Edinburgh-based retailer Great Grog has been around for quite some time now, started by ex-Oddbins manager Richard Meadows and trading from a warehouse and shop in the city, as well as online. Richard has an affinity with South African wines, including a small range called ‘Handmade’ that he originally travelled to South Africa to help put together with the team at Kaapzicht wines, and which are still a reliable and good value fixture of their wine list. I recently tasted a few releases from the range and from Lemberg, an estate in the Tulbagh region.
(2020) Made for Great Grog by Danie Steytler of the Kaapzicht winery, this comes from very old bush vines in Stellenbosch, reputedly almost 100 years old. It's a ripe and leesy, rich style, but with excellent freshness too. Aromas are quite tropical and exotic, but there's a thrust of fresh apple and fresh-squeezed lemon on the palate, giving it a zesty, lip-tingling finish. Very nice to drink on its own or with fish and shellfish.
(2020) Made for Great Grog by the Kaapzicht winery, this is a pungent and vivacious style of Sauvignon Blanc, with plenty of green pepper and grassy aromatics, but the fruit to balance. In the mouth it seems quite rich in texture despite its lowly 12.5% alcohol, and the blast of tropical-tinged through the mid-palate is nicely gathered up and extended by the briney and very effective acidity of the finish. Actually very stylish.
(2020) The Pinotage component of this wine was strikingly obvious to me on tasting, but in fact the blend is 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Pinotage, with the remaining 26% made up of Cinsaut, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Shiraz. It sees a little oak. Blackcurrant, brambles and lots of fruit on the nose, a touch of leather and yes, a little touch of the 'rubbery' character of Pinotage, but crucially not too much, actually adding additional interest here. In the mouth sweet and slick black fruit, a nicely rustic grip of tannin to give savoury appeal and very good balance too in an easy-drinking and enjoyable red, perfect for pizza, chilli con carne or lasgne.
(2020) A blend of Syrah (78%) and Grenache, all of the colour coming from the latter which had a couple of hours skin contact. Lovely pale Provençal colour, there's lots of stony, schisty mineral character on the nose as well as tight, firm small red berries like redcurrants and raspberry. The palate brims with fruit, still focused on those small, tart red berries, but there is ripe fruit sweetness to set against the firm acidity, lemon and grapefruit combining in the dry, satisfying finish.
(2020) Naturally fermented with wild yeasts in a gently oxidative style, this blend of 50% Viognier, 29% Hárslevelu, 13% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Semillon is aged on the lees in 500-litre French oak for just four months. It's a lovely, gossamer-light style, the oak adding little more than a sheet of almond over pristine, nutty orchard fruit, melon skins and lemon rind. Good sweetness and juiciness comes through on the palate, with plenty of fruit, but there's that lighter, clear, balanced and fresh acidity, and the natural ferment dry and nutty/herby character. Along with its medium body, that gives this an airy quality too. Watch the video
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