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Vine Time

Quality and price: which do you go for when buying wine?

Their relationship is a never-ending debate among wine lovers

False Bay Vineyards winemaker Nadia Barnard and owner Paul Boutinot aim to make real wines affordable
False Bay Vineyards winemaker Nadia Barnard and owner Paul Boutinot aim to make real wines affordable

Quality and price are like that one uncomfortable couple we all know. The chances of them ever riding off happily into the sunset together are remote, because there’s just no way they can agree on what makes the one “good” and the other “reasonable”.

Their relationship is a never-ending debate among wine lovers – does a higher price always deliver a better wine, or do you shop by the experts’ ratings, and in any case, what’s a “reasonable” price?

And then there’s how the wine is made. Our mismatched couple will endlessly argue the pro’s and con’s of wines produced at industrial scale, manipulated in the cellar for uniform quality (or blandness, depending which way you look at it), versus the arguably more interesting and complex wines that come from gentler handling and minimal intervention – and at a higher price.

Nonetheless, most of us who just love wine are ever in search of that elusive thing called “great value” – a wine that really delivers quality above the level expected for its price tag.

So, the wines of False Bay Vineyards turn out to be a great find, a kind of “couples therapy” for our uneasy duo – combining the wine-making approach of boutique or artisan wines with a very affordable price tag of around 60 bucks.

Owner Paul Boutinot and winemaker Nadia Barnard – the pair also responsible for the top-tier biodynamic Waterkloof wines – aim to make “real” wines affordable.

Nadia best explains what they mean by “real wine”, talking about the Slow Chenin Blanc 2017: “This wine is crafted the wild way – old vine fruit, fermented with wild yeast found naturally on the grapes, not in a packet. And no, the grapes don’t take three weeks to get from vineyard to bottle. This magical transformation takes at least six months.”

The resulting wine is textured and full of flavour, with body and complexity, integrating a range of subtle flavours – honey and nutty notes, some tropical pineapple, and a lingering zest on the finish.

The reds in the range get similarly loving treatment that one would expect in a pricier wine, the Old School Syrah 2017 with its juicy ripe fruits, dark berries and tasty savouriness the product of wild fermentation and some ageing in large wooden casks, rather than being soaked with a giant teabag of toasted oak chips (yes, some people really do that).

The range also includes a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Rhone-style rosé and a pinotage, all with stylish recently redesigned labels – and together helping to make happy bedfellows of price and quality.

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