This was, for me, the best tasting I have ever been to in terms of organisation, setting and variety of wine styles. Set in the grandeur of the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square London there were paintings and woodwork carvings to remind you of South Africa's history. The room in which the tasting took place was spacious, light and quiet with no crowding around the spittoons or the tables that besets so may tastings these days.
It was of course the wines that took centre stage and I loved the organisation of them and the manageable number to taste, 153 in total. They were organised by style but this was by comparing South Africa's regionality with classic wine styles from around the world. This was the purpose of the tasting, to show to us tasters how the country's variety and diversity means it can produce wines of all styles to match those from around the world.
What particularly worked for me was the comparison with different styles of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. This produced my "stand out" white wine of the tasting which was the Kleine Zalze Family Reserve from the western Cape. My detailed tasting notes are on Adegga but the wine very successfully combined the pungency of Kiwi sauvignon blanc with some SA sophistication. The Lands End SB from Elim was also especially good with some lovely complex notes to it.
I was also impressed with the chardonnays with the Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay from Walker Bay standing up very well I thought to good white burgundy.
For the reds the 100% cabernet sauvignon Klein Constantia 2008 had as its style reference Margaret River in Australia. As the winemaker's notes said this could stand comparison because of its "ripeness, freshness and elegance" and I heartily agree.
I did not bother with the sparkling wines as I'm a lover of SA sparkling wines. I served them at my daughter's wedding last September and I wrote about the Kaapse Vonkel brut 2008 in the book "Every wine tells a story". Why pay so much for good champagne when you can have an extraordinary sparkling wine for £10?
A great tasting.