Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Woolworths "Let's Get Bubbly" event at Villiera

Woolworths works very closely with excellent Cape vineyards to make special selections of wine available to Woolworths' customers. We often buy them; these special selections often win major wine awards and are top quality. The wines were to be tasted in Riedel glasses. So we were very keen to taste some of these at a function arranged at Villiera, who produce many great MCCs for Woolworths. John had a wine tour that he was booked for months ago, so Lynne took advantage of the transport Woolworths arranged, and took her camera along
A warm welcome from Cathy Brewer CWM (née Grier) and her husband Julian, who imports wine. She heads the sales, marketing and export divisions of Villiera. The winemaking is done by Jeff Grier CWM and his cousin Simon Grier is the viticulturist. Besides the Stellenbosch Farm, they also have a farm in the Roussillon region in the South of France, Domaine Grier.
We started in the wine cellar with two Villiera bubblies which are sold in Woolworths, the Light Brut MCC (only 9% alcohol) and Lynne's choice, the Domaine Grier made from Macabeo, a white grape grown on either side of the Pyrenees and in Rioja. This is the first bubbly made from that grape in France, so they created a new category. It is clean, crisp and complex, yeasty on the nose, with notes of raspberry and limes on the palate, with a fine mousse and some slight chalky French terroir. R179.95 in Woolworths. We drank out of the new style tulip shaped glasses which do show more flavour and character to sparkling wines
Winemaker Jeff Grier
Alan Mullins, CWM, wine buyer and consultant to Woolworths since 1990, is a recognised authority on Champagne, MCC and sparkling wine. He is also a wine judge in many competitions
Cheese platters were put out to prepare us for the tasting to follow
Riedel glasses for the tasting. Four champagne glasses in front and behind them, L to R, a Sauvignon Blanc glass, a Chardonnay glass, a red Shiraz glass and a stemless red wine glass  We did mix and match the wines in the different glasses and there is a marked difference in the wines if they are tasted in a glass not especially designed for that particular wine
Opposite Christian Eedes of is Raphael Graugnard from Domaine Grier. We began the tasting with the Woolworths 2012 Villiera Brut Natural (R134.95). It is 100% Chardonnay, so Blanc de Blanc. It is bready , yeasty, leesy on the nose with toast and cooked fruit - that's the age showing - and has a great crisp mousse and is lovely and bone dry, No dosage added and no sulphur either. Second in the flight was Woolworths 2010 Vintage Reserve Brut (R159.95) . Woolworths gets involved at the dosage and age levels of the wine. This has a lovely nose nutty, leesy, buttery brioche and long clean flavours of limes, lemons and some chalk. There is red fruit but in the background. It is the same wine as the first, but this has a dosage added
Jeff Grier telling us about the wines . Next was the Woolworths Brut, the biggest seller and available in small 'splits' of 375 ml (R69.95), full size (R94.95) and in 1.5 litre magnums (R189.95). Made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinotage. Bready on the nose with a crisp mousse, slightly sweeter than the previous wines but still dry, perfume of lilies and roses on the palate with crisp citrus acidity and good fruit. Then, a challenge. Apparently all the top French marques are adding a demi-sec (semi sweet - only up to 33 g/l sugar allowed) bubbly to their repertoire because of demand. That demand is growing in South Africa too. We can't say we enjoy them a lot, but we keep an open mind. This wine is a case in point as to why we should. Bready brioche with dusty raspberries and pears on the nose, then lovely pure raspberry juice with a good mousse on the palate. No sticky oversweet syrup. A lovely introduction for wine novices and it was absolutely perfect accompaniment for the soft, rich chocolate cake dessert that was to follow the tasting
The four Villiera MCCs
Time to learn to taste in Riedel glass with Tarryn Vincent of Reciprocal Trading. We started with the extraordinary Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc by David Nieuwoudt at Cederberg Private Cellars. A classic expression of how green a Sauvignon Blanc can be: Pyrazines, green leaves, green peppers, elderflowers, some spice, this wine gives so much. It is full, then crisp, then floral on the palate, lean and mean with long green and fig flavours. We love it and the style. (R149.95).The glass highlighted all those aromas and flavours. Then, in its special Chardonnay glass made for oaked wines, Hartenberg's lightly oaked Chardonnay (R99.95). Wood whiffs, butter limes and nuts on the nose, a silky texture on the palate with lots of oak, butter, limes, chalk and marmalade with the dark wood end. So rich and asking for rich food. In the first glass, it had only smoke and was a light chardonnay with less in every way
A representative had joined us from Riedel in Austria, who told us more about the different ranges of Riedel glasses. We then tasted the Saronsberg Shiraz, 'Life is Fine" (R129.95) from a poem by Langston-Hughes which ends "Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!" We can see this label selling lots of wine. And it will be worth buying. It's a rich and big nose-ful of fruit, spice, red cherries, umami notes with cream. It has silky sweet fruit, spicy, peppery with lots of fruit layers with chalky grippy tannins.. Then the Delaire Graff Cabernet Merlot (R129.95) wood hints, Cassis berries and leaves, violet perfume, vegetal forest floor and white pepper on the end. Rich red fruit, pure cassis, a lovely, lovely display of this wine. In the Shiraz glass, more wood showed, less fruit, more tannins and chalk. Still all right but not as superb as in the correct glass.
Rebecca Constable of Woolworths buying team with Julian Brewer
The wine and lunch menu
Time for lunch. which was small bites paired and served with the MCCs and also another six Woolworths wines. Of special note were the Cherry glazed duck steamed buns with Miso dressing - Lynne managed to get another, they were delicious...
and the tiny Chocolate cake, with the Demi-Sec MCC
These were the other two desserts, both jellies:
The line up of lunch wines
The line up of the Woolworths Villiera MCCs
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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