MEIKLES Hotel launched their new wine list recently at a sampling in the Can-Can Bar to which local food and wine writers, leading wine trade personali
ties and diplomats were invited.
Wines from the Cape were selected at the group’s Cape Grace outlet by Meikles Africa Hotel chief executive officer, Roy Meiring and commercial director Glenn Stutchbury, with advice from Bunny Landon, one of Zimbabwe’s leading wine experts and teachers. She runs the Cape Wine Academy courses.
Some wines are exclusive to Meikles Hotel and the five star Victoria Falls Hotel. Geoff and Kim Goss, of Glen Lorne Cellars, helped source some of the imported wines. Local labels are from Cairns, African Distillers and David Simleit.
Guests were greeted with a bubbling elegant tulip glass of Eikendal Brut NV, a dryish carbonated sparkling wine I found highly drinkable and recommend for special occasions. It sells at Meikles at $3,1million a bottle. It is a Sauvignon-Blanc/Chardonnay blend with fresh lawn grass whiffs and a zesty finish. Other “champagne” types available (quotation marks, because — of course — real champagne comes only from France) are Chamonix Brut 2000 or Swartland Brut, both $2 million and the local rather sweet Mukuyu Sante Doux at $900 000.
Excelsior Estate Chardonnay, 2005, from Robertson, proved a stylish white wine with a creamy finish at $2,8 million while 2005 Shepherd’s Creek Chardonnay was $100 000 less. Mukuyu’s Fighill Chardonnay (2004) from Marondera is $600 000.
From Groenekloof in the Cape, Flamingo Bay’s Sauvignon-Blanc/Chenin Blanc blend offers a delightful medley of tropical fruit tastes at $1,75 million; Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc is $3 million. Local white wines are sadly no longer as affordable as was once the case. The new David Simleit Sauvignon-Blanc-Chenin-Blanc blend is $1,45 million, Mukuyu Bin 16 $1,25 million and Meadows’ L’Etoile $750 000.
Nothing to do with a misplaced sense of patriotism, but I actually prefer the local Mukuyu Symphony Rosé at $1 million, with traditionally slightly sweet fragrances, to the Flamingo Bay Lagoon Rosé, a Cinsault-Chenin-Blanc-Pinotage blend described with supreme accuracy as not over sweet. The imported wine costs $1,72 million. I suspect most bottles of rosés are ordered to please females in the party and in my experience they prefer them at least slightly sweet. The comparative dryness of the Flamingo Bay Rosé came as almost a shock to the palate. The taste might grow on you, but I doubt whether many will drink it in sufficient quantities to allow that to happen.
South African wine makers seem to be gradually edging away from those extremely challenging to the non-bilingual wynplaas names, with a confusing assortment of consonants, which seem to go on for ever. Klawer Vynkelder Wonkelwyn (not stocked by Meikles) is a dreadful sparkling “champagne” type from arid Namaqualand and tastes as bad as it sounds. Vergelegen sounds like a chronic throat complaint when I say it, but one of the last two years’ judges in the Restaurant of the Year competition, made it purr like something you’d get 15 years for dreaming about. She came from South-West Africa (now Namibia) and spoke equally fluently German, Afrikaans and Herero, long before she even heard the English language in which she wrote her law degree.
Shiraz is one of her favourite red wines. It goes magnificently well with curries or other robust spicy foods. The Darling Cellars’ Black Granite Shiraz (2002), also from Groenekloof, was a fine example: big, broad, beefy, bold begging to be bought at $3,6 million. Darling Cellars Six-Tonner (I gather they harvest six-tonnes of grapes per hectare there; it would be extremely interesting — and I expect disappointing — to learn what weight the “new farmers” re-settled on our wine estates pick!) was also $3,6 million; Landskrool Cabernet-Sauvignon $4 million. Local reds include the Mukuyu Pinotage at $1 million and Private Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, $600 000. Not all the hotel’s 31 available wines were tasted. Several are available by carafe or glass in Meikles, restaurants, banqueting rooms and