Wine Review: Mr P Knows Pinot Noir

I confess. We bought the bottle because of the label. It was stylish and moderately funny (we giggled about the name. I know, childish). That is what caught our attention in the first place. Then there is of course the aspect that Pinot Noir is not that commonly grown in South Africa. We had something “professional” to place the purchase decision on. But yeah, it was the label. Successful marketing from IONA Vineyards, a family venture in Elgin, close to Cape Town.     Continue reading “Wine Review: Mr P Knows Pinot Noir”

A Taste of South Africa at Handford Wines (London)

Following yesterdays review on the Kloof Street Swartland Rouge, I thought it would be nice to write something about the shop where I bought it from, Handford Wines in London. It’s a nice little wine shop in South Kensington, with an interesting selection of wines from around the world.

I mainly ended up here on my way to the Sampler (review here). It’s a cute space with high shelves bulging with wine. I get this old library feel, but instead of books, there are bottles. If I am not mistaken the shop was once occupied by wine merchant La Vigneronne. It is a short walk from South Kensington tube on the slightly charmless Old Brompton Road.

The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and happy to chat about wine. I had the pleasure of trying some interesting Canadian (!) wine from the Niagara Falls region that they were sampling. You don’t run into Canadian wine that often here in Europe, and at least I was very unaware of this wine-region before driving through (from Toronto the Niagara Falls) on a holiday trip in 2010. The Niagara Escarpment (a ridge carved by ancient glaciers) has a good microclimate with fertile soil and adequate rainfall to support vine growing. Looking back to 2010, I remember the excitement when I realized how close I was to all these boutique wineries. However, my travel companion at that time could only be convinced to visit Wayne Gretzky Estates (Finnish men!). Well, that was better than nothing. The Canadian white wine I tasted at Handford Wines was perhaps too sweet for my taste but I am always very happy when invited to try something new. It also highlights the depth of the selection they carry.

What Handford is really great for is wines from South Africa. They are numerous and there is a nice selection from different regions. In addition to the Kloof Street we picked up a Pinot Noir from Cape South Coast (the name really appealed to M: Mr P Knows). There is also a very good selection of French wines and interesting stuff from Portugal and Spain. The prices are decent but the ‘cheaper’ bottles in general seem to be worse value than bottles of £15 and above.

If you are in the area (or searching for some South African or Canadian wine) I recommend popping by. This is perhaps not on my list of top-visits for London wine-shops, but that might change if I get hyped up about South Africa. Right now my focus is on Spain and Portugal (and Champagne), but you never know what’s next. I am insatiable when it comes to learning more about wine.

Wine Review: Kloof Street Swartland Rouge Vintage 2012

An interesting little number from Mullineux Family Wines, a small wine producer in the Swartland region of South Africa. They are based in the village of Riebeek Kasteel and their range of products include both red and white wines. The wines are generally hand-crafted and try to display the specifics of the terroirs of the Swartland Region. Kloof Street is one of their two ranges, the other one being Mullineux.

I was drawn to this specific wine mainly based on the interesting looking label. It stood out when I saw it in the shelf at Handford Wines and when I started looking at wine it peaked my interest enough to pick up a bottle to take home.

It is a typical Southern Rhone blend with 83% Syrah, 13% Cinsault and 4% Carignan. Interestingly enough subsequent vintages have much more varieties in the blend (the 2013 has Mourvedre and Grenache in addition the ones from 2012). The wine has been aged on French oak for 11 months with 13,5% alcohol content and 2,8 g/l of residual sugar. The grapes for the 2012 vintage comes from five vineyards, all in the Swartland region.

The color is dark ruby red so when seeing it I expected a much heavier wine. The nose is however fairly light but clear notes of raspberry, blackberry, violet, spice and also hints of chocolate and vanilla tones. The palate is full of red and black berries but with creaminess. There is a nice spiciness and herbal character to it as well and it lingers nicely in the mouth.

Looking at the quality it is a good wine but for me it does not reach the top class. It was however pleasant to sip with the nice piece of steak we had, but I could imagine it’s also fine on its own. Quality wise I would rate it a 3.5. We paid around £12 at Handford wines in London and that appears to be the going rate (Berry Bros charge something similar) and in that price range there are a lot of good wines. So while this is not at all bad I would rather spend that money on something else so the value for money rating would be 3.