Handcrafted wines offer more zing

Len Maseko Drinks on the House

Many boutique wines are not known on a wider scale and remain hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

They are often overshadowed by popular wine labels gobbled up by consumers with an insatiable appetite for renowned brands.

These handcrafted wines comparatively tend to offer way much more by way of finesse and mystique.

This is not to knock down mainstream brands; they still offer good quality wines.

But the message here is for one to go beyond the usual, which is what the annual Peech Boutique Hotel wine festival offered last weekend.

Nestling in Melrose, Johannesburg, The Peech Hotel has attracted the best South African wine estates to the event over the years.

This year it featured - among others - Ataraxia, Avondale, Bottega by Profumi D'Italia, Constantia Glen, Fram Wines, Glenelly, Montpellier, Oneiric, Springfield and Vergelegen.

This is a dream list for any wine festival. But one cellar which has caused waves at the show over the past few years is Oneiric, which boasts a splendid range of exquisite wines crafted by the talented winemaker Shan Pascall.

Her blend Quantum is one of the best wines I have tasted in recent years.

Her velvety textured Oneiric Merlot 2013 (R450) was easily the best on the house and the wine to look for if you are a merlot faithful.

Evidently Prosecco, the Italian bubbly that is gaining ground in SA, is quietly sneaking up on champagne.

SPEAK LIKE A PRO

Nutty is a term that is used most of the time when people are describing a variety of aromas and flavours which are associated with various nuts like almonds which are found mostly in brandy, sherry and some red wines.

An avalanche of the Italian variety of bubbly has dropped on our shores recently.

Many are attractively packaged and marketed by Bottega and Valdo, two of the leading brands of Prosecco, and have proved popular, especially as they are a less expensive alternative to Champs.

Still, the Prosecco labels were no match to Avondale bubbly, Armilla Blanc de Blanc Brut.

Other surprise finds were Ataraxia Chardonnay 2013, Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Springfield Chardonnay and Tierhoek Grenach Noir.

The Peech Hotel owner James Peech says the selection of wineries was motivated by his propensity to gravitate towards small wine producers, hence his wine list was characterised by boutique wines.

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