In honor of Ali & Andy's recent vacation to South Africa, we had a repeat of the May 2006 tasting -- a cross section of wines, rather than a single varietal or type. This round was clearly a step up compared to the poor results from last time, and while we didn't love all the wines, there was consensus that some had some postives to offer.

The best showing wines were the bracing Sauvignon Blanc from a classic producer in Constantia, and a structured Shiraz from Swartland. Both were excellent vaues.

Andy tried very hard with his Pinotage entry, but our palates uniformly rejected it, citing the unfortunate feral qualities that we couldn't get past.

No points were awarded this time due to the change in format.

Photos this month by Diana.

Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Bayten 2015 (Constantia). Tasters found scents of cut grass, river rock and lemon rind, with some minerality. David felt that is was "bright, but a little bit funky." Very gooseberry in the mouth, finishing long and very tart, with a hint of feet, seaweed, and salt. Relatively rich mouthfeel. David detected "a little bit of that cat pee to it", and Andy felt this was very representative of what Sauvgnon Blanc from South Africa has to offer. Tasty. Ali's bottle.  About $16

Raats Chenin Blanc Old Vine 2012 (Stellenbosch). Oily on the nose, with nostions of diapers, rubber glove, and lanolin, plus a hint of red apples and dusty. Some minerality here, along with bacon and iodine. Ali detected, "dried out lemon cleanser", while Matt was reminded of "pear turnover." Dry, with an oily texture. Cinnamon or nutmeg on short finish. A bit unfocused, Ali described it as "like a cloudy day". Greatly improved with food, however. Diana's bottle. About $22.

Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2012 (Elgin). Fecal nose, plus notions of rubber glove and aged gouda cheese. Ali detected "rotting cherries in the South African sun." Funky, but not too offputting. Lots of smokey bacon and vegetal notes in the mouth, like tomato skin and carrot peel. A little thin. Matt found a "daring sourness on the finish" and was "just on the edge of a bad territory." Diana found "popsicle stick soaked in citric acid, woody but super sour." Texture is a bit off, and is out of balance, with too much acidity without the fruit and heft. Kristin felt that "it's the kind of finish that makes me want to take another sip right away." Much improved with air, and very food friendly. Matt's bottle. About $19.

Pieter Cruythoff Pinotage Middelpos 2013 (Swartland). Aromas reminiscent of pine, maple syrup, hay, licorice, and canded apple. Andy felt that "it's like a feral wine", and Ali just decided on "garbage." Matt found "a little smoke and then a rambunctuousness", while Diana determined it was "sickly floral." Ali declared that "I don't want to smell it anymore." Tannic and salty in the mouth, with flavors of cloves, honey, herbs, pomegranates, apple cider, and spices. Andy felt that it "tastes like a cheese", with Matt describing a "silty mouthfeel." Diana felt that "it just doesn't taste like something that should be, I'm suspicious." Matt found "dark roast coffee that's become flabby", with Kristin noting "port that's started to turn." Andy chimed in with "grape popsicle" and Ali finished with "red delicious apple with the skin on the finish". Diana decided that "if you had a really boring day, you can open up a Pinotage." Andy's bottle. About $25.

Fram Shiraz 2015 (Swartland). After the Pintoage, Diana was happy that this bottle was "so refreshingly normal", and that "we've been on this great adventure and now we can sleep in our own bed." Smells French. Scents of salt marsh, vegetation, sea air, seaweed, cherries, and brown sugar. More subtle. Andy noted that "it's like we were just in Hong Kong and now we're in Vermont", with Ali deciding on "Hawaiian Punch in the can." Diana was remidned of "driftwood and beach house." Tasted like a dark, Old World Syrah, with nice texture to go with flavors of charcoal, cocoa powder, raspberries, vanilla, smoke, plums, and bacon. Structured, dark and brooding. Some heat and dried herbs on the finish. Kristin's bottle. About $17.

Spice Route Chakalaka 2013 (Swartland). Made from 50% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 13% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignan, 8% Grenache, and 6% Tannat. Sandalwood on the nose, plus hot pine needles, cinnamon, dill, cloves, beef blood, and overripe strawberries. Diana detected "a little formaldehyde", and "bed sheets that need to be washed." Nice texture. Diana described a "delayed saliva burst", and felt it was "salty in a bloody way", like "the wine that vampires drink." Interesting, though Kristin really didn't like it. Matt found "warming spice, like graham crackers", while Andy felt it was "too generic". Finishes tart. David's bottle. About $20.

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