Agostinelli Barbera from Fairview – a short and sweet review


20070209_frontlinewineeI love a challenge, I do. 

I was thrilled back in the summer when Andrew of Spittoon alerted me to a challenge to do a visual tasting note of a wine – and when I saw him over the weekend he presented me with a new challenge.  Andrew is hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday this month and it’s been ages and ages since I last played along.  But when I heard the theme I could not resist:  describe a wine in 7 words.

The only slight catch was that it should be an Italian red, and I had none in my cellar – plus we are off on holiday soon and I am avoiding going shopping for food and drink we don’t need.  Damn!  But then I devised a sneaky way to get round the Italian requirement…

At a food and wine matching dinner at the Frontline Club over the weekend (more on that in the next post), we had a bottle from one of the South African vineyards I most enjoy visiting:  Fairview.

If you ever go to the Cape, please don’t miss this great place – I’ve written about it before and I think my enthusiasm for it shows.  Not only do they grow all kinds of interesting grapes not commonly seen as single-cultivar bottlings in South Africa, but they also amuse me endlessly with their cheeky EU-annoying names like Goats do Roam and Goat Roti.  These would be insufferably twee if you did not know that they also have a large herd of goats which they use to make a fantastic range of cheeses.  But I digress.  The Agostinelli label consists of three Fairview wines all made with Italian grapes, so I figured I could almost describe it as an italian red…  Andrew seems a forgiving chap 😉

Isn’t it a funny thing, your palate?  You can train it to like certain things.  You can train it to be able to tell good from bad, despite your personal tastes.  But the tastes you grow up with will have a hold on you for the rest of your life.  Yes, homemade mayonnaise is just heavenly – but the taste of Hellmann’s is always going to be my gold-standard for mayo and take me right back to my childhood.  Because for many years I thought when you looked up mayonnaise in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Hellmann’s beside it 😉  You see what I mean.  And for me, the wines I like are always going to influenced to some extent by my New World palate.  I like big reds.  I like whites with up-front fruit.  Yes, I can appreciate the art of and write considered tasting notes on an austere Chablis or a restrained Bordeaux, but when it comes to what makes me sip, sit back and go aaaaaaah, give me big, bold New World wines any day.  Even with Old World wines, I seek out the big bold ones – Gigondas, Rioja. 

You can take a girl out of Africa, but you can’t take Africa out of the girl.

As I said, I tasted this over the weekend at the Frontline Club and some of our companions really hated this wine.  Overblown, over-extracted, too alcoholic, too in your face etc etc.  But to me, it was the essence of the Cape Winelands’ dry, hot summers and the intense purply-black of sun-warmed grapes they produce.  In one word? Fabulous.  In seven words?

"Cicadas, baked earth, warm purple juice – bottled"

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  1. says

    I am probably telling you something you already know, but I thought I’d let you know that I read in the Dec Taste magazine that there is a goat farm, complete with a replica Fairview goat tower, in Norway. It’s called Ekeby Goat Farm and they have imported “boerbokkies” from Fairview. They have a restaurant that serves the Fairview wines, with a marimba band in attendace, nogal. They will be conducting an exchange programme between workers of Ekeby and Fairview this year. Just some useless information 😉

  2. MARY ELLEN says