Idiom Wines with Roberto Bottega – by Tom Brown

Last Monday saw the Idiom wine tasting event at our city branch in Leadenhall, hosted by family member and producer Roberto Bottega. For those not familiar with this offering, Idiom are one of South Africa’s most recently celebrated and award-winning winemakers. Their wines have won top awards at the latest Decanter trade magazine competition and this was a wonderful opportunity to sample the wines and meet the man who knows them best.

To begin the evening we started by comparing the 2009 and 2011 viognier. Two contrasting styles meant a leap from a broader richer fruit to a lighter zestier and younger version showing the typical viognier characteristics of peach and apricot.

Then moving swiftly onto the reds, in both the sangiovese and zinfandel, we discovered the sangiovese showed a wild fruit very reminiscent of those from Italy, but richer and softer, while the zinfandel beguiled the party of attendees with its savoury aromatics of fresh rosemary and mint with a rounded rich black fruit on the palate and a wonderful freshness and length to finish.

With barely enough time to savour the deliciously rare and succulent sirloin steak prepared by the butchers of Leadenhall located directly opposite, we moved seamlessly onto Roberto’s latest offering of barbera and nebbiolo. Both reflected Roberto’s passion for all things Italian, in keeping with his Italian family roots. Each wine showed the unmistakable traits of their Mediterranean origin; cherry and liquorice, tobacco and lozenge, the Barbera unique with its freshness, a personal favourite of Roberto’s.

Onwards and upwards to the prestige blends of the house, the standard bearers of the firm and the wines winning accolades both here and at home. First came the Bordeaux Blend, firm but supple enough to allow the rich plum merlot fruit to come to the fore, while the Cape Blend, replacing the merlot with pinotage, that notoriously unpredictable grape, filled the palate more broadly splitting opinions as ever between the guests.

And then came the surprise, an unreleased pinot noir, two in fact, a 2010 and 2012, first to try being the oldest. An interesting offering, these are both experimental bottlings trying to pin down the elusive qualities of the earthy yet ethereal grape of Burgundy. The 2010 showed signs of maturation, maybe a hint of rubber, while the 2012 positively sang with poised fruit, perfect extraction and vibrant freshness, this will be an interesting one to watch, if it ever graces our shelves here at Amathus.

With a further offering of ribeye steak from our friends and neighbours the butchers at Leadenhall the evening came to a close. A good time was had by all. Lastly, came the vote for everyone’s favourite wine which threw up the usual conflictions and good humoured debate. All in all this was an enlightening evening hosted warmly and personably, we look forward to more of the same.

The wines are available in store and online for you to enjoy!

By Tom Brown,
Amathus City

Introducing South Africa’s Finest Wines: Idiom & Whalehaven by Matt Smith

An idiom, or an expression with a figurative meaning; this is the aim of Roberto Bottega and his family when producing his award winning wines. By creating wines that capture the true meaning of the landscape, the culture and the heritage of the surrounding area, Idiom wines are gaining a reputation around the world for being some of the finest South Africa wines.

The winery, situated in Da Capo overlooking False Bay in Stellenbosch, was created as a retirement project by Roberto’s father, Alberto. Soon it became a project that would involve the whole family, with Roberto soon helping take the reigns as head winemaker. The philosophy behind the wines was to originally create a Bordeaux blend that would rival the great Bordeaux estates. As the winery evolved, they also began to pay tribute to their South African and Italian heritage by planting Pinotage and Italian grapes such Sangiovese. The wines have recently won Decanter’s best South African red wine in 2010.

Also on tasting was Bottega’s other project Whalehaven in Hermanus. Named after the region in which the vineyards are situated, Southern Right Whales gather in the local bay to breed and is known to be one of the best whale watching areas in the world! The winery was taken over whilst the Idiom vineyards were planted and the reputation is growing for producing single varietal wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinotage. The vineyard also produces a range of whites, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, to complete a diverse and rich line-up.

Roberto introduced the Whalehaven range first, explaining the methods behind each of the wines; followed after was the three wines from Idiom.

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Whalehaven Sauvignon Blanc
Tropical fruit nose with a hint of minerality. In the mouth, melon flavours with green notes of passion fruit punch that is supported with a rich acidity. A perfect beach wine.

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc
A lifted perfumed nose with a hint of liquorish. A lighter style of Cabernet Franc that deliveries a rich raspberry punch and lightly toasted oak in the mouth.

Whalehaven Merlot
Plummy, smoky with a slight hint of bramble on the nose. A sweet tobacco and cherry mouth that is supported by supple tannins and a warming length.

Whalehaven Pinotage
Dark cherries with a cigar box nose. Rich plum fruit and light blackberries in the mouth. The boldest of the three reds that would well fantastically well with steak or other red meats.

Idiom Viognier
The grapes are picked three times in the growing season (early – middle – late) to achieve a complex wine. Apricots with a hint of buttercup and perfume on the nose. On the mouth, a creamy texture which delivers ripe apples that develops into apricots. A truly magnificent wine!

Idiom Cape Blend
Smokey, liquorish with sour cherries and cedar on the nose. Blackberry, cherry and dried red fruits that open up with a lush, velvety tannin. A cigar box finish with a long length.

Idiom Bordeaux Blend
The flagship of the winery. Aromatic dark cherries with a layer of lush concentrated raspberry. On the palette, velvety smooth tannins that evolve into flavours of blackcurrant, oak, spice and a hint of dark chocolate. Absolutely stunning!

 

By Matt Smith, Amathus Soho