Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fly Swatting

Five Flies. That long standing Cape Town institution, so liked by the law fraternity, was our latest venue for undercover wine tasting. If walls could talk this place would spill the beans, I mean tell the truth, on almost every case ever heard in the Cape High Court. And considering the penchment the legal fraternity has for the finer thing in life, at their clients expense, running our eagle eyes, noses and taste senses over what makes up the Five Flies Wine list sounded like the obvious thing to do. I must admit I have never dined here before, I have always been afraid that I would be slapped with a civil lawsuit running into millions if I said the wrong thing or looked the wrong way. But I needn't have feared, I found the atmosphere warm and friendly. Look they not going to win too many bespoke design awards, rather more old world than new, tradition over innovation, established over cutting edge, wood over stainless steel. All in all lots of neutral tones, white table cloth's and dark wood, you get the picture. But we came to taste the wines not do a review for Huisgenoot.

We were seated in a private room off the main dining room. I could imagine this as a plesent space to enjoy a dinner with close friends in a private atmosphere. Or maybe chat in hushed tones about how to lie your way out of a death sentence...but I digress. I have a few pet hates when it comes to wine lists and serving wine in restaurants. In no particular order: Boring wine lists, huge mark ups, wine served at incorrect tempretures, crap glasses, and staff that don't have a clue when it comes to wine. Why do I mention this, well because Five Flies is guilty of at least two of the above. Wine glasses with edges as thick as milk bottles are just so unsexy and serving reds at Arctic temperatures is enough of a sin to spend a weekend in Pollsmoor. Serving warm wines is punishable by death so the bar staff figured lets keep our reds nice and chilled. Good idea but please take them from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, frozen ethanol not really my cup of tea. So what of the wines served.

NO1: Warwick Sauvignon Blanc 09: 13/20

This wine reminds me of Paris Hilton-its famous for being famous. It comes from the famed Warick Estate so the pedigree is there. But I really fails to deliver. At R185/bottle you could do better and go for the Waterford Pecan Stream Sauvignon Blanc at R 115/bottle and treat yourself to a fine Havana with the change. I found the nose to be fairly shy, but with subtle hints of tropical fruit. The palate showed the same fruit with a pleasing weight. The real disappointment was the finish and out of sync acid. Rennies all round and an aftertaste that disappears faster than Juluis Mallema once all the trouble has been caused.

NO2: Hartenberg Chardonnay 08 15/20

If you are tired of over oaked badly handled Chardonnay that often tastes like Oak Juice then give this wine a go. The nose was inviting and intriguing with subtle hints of spice, lemon, caramel and toffee apple. Like your Grandma standing at the kitchen door saying come in my son...the nose excites you and entices you to savour and enjoy every sip. The palate has a nice balance between fruit and acidity with a satisfying finish. The only faults I could find with this wine is I found the alcohol a little harsh and the mid palate slightly lacking. All in all a good example of what can be done with Chardonnay if handled correctly. Fair value at R165/bottle

NO3: Paul Cluver Gewurtz 09 14.5/20

Coco Chanel no5 in a bottle. Fragrant, perfumey, certainly a wine I guess ladies would enjoy. An expressive nose of rose petals and litchi. Nice fruit on the palate with a kiss of spice, I did however find the acid and weight lacking. This wine cries out for food, anything Thai, Indian or even Cape Malay. At R135/bottle I would call this a great value buy.

NO4: Muldersbosch Chardonnay 07 13.5

For me the real disappointment on the night. I have had this wine before and really loved it. But on this occasion for me it just didn't deliver, or maybe it was just me who was off my game. An overpowering nose of all things oak didn't excite me to what the palate had in store.

NO5: Dornier Pinotage 07 12/20

Pinotage you either love it or you hate it. Me, I sit on the electric fence. More Pinot Noir in character than Pinotage, think forest floor, mushrooms and a hint of sulphur...I found the palate lacking in fruit and dominated by perky acidity. At R165 per bottle you decide if thats fair value.

NO6: Raka Quinary 2005 13/20

A Bordeaux blend, that still seems big, even though the wine is 5 years young. Big powerfull nose with lots of oak, hints of spice and dark red fruit masked by the oaking, even the tannins are fairly prominent. So all in all a big wine that is crying out for a man mountain steak. At R185 I think you could do better by choosing Alto Rouge @ R165 that pairs much better with a wider variety of food.

NO7: Leopeards Leap 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon 14/20

Lots of baked fruit on the nose and a slight hint on greenness/herbal note. I found the palate very satisfying and well balanced, lots of red dark fruit, think plums. Once again this wine also showed a fair amount of grip suggesting it would pair well with herb crusted rack of lamb.

NO8: Stellenkaya Merlot 2006 14.5/20

My first impression of this wine was: restraint. Nothing big and overpowering jumping out at you. Rather subtle, delicate hints of spice and cloves all surrounded by a touch of blackcurrant. Stellenkaya is headed by a bunch of dynamic women, a female touch evident on the nose. With such an elegant nose I was certainly interested in weather the promise would deliver through. And it did to a point. All the red fruits were there but all to briefly. So a great start but a short finish.Will pair well with veal and a light Parmesan cream sauce.

Five Flies Wine list in general isn't bad but it isn't great. At the top end they have a nice enough collection for the wealthy lawyers to splurge their clients cash on, but at the entry level and mid range I think the list lacks imagination and variety. The biggest disappointment for me was the temperature of the red wines, all way to low. As a result it becomes difficult to asses the wine. Green, chunky and unpleasant. On the night the overall scores were fairly low, I am sure had the red wines been served at the correct temperature the overall scores would have been higher by about half a point.

Now let me see if I can find myself a half decent honest lawyer.


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