An old friend of mine is on a tour of, well, the world. In the last two weeks, I think he’s been in Istanbul, Zanzibar, and now he’s somewhere in the Serengeti. Curt is a wine connoisseur, so I’ve begged him to send me tasting notes of his adventures whenever he has some time and an internet connection. Here is the first of those missives, detailing a set of Tanzanian wines. I’m hoping for his notes from Africa all the way to Paris. You can check out Curt’s travel blog at march-fourth.com.
The day before leaving for Tanzania for 2 weeks, I attended a once in a lifetime winetasting. Our regular wine group spent the evening tasting some spectacular burgundies, including a Le Montrachet and a Romanee Conti. The advice I received that night, from a friend who has spent numerous years traveling the world - especially in Africa: ‘Take your wine with you!’
So there I was (there I was, there I was!) in the gift shop at Lake Manyara, and a white and a red bottle From the finest Tanzanian Vineyards stuck out like a tourist in a local village – $10 for the white and $11 for the red. There was no vintage on the label and no way these bottles had been stored adequately in a building that more resembled a permanent camper. It was simply Dodoma Dry White and Dodoma Dry Red…so I bought them both.
Back at the lodge, I opened the white wine first, wanting to follow proper etiquette. The color was nothing special, medium to deep gold. The nose on the other hand knocked me back in my bar stool (and not in a good way)! It overwhelmed me with pungent iodine and I thought, ‘I should have brought some wine with me.’ I mustered up the courage and went back for the second nose with very low expectations, but found more mellow aromas. There were notes of unsweet honey and it seemed similar to a sherry. Lucky for me I enjoy a weird white wine like this from time to time. I took a sip and noticed the immediate dryness and strong acid drawing the moisture from my mouth. It actually had notes of wet tobacco on the palate (weird!). I finished 2 glasses and it held my attention but it was certainly beginning to take an effort to keep drinking it.
The red on the other hand was totally drinkable. I would probably stand it up against any California $10 red. It wasn’t the darkest red but it was still a teeth-stainer. I picked up consistent and subtle but identifiable hints of black cherry, pepper, and smoke on both the nose and the palate. A hint of extraction on the palate quickly melted away into a good balanced finish. I could have kept drinking this wine with dinner all night, but as customary I reserved a glass for tasting the next day. By then all of the fruit had evaporated and it was a little like licking a rock.
Curious about my experiment, I searched the web for Dodoma wines. CNN dubbed Dodoma as one of the ‘5 African Wines Making a Splash’ in January this year. Other articles are sparse, but commentary seems to at least say the Dodoma wines are making a marketing push. Right now I think it is a high price to value ratio – let’s hope it stays that way.
You win some, you lose some. I am glad that I didn’t bring wine with me!
Hello, Wine Lovers!
I am so sorry! I took an unintended and unplanned hiatus. But I hope to be back now on a regular basis.
I will start by sharing with you a wine that I recently discovered. Well, I should really give the credit to my husband. One of the owners of the liquor store we frequent recommended this wine to him based on our consistent purchases of Apothic Red.
Southern Belle Red Wine 2011. A very flavorful wine from Jumilla, a town in Southeastern Spain. Its richness and dark fruitiness remind me a lot of Apothic. It is full-bodied, smooth and easy to drink. And I love the bottle’s artwork. Cost is $18-$20.
I could not find many details about this wine, but it sounds like it’s produced by Chris Ringland and is a “new” version of his previous Shiraz-based Southern Belle. I also saw a reference or two that the wine is aged in old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels, which is cool.
The liquor store owner told me that the winemaker only makes this blend about every three years so when it’s gone, it’s gone. I’m not sure how much truth there is to that. The Party Source website says they have this wine in stock, so it might be time to stock up.
Have you tried Southern Belle? Do you know much about it? Do tell.
I’ve tried a couple of new wines lately. Both white. Both very good. I thought I’d better try a couple more whites before Fall settles in.
Simply Naked Unoaked Chardonnay, California 2010. This Chardonnay is not oaked- aged, just how I like it. It is instead fermented in stainless steel, which allows the true fruit flavors to shine through.
Simply Naked is a very approachable medium-bodied white wine with a crisp fruit taste. I definitely tasted a strong green apple flavor. A good choice even if you’re not a Chardonnay lover. Without the oak, you don’t get that buttery flavor. Just under $10.
Root 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2012. This Chilean white wine has the typical acidity and citrus taste of a Sauvignon Blanc. Light-bodied, crisp and a little tart, with flavors of grapefruit and lemon. One of the better Sauv Blancs I’ve had for the price. About $10-$11.
I think the evenings this weekend will feel a little more Fall-like. It might be a great time to try Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet-Merlot 2010.
This California red blend consists of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. Although considered a full-bodied wine, I would classify it as medium-bodied.
Deliciously smooth and easy to drink. It has flavors of blackberry and cherry, with hints of vanilla and some oaky spice. It’s fruity and jammy with a nice finish.
A great value at less than $15.
Every once in a while I’m in the mood for a sweeter wine (remind me to tell you my story about the Bota Box wine).
I opened a Riesling that was left over from my wine exchange back in January – one that I’ve never tried it.
Long Lake 2009 Riesling is a California wine with melon, apple and some citrus flavors. I prefer a Riesling from Germany, but this one was pretty tasty. Very aromatic, which is typical of this grape variety. Not overly dry or overly sweet. It was crisp and easy to drink, which can be dangerous.
I give this wine a Pink Happy Face! Apologies…for some reason I am not able to insert the Pink Happy Face image. Working on that.
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