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In This Issue
 Two South African treats
 Charles Back 2001 Western Cape "Goat Rotí" ($13.99)
 Warwick 2000 Simonsberg Stellenbosch "Three Cape Ladies" ($20.99)
 California Wine Club: Avoid the malls this holiday season!
 Sponsorship opportunities
 This week on
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

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For all past editions,
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For information, E-mail

Two South African treats

Having spent a lot of time on Australia and New Zealand lately, let's switch our attention today to a different quadrant of the Southern Hemisphere.

The wines of South Africa are often to my liking - many of them offer an appealing style combination of New World fruit and Old World earth - but even to this day, a full decade after the end of apartheid and the international economic boycott that limited the market for South African products, the country's wines occupy only a tiny fraction of shelf space in many wine shops around the world.

Hereabouts, I rarely see more than a couple of dozen South African labels at any given time, even in our largest retailers, and these range from mass-market plonk to the occasional high-end label.

Happily, I've run across a couple of appealing items in recent weeks, and I share reports on them with you today. The wines of Charles Back, with their tongue-in-cheek labels related to his family's domestic goats, have become by far the most popular South African brand in the U.S., a position that Back has earned not only through publicity but value. Today's other wine comes from Warwick Vineyards, a South African estate that has consistently impressed me with its quality.

If you want to follow South African wine and wineries in detail, there's no better resource than the John Platter South Africa Wine Guide. The 2004 Guide will be published next month. For information on purchasing the book or online access to its contents, check the John Platter Website,
Much of the Website is available only by subscription (at 100 South African Rand, about US$14), but some content is freely available, including useful maps of the South African wine regions.

Goat Roti Charles Back 2001 Western Cape "Goat Rotí" ($13.99)

Very dark reddish-purple with ruby glints. Deep plum and anise aromas take the fore, but interesting smoky "bacon-fat" aromas in the background evoke the Rhone. Ripe and tart, black plum, anise and smoky flavors mirror the nose; food-friendly, snappy acidity provides structure in a long finish. Good fruit and balance keep exceptionally high (14.58%) alcohol from dominating. U.S. importer: Vineyard Brands Inc., Birmingham, Ala. (Sept. 21, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's smoky bacon notes make an unexpectedly good match with bits of crisp bacon in an Italian-style spaghetti carbonara.

VALUE: Appropriate price for value.

WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to drink but could evolve in an interesting way with a few years of cellar time.

WEB LINK: You'll find the producer's fact sheet on Goat Rotí at

Warwick Warwick 2000 Simonsberg Stellenbosch "Three Cape Ladies" ($20.99)

This blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Pinotage shows a very dark garnet color in the glass, black at the core. Its forward aromas offer black plums and spice with a distinct, not unpleasant earthy back note of "rubber tire" that I often find in South African reds. Mouth-filling and textured, soft tannins and appropriately sharp acidity surround ripe, full fruit. There's a lot going on here in a balanced and complex wine; plum, black cherry and spice persist in a very long finish. U.S. importer: Broadbent Selections Inc., San Francisco. (Oct. 17, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: A wine made for red meat, it's a natural partner with a medium-rare rolled beef sirloin roast.

VALUE: At the $20 point it's rising past everyday-wine status, but it more than meets the international competition at this level.

WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to drink, but I see no reason why it wouldn't reward years of proper cellaring.

WEB LINK: Here's the importer's fact sheet on Warwick Vineyards:

California Wine Club

California Wine Club:
Avoid the malls this holiday season!

You could fight for parking and struggle to find that perfect gift. Or, you could call The California Wine Club and enjoy your holidays this year. No shopping, no shipping and no wrapping!

Holiday shopping is easy with The California Wine Club, and they guarantee every wine that your gift recipients will receive. Plus, if you order now there's NO billing and NO shipping until Dec. 1, 2003.

Mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor and they'll even send you a free copy of the Wine Fundamentals DVD - a $24.95 value. Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit

Sponsorship Opportunities

There is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than

Because we're not encumbered by the costs of producing a print publication or television program, our operating costs are relatively low, and this benefits our advertising partners in the form of rates that the traditional media can't deliver. And because we've been around the Web longer and enjoy wider readership than any other online wine publication, it's no surprise that advertising partners who've tried the competition tell us that the results - even from the big names in the wine-magazine world - simply don't compare.

If you're in a position to give advertising a try, or if you know someone who might, I'll be happy to provide more information. Just drop me a note at

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:

Dave McIntyre's WineLine: Oh! Canada?
Say "Canadian wine," and most oenogeeks will respond, "Oh yeah, Inniskillin makes nice ice wines, but they're sooooo expensive." But Canadian wine is much more than just Inniskillin, the world-renowned winery that launched Ontario's current wine boom. After spending a long weekend tasting wines in romantic Niagara Falls and the nearby Niagara wine region on the south shore of Lake Ontario, Dave McIntyre offers us his WineLine No. 34, making the case that Canada is about much more than ice wine.

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Favorite wine opener
Whether you consider this an intriguing part of the mystique of wine or just an irritating chore, one thing is certain: You'll need a special tool to get at the contents of a wine bottle stoppered with the traditional cork. So what's your favorite? Simple waiter's model, pricey lever model, or your bare hands on a screw cap? This week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth picks up a recurring topic as we invite you to tell us about your favorite wine opener.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 An Italian homecoming (Oct. 17, 2003)

 Hit the (local) wine road (Oct. 15, 2003)

 Screw cap gains momentum (Oct. 13, 2003)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Dining out Down Under (Oct. 16, 2003)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Oct. 20, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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