TOGETHER with four amateur but enthusiastic tasters I lined up six of Spier's 2011-12 Savanha wines last week and put them through the 10-point sniff 'n sip test.
The selection comprised the colourful 2012 Savanha range of three whites (sav-blanc, chardonnay and chenin) and three reds (cab-sav, merlot and shiraz). Each varietal has a colour code of its own and a revamped solar motif to remind international buyers that it comes from sunny South Africa.
But our job was to assess the contents, so out came the cheese and biscuits, the water bottle and the spittoon and round one was under- way – maximum one for colour, three for nose and six for taste.
First up was the chardonnay. No wood and a surprisingly high-scorer given that one member of the team was an ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) club member.
"Surprise – enjoyed it," she noted after I reminded her that chard unoaked is a different proposition to chard heavy with wood. It received a 6,7 average rating (3-3½ stars) and was best of the whites.
The chenin scored 6,0 points (3 stars) and was described by the most trusted member of my team as "floral and light" which confirmed the winemaker's "fresh, fruity, quaffable".
Slightly less dry with 4,5g/l sugar and lightish 12,36% alcohol.
Sadly, given that our sav-blancs have been doing so well, this one, surprisingly bland, took the wooden spoon. One taster gave it two out of 10, another seven but the average of 4,4 or 2,2 stars was as generous as the panel could go.
And so to the reds, starting with the cab-sav. Lady judge number two gave it five points before retiring with the giggles, leaving four of us to complete the course.
The cabernet "sharp after taste, plummy, citrus, drink now" averaged out at a very creditable six points or three stars, but it was the merlot that was to take our gold.
Smooth was the most common comment along with "honey, blackcurrant and chai spices".
I gave it 3½ stars but it got 3,9 overall which would qualify as a four-star wine in Platter.
Let's see if they get it right.
The shiraz "metallic, black pepper" chalked up a just under 3 stars which, with the exception of the sav-blanc, makes all these wines great value at R28.90 from Prestons (R39.99 at Pick 'n Pay Summerstrand).
The sav-blanc has a R22.90 sticker price which confirms on this occasion that you are really getting what you pay for.