With crazy visions of me having to climb a Harry Potter-style staircase and move around from one wine tasting to another, I headed to Waverley Hills organic wine estate in the Western Cape. When I arrived at the venue, I was graciously greeted by the organisers and the winemaker and only after fishing around a little, did I really understand what I was about to undertake…
By Roxanne Greeff
A vertical tasting is one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had with wine. Basically, you take a vine and you taste each year, one after the other, and try to distinguish between them. What made it so interesting was that each wine was created from the same vines in the same way. All that changed was the time, and the taste (which changed drastically). This just goes to show how reliant a good wine is on its soil conditions and the amount of sunlight and water it receives. These things are, obviously, impossible to control from year to year. The result? A wine that tastes completely different from one vintage to another.
We tasted their popular Grenache from 2012 through to 2015, as well as the unique Shiraz Mourvèdre and Viognier blend, also from 2012 to 2015. We spent the time making our way through eight glasses of wine and enjoying a beautiful lunch at Burrata, all while listening to winemaker Johan Delport talk passionately about his craft. And, by the way, it was the first time he had tasted his wines vertically too, so it was an afternoon of discovery for all.
So if you are a lover of wine like I am, and interested in how it’s made and the art of tasting it, then I suggest you host a little vertical wine tasting of your own. You will be amazed at how sweet, bitter, sulphuric, fruity or spicy a wine can be from one year to the next.
What really stood out for me was the SMV blend. It began as a relatively sweet, fruity wine in 2012, but by the time I got to 2015, it tasted of spices like cinnamon and cloves with a roasted fruit undertone. And I know how pompous that sounds, but I’m far from any kind of wine connoisseur, and trust me, the difference was obvious.
So grab your friends, head to your favourite wine farm (or to your favourite shelf in the bottle store) and see how many vintages of the same bottle you can get your hands on. Lay out some cheese and biscuits and start tasting.
Be prepared to be amazed… And slightly tipsy!