Darling Cellars – Chenin Blanc from South Africa

December 24, 2012

Darling Cellars 1

‘2012 Arum Fields Chenin BLanc Reserve’ by Darling Cellars

Ever since residing in Bangkok, Thailand I have learned to appreciate a grape variety which was not on my wanted list before: Chenin Blanc. Thai vineyards and wineries are producing some outstanding Chenin Blanc wines.

So when I had a chance to taste a South African version of it, I bought this bottle right away. The colour of the wine is golden. I was a bit surprised about the intense apple aromas I tasted with the first sip. The wines is soft but still crisp.

Darling Cellars 2

The tasting notes by Darling Cellars speak of guava flavours. The wine has 13% alcohol. The grapes come from non-irrigated vines. The wine makers are Abé Beukes and Welma Myburgh.

Darling Cellars 3

The vineyard is located in the Darling district in the Western Cape, which used to be a dairy area, about an hour from Cape Town. The mean annual rainfall of the region is 600 mm only (occurring from April to August). The mean temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

I will try this wine again. Next time with some food.

Darling Cellars
Mamre Weg Station, R315,
Darling 7345, South Africa
Phone:+27 22 492 2276

Merlot revival – Robertson Winery, South Africa

November 4, 2012

2010 Merlot by Robertson Winery

Recently I have been reading a lot about the revival and/or comeback of Merlot. I am not sure if this is real. It might be only applicable to California and not the “rest” of the wine world.

As a Merlot grape grower myself, I would welcome it if the variety would receive more attention again. But my own Merlot is very very fruity, full of cherry flavours which might put some wine drinkers off because it can be quite overpowering.

However that may be. Today I bought a bottle of ‘2010 Merlot’ by the Robertson Winery in South Africa. At 14% alcohol it was quite a big wine. Medium bodied and well balanced, it represented a perfect example of what Merlot can do.

The back label

The plum aromas went very well with the steak, we had it with. I was barbecuing on the terrace and the aged beef, just with some garlic gloves, some rosemary and salt and pepper, was juicy and tasteful. This was a good choice of wine though I did not know the winery, and just took my chances.

Beautiful piece of beef

Come and see me in Bangkok. I will cook for you.


SIP – My favourite wine bar in Bangkok

June 21, 2012

SIP Wine Bar and Tasting

Since a long time I want to write about my favourite “watering hole” in Bangkok. It is a small and unassuming place in Soi Ekamai, just a couple of meters from my office. I pass by there every day when walking to and from work.

It’s name is SIP Wine Bar and Tasting. Victor, the owner and manager is a great guy, passionate about wines and extremely knowledgeable. SIP offers value for money. So it is no wonder that tripadvisor gives it 4 1/2 stars out of five.

No space to hide

The other day when we were dropping in for a quite evening sip, we found ourselves in a large group of customers. The place was choker blocker full because the Bangkok Wine Club and about 30 of it’s members had flocked to SIP for their monthly get together.

Our wine

We met some interesting people and had some interesting conversations. The ‘2011 Yellowwood Tree Pinotage’ from the Western Cape in South Africa was a medium bodied wine with nice fruit aromas, a wine for easy drinking.

Victor has a good collection of wines from all over the world. Moreover, given the fact that wine prices in Thailand are astronomical (among other because of the high taxes), SIP offers value for money. You will not regret it. I suggest you check it out yourself.

SIP Wine Bar and Tasting
33/32 Sukhumvit Soi 63 Ekamai
Klongton-nua, Wattana,
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel.: +66-27142223
Mobile: +66-816998748
e-mail: victor2sipwinebar.com

Wine tasting at Lake House, Bangkok

March 30, 2010

Last Friday we went to a wine tasting at Lake House. Four wines were on offer, two came from California and two from South Africa. The Californian producer was Bliss Family Vineyards, which is a third generation family business in Mendocino County. The South African producer was Darling Cellars. Both producers are not small entities.

From each producer we tasted a Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc. I do not want to bore you with tasting notes. The clear “winner”, the wine I liked best, was the Merlot from Darling Cellar, a ‘2007 Six Tonner Merlot’. I did not like the wines from California. Both Sauvignon Blancs tasted very unusal but did not hold my attention for very long.

The atmosphere at the Lake House tasting was, as always, great. We met so many interesting people, from Argentina, India and the USA. Dan and Dan, two of three partners of the Lake House venture were also there and we had a good chat about life and the universe.

Anura Vineyards, South Africa

April 30, 2009


At the recent South African National Freedom Day celebrations in Bangkok, of course South African wine was offered to the guests. All wines came from Anura Vineyards. I had never heard of this winery. The logo on the bottles carries a frog in the oval picture, therefore I guessed that this might be the meaning of “Anura”, and so it should be as I found out later from the Anura website.

The vineyards cultivates about 120 ha of vines and uses about 800 tonnes of fruit annually for its premium blends. Tymen and jenny Bouma are the owner-operators of the estate. The vineyard is located in Klapmuts, about 50 km North-East of Cape Town.

I had the chance to taste the following wines:

– Anura Pinotage, very nice, round and smooth (Top 10, ABSA Pinotage Award 2008)
– Anura Sauvignon Blanc, takes time to get used to, but after that very unusual white (Best Value 2009, Wine Magazine Best Value Awards)
– Anura Merlot, loads of red and black fruit, a hint of chocolate, medium-bodied (2004 vintage won two gold medals at Veritas Awards 2007)
– Anura Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice medium-bodied Cabsav, earthly and fruity (2004 vintage won silver at Veritas Awards 2007)
– Anura Syrah/Mourvedre, very unusual blend for me, powerful combination, spicy (2005 vintage won bronze at Veritas Awards 2007).

I might have tasted some others but cannot recollect the rest. The evening was just too wonderful with the performance of the three singers called “Three tons of fun”. The Ambassador and his wife danced and so did we. I wish more national days would be celebrated the South African way.