Ultimate taste-off: SA vs France

How does SA compare with the very best of France – the home of the most revered wines in the world and often used as the benchmark for most SA winemaking? Here is a write-up of a private tasting that compared some of the finest wines from each country. Many styles and varieties could have been chosen, but I decided on wines with good track records and varieties that traditionally work well in each country. Each of the important regions in France were highlighted, except for Alsace and Champagne where SA would perhaps not have fared as well. The wines were tasted blind by 18 tasters and in each pair votes were tallied for a favourite and an overall winner.

Flight 1
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011 (R147)
Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec 2011 (R295)

A terrific match-up! Both are made from old-vine Chenin; the Huet from mostly 50-year-old vines and the Beaumont from 30-year-old vines, and older. Both are made in an elegant, fresh style without malolactic fermentation or heavy barrique influence. The Beaumont does see 400l oak fermentation, which gives it a slightly wider feel on the palate. Hope Marguerite has a tremendous track record with a string of Platter five stars; it is probably the most lauded Chenin from SA made in a classical style. Le Haut-Lieu is renowned for being the most fragrant and fruity of the three Huet vineyards. Typically steely and mineral from tuffeau limestone, it showed well but didn’t have the complexity and mouthfeel of the Hope Marguerite. An interesting exercise would be to compare the two wines in a decade’s time.
Winner – SA
Written by Roland Peens at the Wine Cellar
To view the full article visit http://winecellarplus.co.za/2013/03/01/ultimate-taste-off-sa-vs-france/