A popular spot on the tourist trail and a definite must-visit for any local, Mama Africa (the restaurant not the singer) was the host of the WhiteStickSips tasting on the 16th Feb and this time we were joined by a couple members of the Under the Influence group, along with mysticopias and the Swede.
Given that one of our members, Harry Reginald is responsible for their wine list, it was a certainty that they would have a couple treats on their list whilst also catering to the “mass” market that is their bread and butter (this is a totally unsubstantiated guess on my behalf). And that, ladies and gentleman, was exactly what we were treated to; a good display of their wines to meet all requirements and refinements of palates: a couple of run-of-the-mill offers, one or two better wines (better scoring and better value imho) and a couple of treats that you won’t see on every wine list in the city.
Like the Westin Grand, Mama Africa decided to go with a flight of 4 whites, followed by a flight of 4 reds (disclaimer: Harry had nothing to do with the selection and despite knowing the wine list well he like us was in the dark as to what wines would be served). The whites started out with a little controversy when chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc were confused; the 1st wine being the KZ Chenin ’09 (14.5/20) and the 2nd the Warwick Professor Black ’08 (14.5/20). This, despite tasting notes such as fresh cut green grass on the sauv and guava/tropical fruits on the Chenin. I’m still not sure wtf happened… it was just more of a gut feel and that was clearly, very wrong. The 3rd white was definitely the value for money pick of the night – the Backsberg Chardonnay ’08 (16/20). A well-balanced wine although it falls slightly short on the finish; but at R120 it’s a bargain. The last wine of the flight created a little controversy amongst the group. A seriously oxidative nose brought about discussion as to whether it was faulty or whether that was the style of the wine. In the end it turned out to be a stylistic choice as the Lammershoek Roulette Blanc ’07 (17/20) was revealed.
The reds kicked off with a Hoopenburg Pinot Noir ’08 (15.5/20). An easy spot from the colour alone with strawberries and pencial shavings on the nose making it a dead giveaway. The herbaceous Hartenburg Merlot ’08 (15) followed, which came as a little surprise given that I am generally a fan of this wine and would have rated it higher when tasting at the estate. On that note, I generally find reds the harder to judge, particularly when double blind as their various flavour profiles can bear more resemblance than a Thai lady boy to the real deal (anyone who doubts that metaphor should check out National Lampoon’s Lost Reality whilst comparing a full-bodied fruity merlot to a herbaceous cab). Regardless, we go about this challenge in the hope of learning more, gaining experience and hopefully providing some useful insights and an independent view on what to drink the next time you visit the establishment. Which in the case of the reds we tasted, would be the 3rd wine, a Mooiplaas Cab. Sauv ’02 (16/20). Whilst showing its age and dominant varietal nicely, hints of spice on the palate had me thinking there may be a bit of shiraz in there. As it turns out I was mistaken but nevertheless this is fine example of an old world style cab that I would gladly drink again. The last wine of the evening was astoundingly dark, broody and complex. A powerful nose, albeit with some vegetative (cabbage patch) notes, a tight, spicy palate and a long finish with a good concentration of fruit throughout. It turned out to be the Sequillo ’06 (17.5/20) – certainly the best wine of the night and if you’ve got the dough to spare, then drop it on this baby. Note: if you’re going to drink it at home be sure to decant this baby to allow it to open up properly as its best years are still well in the future.
So that’s it for this installment. If you average out all those ratings (actually you don’t have to because I’ve done it for you) you’ll find my personal rating comes out as a 15.75, although it seems I was a little more generous than the rest of the group on this particular night (mine being the highest average score awarded – check out the WhiteStickSips site for more). Nonetheless I find this a very reflective score on what I thought to be a great tasting complete with wines to suit any drinker and budget.