Even van der Merwe would love this one

Indaba Chardonnay 2008

Picture lifted from importer, since I wasn't going to get out the camera at the table, especially not on a date.  I did take some notes, though...

Picture lifted from importer, since I wasn't going to get out the camera at the table, especially not on a date. I did take some notes, though...

Appellation: South Africa
Grape: Chardonnay
ABV: 12.5%
Price Point: $17 in a restaurant, so probably $8-10 in the store.
Closure: Screwcap

Technical Notes: (from importer’s website) Partially aged in oak, “left on its {lees} for several months to develop further in complexity” More information can be found here (I love this!
EVERY WINERY SHOULD MAKE THIS INFORMATION AVAILABLE)

Hedonic Notes:
When you’re on a date and trying to impress your dining companion, you might think twice about ordering the cheapest wine on the menu. When you’ve been with your date for over 8 years, it’s not really as much of an issue. Anyway, perhaps subconsciously inspired by my recent viewing of District 9, I thought I’d check out the bargain basement this time with this ZA Chardonnay. Chardonnay is tricky ordering from a menu, particularly because its style is largely at the whim of the winemaker, ranging from acidic, zippy, un-oaked styles (a style that I tend to prefer) to full {malolactic fermentation}, rich, oaky styles. So it’s really somewhat of a crapshoot if you don’t know the producer.

At first, this wine has got nice pineapple and crisp pear on the nose. I really appreciated the medium-bodied {mouthfeel}, and the acidity was refreshing (note, I had this before I knew it was aged on the {lees}). I took the bottle out of the provided chiller (nice, but unnecessary) and after a little while, the oak started showing through with vanilla highlights. Not too much, though, subtle and enjoyable. It’s balanced and easy-drinking with a long finish that waxes a bit lemon meringue.

Rating: corkcorkcorkhalfcork for great QPR, even in a restaurant setting.


Another endearing characteristic of Indaba is found on the label. Again, from the importer’s website:

“Indaba” is the Zulu word for “a meeting of the minds,” or a traditional gathering of tribal leaders for a sharing of ideas. The brand was created as a celebration of the democratization process in South Africa, and from its inception, the wines have conveyed the spirit of South Africa to American consumers. A portion of the proceeds from the Indaba wines supports a scholarship for formerly disenfranchised South Africans who are interested in wine-related careers. Through growth of the brand and via the affiliated scholarship, Indaba is proud to be a part of the positive changes that are altering the face of South Africa’s wine industry

The state of the modern South African wine industry is interesting. Since the end of apartheid, winemaking has become empowering for many South Africans, so there’s something to feel good about supporting the study of enology and viticulture there.

Science!
You may have noticed some changes to the info I give at the top of the page. I have started including a spot for wine closure type, because I think it’s interesting. Other people find it interesting too (Jamie Goode, my scientist/wine writer hero, has written an entire book on Wine Closures. I’ve got one on order.)

This may be old news for some, but screwcaps are no longer the sole domain of Carlo Rossi jug wine and Arbor Mist. Many high-quality wines are bottled under screwcaps, including a vast majority of the wines of New Zealand. There’s way too much to tell about them in one post so I’ll just give a brief introduction.

A disassembled screw cap (from Wikipedia)

A disassembled screw cap (from Wikipedia)

Screwcaps (also called Stelvin closures if you want to sound fancy) comprise three parts:

  1. a thin layer of tin foil
  2. a threaded cap that is screwed on to a threaded bottle
  3. a liner between the cap and the tin

The liner is the most important part of this closure, as it is the barrier through which oxygen can enter the bottle. Oxygen transmission is probably the most important parameter for a wine closure, and screwcaps generally have consistently low oxygen tranmission (orders of magnitude below natural cork and other synthetic closures). Given the importance of oxygen species in wine aging, it’s not surprising that wines under screw caps might age differently. How differently? Well, that’s sort of yet to be seen, as wide-scale adoption of these closures is a recent phenomenon. Screwcaps sometimes come under fire for “causing” reductive aromas like burnt match, struck flint, etc., but are also known for accentuating flavors and aromas caused by volatile thiols. Whether or not they actually cause reductive aromas, and the mechanism thereof, will be the subject of a post down the line. Probably the next time I pop a wine with a screwcap, which, in the Finger Lakes, might not be for a while.

Published in: on 15 September 2009 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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