Blind tastings have a habit of humbling the most prodigious of wine tasters, and so it proved in WineToShare’s fun and illuminating wine event that put three South African Bordeaux blends to the test against two of France’s revered Bordeaux Grand Crus.
In the red corner for South Africa was De Toren Fusion 5 2016, Eikendal Classique 2015 and Meerlust Rubicon 2015. In the opposing red corner there was Chateau Branaire Ducru, St Julien Grand Cru 2013 and Chateau Chauvin, St Emilion Grand Cru 2014. The average price of the three South African Bordeaux blends was S$63, and the average price of the two French Bordeaux’s was S$99, a full 58% more in price.
All five wines were tasted blind by ten budding wine enthusiasts over cheese and biscuits. Each taster was asked to rate the wines out of 100, and at the end of the tasting each taster’s top rated wine was awarded three points, the second favourite two points and the third favourite one point.
The results surprised the tasters, not least because they were sure that some of the South African wines were French and vice versa, but more poignantly the top three wines were all South Africans. The total scores were as follows:
1st Place (20 points)
2nd Place (14 points)
3rd Place (11 points)
4th Place (9 points)
5th Place (3 points)
De Toren Fusion V 2016
Eikendal Classique 2015
Meerlust Rubicon 2015
Chateau Chauvin, St Emilion Grand Cru 2014
Chateau Branaire Ducru, St Julien Grand Cru 2013
De Toren Fusion 5 2016 emerged as the clear winner despite being the youngest wine in the tasting. Four of the ten tasters chose it as their favourite wine, with three more selecting it as their second favourite wine of the night. Tasting notes of the Fusion 5 revealed an appreciation of a truly pure and complex flavour, with aromas of black cherry, cedar and dark berries. “Soft as spun silk with unfolding layers of flavour”, read one tasting note.
A clear second favourite was the little known Eikendal Classique 2015. This was the last of the wines to be tasted on the night, as it was the boldest, and it was the burst of flavour profiles that seems to have been the draw card for its popularity. This relative newcomer to the Stellenbosch wine scene, having opened its doors in 1981, is creating some high quality wine from its small 76 hectare estate on the slopes of Helderberg Mountain. At S$58 it was also the cheapest wine on the night.
In a close race for third place the well-known and highly respected Meerlust Rubicon 2015 which inched ahead of the French right bank Chateau Chavin. Meerlust themselves have said that 2015 was one of the best vintages they have produced in recent years, and that this vintage in particular will benefit greatly from further cellaring.
WineToShare Founder, Cherie Ball, said after the event: “It’s obviously thrilling for three SA wines to be voted ahead of two respected French makers, and I feel it validates what we have been saying for many years; that South Africa offers some truly exceptional wines at significantly cheaper prices than their European competitors.”
De Toren Fusion 5 2016, Eikendal Classique 2015 and Meerlust Rubicon 2015 are all available online at winetoshare.com