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A Journey through the South African Safari of Wine

August 20, 2013


Since this will be my first blog about a specific bottle of wine, I felt it was appropriate to start with one of the wines I represent. Like I stated earlier I do work for a wine distributor in New York and this wine is one of the wines I do sell.

Before I began working as a wine distributor I worked as a manager of a wine shop here in New York, and this wine was one of my favorites in the shop. I never had a bad bottle and every time I recommended it, my customers always came back and told me how much they enjoyed it.

I don’t label myself an expert on wine nor do I claim to be a wine snob. I am just another guy who really enjoys a nice glass of wine and seeing and tasting all the complexities and characteristics of wine from different parts of the world.

When people think of Africa, one of their first thoughts is the African Safari and all the wild animals roaming the plains. Well there is another safari in South Africa and in this open plains you will find wine grapes growing plentiful. All different varietals that one never thought could grow there and some, like Pinotage, that is grown almost exclusively in South Africa and thrives tremendously on the weather there. Well the wine I will be reviewing today is not a Pinotage, rather it is a classic Bordeaux blend that is grown in South Africa.

The name of the wine is Uqamata, a 2009 vintage from the Polkadraai Hills in Stellenbosch South Africa. The varietals of this wine are as follows 40% Cabernet Franc (for the people that know me Cabernet Franc is my favorite grape) 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot. This blend, not percentages, of grapes (plus Malbec) are the traditional varietals made and used in Bordeaux.

The winemaker, Carmen Stevens, is the first black female winemaker from South Africa. Her story is very inspirational, she grew up not knowing how to read or write, but learned in a wine cellar while working at a winery. Once she was able to go to college in South Africa, she was denied three times before finally being allowed to attend. After graduating she came to California and studied and worked at a few wineries and learned more hands on techniques in winemaking. Once she moved back to South Africa and started producing her wines, you could not find her wines I South Africa because they are bought by the world market so quickly. Right now she works at the Amani Vineyards in Stellenbosch.

Now here is a little technical facts about the wine (if you are not interested you can scroll down to my tasting notes):

– 14.5% abv

– the vineyard is between 115 and 155 meters above sea level
– the soil is primarily Fernwood and Longlands, basically sand

Aging: (yes just like humans wine do age)
– the wine ages for 12 months in French oak barrels, which 35% of the barrels are new
– after that the wine is blended together (each varietal is aged in separate barrels for 12 months) and let age for an additional 4 months

Tasting Notes: (it’s such a hard job to try wine and take notes on it and explain it…. Just kidding)
– it has a dark crimson color, reminiscent of dark ripe cherries.
– on the nose I got earth, dirt, old leather, tobacco, vegetal, oak, with a delicate touch of cassis a d dark fruit (of course get a good swirl and stick your nose in the glass and sniff away)
On the palate:
– on the front I got the herbaceous qualities along with the earth, or as I like to call it funk, this is due to the fact that Cabernet Franc has that funky quality
– the mid palate is where the wine opens up and you start to feel and taste the subtle complexity, the rich dark fruit, the cassis, blackberry, and dark ripe cherries.
– the finish is long and the tannins are very well subdued.

In my opinion this wine would be and will be a perfect pairing for any healthy meaty meal you are making. It can go with anything from steak to lamb to even turkey. I think this wine can be a great go to wine for any wine lover who wants to expand their collection, or even anyone who wants a great bottle of red wine for dinner.

Like I always say wine should always compliment food and accentuate the flavor of the food you are eating. Choose wisely and spend a little time deciding what will go good with dinner, if you are unsure always ask the wine consultant at your wine store.

Also please feel free to comment and leave suggestions of different wines, so that way I can try and comment on them throughout the course of my blog.

From → Wine

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