Back to (Wine) School

Tasting and drinking wine is a personal experience and every palate enjoys a different discovery. Knowing more about the wine in your glass and its complexities improves the understanding. Bouchard Finlayson presents a range of tutored tastings for small groups in an informal setting inviting participants to share their thoughts and listen to answers that are not found on a wine label or a website. These tastings are not just presented at the cellar in Hemel-en-Aarde, Hermanus, but rather in centres close to wine consumers. A tasting menu is offered with the wines for an enhanced indulgence.

Peter Finlayson pouring another great wine at a tutored tasting
Peter Finlayson presenting a tutored tasting
Bouchard Finlayson's Cape Winemakers Guild vintages 2007, 2009, 2012
Bouchard Finlayson’s Cape Winemakers Guild vintages

Veteran winemaker Peter Finlayson is on hand to explain the taste differences of various vintages according to wet or dry seasons, replanting of vines and the use of oak barrels. At a recent tasting Finlayson shared the term goût de grêle which translates to “taste of hail” indicating how a vintage could be affected if some of the hail damaged berries end all shrunken with the rest of the good berries in the fermentation tank. Bouchard Finlayson had to deal with this reality in 1999 when the Cape experienced the ten hottest days since 1956 with a hailstorm ending the hot spell.

Finlayson confirmed a suspicion that Pinot Noir calls you back to the glass with its mysterious character that requires further inspection. Pinot Noir is also presented before Chardonnay in the line up to avoid a metallic taste encountered when tasting Pinot after Chardonnay.

Participation from the audience contributed to the learning. David Brice from Wine Cellar asked probing questions and noted that all the 2012 Bouchard Finlayson vintages tasted stood out as a great wines. This observation was supported by the notion that 2012 was generally a warm and healthy harvest. When asked about his recipe for good Pinot Noir Finlayson put it down to two basic elements: high-density plantings and long maceration periods providing grape skin contact.

Clearly Finlayson has mastered the recipe as the most recent wine awards – the South African Wine Index – rated Bouchard Finlayson’s Pinot Noir as an overall category winner. The tutored tastings certainly add to the awards and provide an entertaining yet educational evening out with open bottles of the best wines for tasting and re-tasting. Another winning recipe.