Blue Cove Wine from South Africa: Extreme Value

Blue Cove is a new label of high value wines being produced in South Africa for the mass market in that country and elsewhere. Thanks to Michael Bampfield-Duggan of Wine Concepts, I had the opportunity to taste the full portfolio of these wines during my recent stay in Cape Town. These wines are also exported to the UK and US.

The appropriate moniker for Blue Cove wines might be extreme value. The wines are cleanly and simply made from Robertson area fruit so the varietal character shines through. However, costs are also kept low, so that the final product is pleasant, yet extremely accessible. Prices in South Africa are 35 Rand (about US $4) for the regular bottlings, which makes these about the lowest cost varietal wines one can find on the marketplace. US prices are somewhat higher but still excellent value.

In my opinion, two of these wines merit special attention on the basis of quality alone. Both the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and the 2007 Merlot are very flavorful wines that could sell for a much higher price. They are wines that will complement, rather than compete with, food. As our family budgets continue to shrink, these become very attractive alternatives.

The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is a mild-flavored wine that is seemingly a blend of New Zealand pungent gooseberry and Sancere minerality. The results is a wine that is pleasant served as a well-chilled aperitif or taken with subtly flavored seafood. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is a very attractive wine with quince and minerals on the nose and a full-flavored, somewhat grassy palate with good acidity. The 2008 Chenin Blanc shows good acidity and a touch of the banana skin that often accompanies cold fermentation. The palate is flavorful with white peach and green apricot notes. The medium-straw colored 2007 Viognier has attractive aromas of sea shells and daisies with a palate of winter melon that finishes chalky and very dry. The 2007 Merlot is exceptionally attractive at this price point, with aromas of tobacco and blueberry and flavors of blue and red fruit and tobacco. The finish is very pleasant and very long. This is a real crowd pleaser that would make a great party (or wedding) wine. The medium ruby 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon shows aromas of pepper, mulberry, licorice, and Bovril with a medium weight palate showing modest fruit accented by vanilla and almond. Not a classic Cabernet but pleasant nonetheless. The medium dark ruby 2008 Shiraz has aromas of oak and vanilla and plenty of oak, and blackberry fruit, on the palate.

These are wines of exceptional quality for the price. They are not the wines you would not necessarily serve to your pretentious neighbor with his 4,000 bottle cellar full of complicated, world famous wines. But you would serve them to your other neighbors, your co-workers, and, perhaps, even your mother-in-law.

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