When I walk into Park & Bridge I immediately praise the owner and find comfort in his representation of South African wine. I am reassured by the endorsement from Jancis Robinson & sights of Adi Badenhorst, Bosman Wines & Alphabetical wines on the shelf give me every confidence to reveal key words and swap my credit card for his recommendations.
In my heart and mind I’m a chardomaniac, and the majority of my veins running through my body would lay testament to that. So my first pitch for a recommendation, and in hope of a new discovery (that wasn’t a ball busting Chablis, and wouldn’t cost me more than a months wage) I asked for a Chardonnay that wasn’t too shy of oak, has a good mouth feel, good acidity, but yet a line of creaminess & comfort. As I muttered these words; in my confused South African / English accent, I was immediately recommended this wine;
It cost me £11.00 and it ticked all those Chardonnay boxes; kind of… It was creamy but was a bit short on fruit and lacked the relative acidity in my mind. Melted butter & lime skin with faint notes of almonds. It didn’t have great length but it did linger. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad at all, in fact as a Monday night tipple it was great and went down very easily. I had been spending double that recently on Chardonnays so perhaps I had spoilt my palate and it was a bit biased.
I was surprised to realise it was a co-op wine. In South Africa that has a negative connotation; but soon I learnt it had a very different meaning in Europe.
However two interesting facts I found while researching it;
1) Limoux produced the world’s first sparkling wine in 1531
2) This co-op was prosecuted in 2010 for passing off wines blended from other grape varieties as Pinot Noir in order to charge higher prices to E. & J. Gallo, for whom this was their most popular variety. The amount of imitation Pinot Noir sold in this way exceeded the production of the Languedoc region and this scandal was said to have damaged the region’s reputation. The defendants were convicted. Jail sentences were given but suspended and fines of up to €180,000 were levied.