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Organics improve but not yet serious

WALTER Zahner's Naam Thai set off on a bold mission when it opened two years ago - to have an almost exclusively organic wine list to pair with his modern takes on Thai street food. He said that people laughed at him back then; today the options are much more plentiful.

The affable Swiss recently hosted a Waverley Hills organic wine dinner with South African vintner Kobus Du Toit in attendance.

His wines, distributed by South African Fine Wines, are certified organic by the Societe Generale de Surveillance, a global inspector headquartered in Geneva.

I've not jumped on the organic wine bandwagon because there's been no guarantee of quality °?- some of these wines have been downright awful.

The principal is sound in theory but, unlike biodynamic farming, certified organic requires a huge leap in quality for wines to be palatable.

Wine is not Du Toit's core business and his 30 hectares under vine represent a small percentage of his empire.

He has a scattered approach with about 10 varietals grown in the estate which released its first vintage in 2004.

The 2005 cabernet-shiraz blend has no grip whatsoever.

It is, however, very easy drinking and qualifies as a "lifestyle" wine that will get the market interested in the concept of quality organic wines.

The 2005 cabernet sauvignon is a more serious drop with a cherry and floral nose. A peppery wine, there was plenty of red fruit to play against the slightly odd tannins.

Waverley uses a combination of new French oak as well as oak staves and oak chips, as Du Toit points out that new French oak is expensive (around US$700-900 each). While the use of "artifical" oak is widespread, not many actually own up to it.


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