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Last night, we went to yet another wine tasting evening given by Roland Peens at the fabulous Wine Cellar. We have attended several of his introductory tastings, but this time we went big, and attended an evening featuring the Top Tuscans. At these events, unlike the introductory tastings, the tasting is done ‘blind’, in the company of many auspicious persons from the world of wine.

We sat one place away from two Daves – the founders of Wine Cellar and Roland’s partners. I spent a great portion of my evening cupping my hand over my tasting notes, lest Dave no. 1 should read them and see through my adopted-for-the-evening wine-expert visage.

We tasted two flights: six premium wines from Montalcino, and six of the Super Tuscans:

Silvio Nardi Rosso di Montalcino 2010
Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2007
Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino Manachiara 2006
Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Rennina 2007
Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille 2007
Soldera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006

Silvio Nardi Turan Sant Antimo DOC 2011
Ca’Marcanda (Gaja) Promis Toscana IGT 2009
Antinori Tignanello 2009
Ornellaia 2009
Ca’Marcanda (Gaja) Camaracanda 2008
San Guido Sassicaia 2009

For me, a novice, I found the first flight a bit difficult – some of the wines were fairly austere and tight, although I did quite like a couple of them. To be fair though, the wines are young and fiercely tannic, and we were not tasting them with food. I found the second flight more accessible, smoother, fruitier and richer. Some of the aficionados far preferred the first flight. Dave no. 1 said that the wines in the first flight were honest about their provenance, i.e. they tasted like Italian Sangiovese. He felt that the second flight, many of which were Bordeaux-style blends could just as easily have come from, well, Bordeaux. I guess that if you spend a great deal of time tasting fine wines, you would start to look for wines that are typical of their grape variety and region. I imagine that if the wines from the first flight were aged for another ten years and eaten with Veal al Limone, they could reach the sublime and dizzy heights of perfection. One big exception for me in the first flight was the Soldera – when the bottle was passed around, I optimistically up-ended it over my glass, foolishly imagining that there would be some left.

I thought that I would not buy any wine after last night’s tasting, due to the fact that the wines were super Tuscans and would therefore be pricy. However, as is always the case at Roland’s tasting evenings, there are instances where deliciousness joyously intersects with sort-of affordability, and once again the credit card limit is put to the test. Thanks to Roland, our house is filling up with fine wines, but there is no cat food, bread or milk.

We decided to catch a taxi to and from the Wine Cellar, with a view to guzzling up every drop of fine Tuscan wine that came our way. When the taxi dropped us at the venue, my husband said the driver could drop us at the corner. I realised that he was slightly embarrassed, as was I. It struck me what a pervasive South African mentality this attitude portrays; being a cowboy is cool; doing the right thing is uncool. I, like many, have driven fairly heavily under the influence of alcohol in my wild and wanton youth; the only reason why I can relate that here, is that I didn’t plough my car into a group of children (but could have).

When the new liquor legislation comes into effect, people’s behaviour and attitude will change accordingly. Rumour has it that drivers will not be allowed a single drop of alcohol. Those of us who like a glass or two of wine at a restaurant or at friend’s will whinge. Many will still take chances – if you are caught after one or two, at best, you might get a slap on the wrist and a warning; at worst (and assuming you miss the sad group of children who are still inexplicably standing in the road), the traffic officer may decide there is something too sassy in your demeanour, rough you up, and throw you into a police van – which just might contain a batch of newly re-arrested members of the 28’s gang, en-route to Pollsmoor. Seriously people, just catch the cab. From now on, that is what we are going to do.

At the end of the evening, I looked at my tasting notes. I noticed that my handwriting was completely different for the two flights. For the first flight it was tight, clipped and precise (a bit like the wines). For the second it was sweeping, expansive and poetic (a bit like the wines). I was impressed to see my notes peppered with the odd word like ‘grippy’ and ‘chewy’. Encouraged, I looked more closely at my notes, and read the following: Reduction on the noise.

To see the line up of tasting events at the Wine Cellar, visit: Wine Cellar

For Rikki’s taxis, call 0861 745547