What I Drank Last Night
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Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Woolworths Limited Release Spectrum 2008

Shows a wide range of flavour.

Shows a wide range of flavour.

Spectrum 2008 was made by Callie Louw during his brief stint at Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards and drinking it yesterday I can see why Marc Kent was so keen to poach him away to work on the Porcelain Mountain project in the Swartland.

Bottled exclusively for retail chain Woolworths, this wine was rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2010. It’s a blend of 62% Chenin Blanc, 14% Chardonnay, 9% Grenache Blanc, 8% Roussane and 7% Viognier. Cellar treatment was oxidative, the components fermented separately in a combination of 600-litre, old-oak barrels and Nomblot cement “eggs”. No cultured yeasts were used and fermentation was very slow (up to six weeks). Malolactic fermentation was allowed and the wine was left on the lees without sulphur additions. After one year, the wine was racked and blended.

Not exactly mainstream stuff and I recall Woolworths wine selector Allan Mullins telling me it was a slow mover despite its high rating in Platter’s (original selling price: R125 a bottle). According to the back label, the emphasis in making it was on “texture, tertiary flavours and palate weight” but what impressed me about it was rather its relative fruitiness and freshness, this as opposed to many other local wines in a similar style that are so rich and concentrated that they end up being difficult to drink in any great quantity. The other notable feature of Spectrum 2008 was its finish, long and savoury to the point of saline, which I found simultaneously curious and appealing.  Overall, rather delicious.

Comments

  1. Fable 2010 is also a 5-star and (especially compared to final knock-down price for the Woolworths – I think I picked up a few bottles of the 2009 Spectrum for R19.99) significantly more expensive.

    I found the Fable wine to be brilliant – lighter than the TMVs and ready to drink immediately. Still have some 2008s and 2009s of the Woolworths. I’m thinking next year autumn the 2008s should show best and autumn 2014 for the 2009s.
    What do other drinkers on this site think?

  2. I had this wine tonight and in my humble opinion this wine deserved its 5 star rating. 

  3. … And now R35 at woolworths rosebank. What does that mean?

    Also with craig hawkins experiments, where does the execution of this style measure up?

  4. al forno says:

    Hi, thanks for the info. we actually picked it up for R65 in JHB … which poses at least 1 further question ….

  5. Christian says:

    This wine currently selling for R69.99 (down from original price of R125) at the Cavendish Square branch of Woolworths. Which poses a whole bunch of questions…

  6. Christian says:

    Hi Al, Eben Sadie’s Palladius is probably the most prominent example of a Chenin-led blend made in an oxidative manner and there are an increasing number of other wines in this idiom, although of varying quality. Leading critic Michael Fridjhon recently came up with the memorable observation that oxidation is “a step away from necrophilia” and I think in many instances, he’s right. What I liked about the TMV wine was precisely that it still had some life in it.

  7. al forno says:

    thanks for the recommendation – I tried this wine last night. it certainly was interesting and unusual and a fairly enjoyable drop. however, in my view, a fairly random collection of varietals merged to create an unusual blend is surely not worthy of a 5 star rating ? on what basis is such a rating being given – clearly there is little or no comparable wine and no guidance on what would constitute a good blend of these varietals – other than “balanced”, “fruity”, “good structure”, etc. I suspect the slow sales are illustrative that the wine buying public (or at least those in this premium price category) are no longer blindly following the platter ratings and/or are demanding something a bit more authentic if being asked to spend a decent amount of cash.

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