss” meanwhile is an aroma that I would expect on more medium bodied, fruit driven reds and doesn’t necessarily equate to high residual sugar. As to precisely how these aromas and flavours manifest themselves, I’d defer to a food chemist.

  4. Milk chocolate, interesting.  I’ve smelled it on wine before.  Why do you smell that?  Is it a bad thing?  What I am also smelling on a lot of red wines is a smell that I can describe as “candy floss” or like an “old fashioned candy store”.  Is it a presence of a lot of sugar and the absence of wood maturation?  I find it on a couple of “value for money” SA wines and also Australian and Chilean wines.

  5. Kwispedoor says:

    Very true, but almost all of them taste better when they’re older. Even the leaner, meaner ones – though they will never be truly good, of course. I haven’t tasted the 2010 DPC, but I do remember the 2006 as having noticeable pyrazine character. Which means I’m not even going near the two or three bottles I have of that in my cellar. I might pop the first one in two or three years’ time.

    To answer your question, I do think judging panels were more forgiving on this issue back then (which is both good and bad), but I remember the 2006 as being pretty good, while 2010 as a vintage is not exactly awe-inspiring. So it might well be that the 2006 was “better resolved” (guesswork, of course, until I taste the 2010). Perhaps a bit of both, then.

  6. The Diemersdal Private Collection 2006 famously rated 5 Stars in Wine magazine during 2009 and I do wonder how much pyrazine character that particular vintage had, i.e. were panels more forgiving of “green-ness” then or was that wine simply better resolved than the current 2010? Young or old, I think the problem with a high pyrazine character is that this very often appears on wines that are made to be “elegant” but actually are lean and mean. Pyrazines without any extra stuffing are simply not desirable.

  7. Kwispedoor says:

    I don’t think – in general – wines with noticeable pyrazines should be drunk when they’re young. They come into their own once they have matured. Of course, this doesn’t include wines made from unripe fruit from warmer areas, unbalanced wines, etc. I had a Woolworths Cape Point Vineyards Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (made by master Duncan before he got a bit scared of pyrazines) in a blind tasting this past Saturday. It was stunning. Scores from the tasters (very experienced, to practically novices): 18, 18, 17, 19, 16.5, 17.5, 17, 17, 18. 

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