Anyone attending a wine show or trade tasting in SA must be aware of how many good wines are available, often at prices which appear embarrassingly unkind to the primary producers. I recently made my way around an event in Port Elizabeth where there were more than 200 wines on offer. It is possible that some of the producers assumed that the Windy City was particularly price sensitive: at least half the wines were available at R60 or less. (This may simply be a fair reflection of the pricing centre of gravity of the market.) Some of the listings included widely discounted commercial brands. Even here, it was hard to fault the intrinsic quality. Very few tasted “cheap” — a euphemism for a little too industrial, and where the sweetness isn’t there to add to the consumer’s enjoyment but to conceal a multitude of sins. The Robertson unwooded Chardonnay was clearly never intended to be “classical” — it certainly wasn’t limey and citrus-like. There, the hint of sweetness served to make it...

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