Serious mission for that elusive bargain

The best value winning Fat Bastard Chardonnay
The best value winning Fat Bastard Chardonnay

It's hardly news to anyone that times are tough, which makes the search for quality wine at affordable prices less of an intriguing hunt for that elusive bargain and more of a serious mission.

Definitions of “affordable” vary, of course, but in general, budget-conscious wine lovers (and that’s most of us these days) are looking for a wine with flavour and character that lifts it above the ordinariness of a cheap ‘n cheerful, but at a price ordinary enough for everyday drinking.

Recognising that top-end wines are “undoubtedly excellent” but increasingly at prices that reserve them for special occasions, the team at have introduced a series of “Best Value” tastings for wines in the R60-R100 price bracket.

The beauty of this is that the wines are blind tasted by a three-person panel and scored on a 100-point scale – the same procedure as with the magazine’s regular varietal reports that don’t consider price – so the leading affordable wines, on a score basis, are potentially those that could hold their own in more expensive company

.The top-scorers go through a second round of blind tasting and discussion with editor Christiaan Eedes, so the “final results do not merely reflect arithmetic averaging”, he says.

The first Best Value tasting reports were released earlier this month, focusing on chardonnay and pinotage, and it’s interesting to look at the “best value” chardonnay results vs winemag’s annual Prescient Chardonnay Report (the one where price isn’t a factor).

The highest-scoring best value chardonnay came in at 90 points which, in theory, puts it in the same class as wines like Creation Art of Chardonnay (R900!), Glen Carlou Quartz Stone (R300) and Paul Cluver (R250), all of which scored 90 in the magazine’s Prescient report last year.

The happy best value winner? The 2018 Fat Bastard Chardonnay from Robertson Winery which you can pick up in most stores for around 90 bucks!

Eedes praised the Fat Bastard as “bold but well-rounded and balanced” saying it “seduces with ripe stone fruit, tropical melon too, and subtle hints of vanilla”.

Celebrating their win, the winery speedily sent over a sample to Vine Time and I found it more restrained and elegant than I remember from previous tastings of a rather big, buttery wine.

It’s still buttery, with lots of vanilla, but a balancing touch of lime and subtlety – highly recommended for chardonnay-lovers to seek out.

The rest of the top 5 came from De Krans (the wild ferment unwooded – also a great bargain around R60), Cape Town Wine Co, Slanghoek Private Selection and the Laibach Ladybird from Woolies.