I Love South African Wines

Founded by Angela Aiello, the iYellow Wine Club was established to create an environment for wine lovers to learn, explore and taste wines from vintners around the globe. What separates iYellow Wine Club from other clubs is the warm and inviting environment that is created to cultivate and encourage all members. With over 15,000 current members, iYellow has been catapulted into success and attributes some of its success to social media.

I had the pleasure of attending iYellow’s I Love South Africa event that was hosted at the Edward Day Gallery on February 14th, 2015. In true iYellow tradition they embraced the progressive tasting style and let attendees work through the room at their own pace. This stylized event housed over 15 wines to taste, reigning from established South African wineries in and around Cape Town. The dim lighting of the gallery created a collective ambiance with an artistic appeal through art and music. The gallery walls were decorated with paintings by John Climenhage whose paintings invoked images of landscapes by manipulating palettes of earthy tones with ambiguous shapes. Adding to the ambiance was a local musician playing traditional bongos that invited guests into the space.
IMG_0470Adjacent to the entrance was a beautiful wooden table that had gourmet donuts handcrafted by Glory Hole Doughnuts, farmers’ fresh cheese accompanied with crostini for attendees to nibble on in between sips of wine. I would highly suggest the lemon cheesecake donuts, the donuts were fresh and the fillings were delectable. Catering was also supplied by The Food Dudes that had stations set up preparing fresh mac n’ cheese and steak sandwiches to order. The mac n’ cheese was made up of five local cheeses, fresh chives, Cajun tempura bits and smoked tomato ketchup. The Steak sandwiches were comprised of carmelized onions, delicious slaw, and mustard aioli on a bun. All of the accompaniments made the experience that much more enjoyable and definitely foodie friendly.
IMG_0475Throughout the gallery space there were six stations set up with 3-4 wines each for tasting. Each station had an expert that was a wealth of information and knew each wine they were representing. What I really enjoyed about this event was that the entire evening was not pretentious and I was able to casually work through the room and experience the different wines of South Africa. An added bonus for the event was that all the wines showcased are all available at LCBO.
seductive shirazOf all the wines I was able to taste, three stood out the most. The first wine that really stood out was called “The Grinder” which is found in the vintage section of LCBO for $13.95. This red wine is exclusively comprised of a grape called the Pinotage that is a signature grape from South Africa. This grape is a cross between a pinot noir and a hemitage. Pinotage are known for notes of chocolate, leather, coffee and smoke. Immediately upon drinking The Grinder I could taste how it would pair well with smoky barbecue, so I decided to pair it with the steak sandwich and I was not disappointed in the least.
IMG_3290The second wine that grabbed my attention is Frisky Zebra’s Seductive Shiraz/Syrah. This Shiraz is lighter than most I have tried in the past, and has fruity undertones, soft tannins and is slightly dry. From the taste of this wine you can tell it is very versatile and can be paired well with grilled vegetables or meats, as well as pasta. What I really enjoyed about this wine was that since it was a light bodied wine that had the distinct taste of a Shiraz it would be a great wine to casually drink at social events.
IMG_3279Finally, the third wine that really stood out to me was Two Ocean’s Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc that was not only unique to the event but also South Africa. This Sparkling wine tastes fresh, fruity and zesty with a clean and crisp bubbles. The fruity and zesty notes are attributed to lychee and tropical fruits and this bubbly would definitely be paired well with sushi, oysters or seafood. Unlike typical bubblies, the taste is unique and crisp – it was neither sweet nor dry.
IMG_3291All of the wines were delicious and definitely made me formulate an opinion of South African wines; I would definitely purchase many of the wines I tasted after trying them. Each wine was priced under $20 and are all available at LCBO, which was shocking to me because each wine had structure and complex flavours. iYellow Wine Club was very successful in this event by exhibiting wine from South Africa in a progressive and social tasting. iYellow hosts three semesters of Wine School, 6-12 events a year, multiple excursions to the Niagara region and membership is free. I cannot wait to experience another iYellow event and learn more about different varietals, regions and compositions of wine.
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