The last thing that you expect to see when you pull a wine out of a cardboard box is a pert nipple on a wine called "The Black Virgin" but see this I did when I received six bottles from South African producer La Vierge. With labels designed by Sir Michael Adams, La Vierge (The Virgin) is a range of wines made in the Hemel en Aarde valley in South Africa and they occupy the ten to twenty pounds price point for South African wines that I am most excited about.
Reading through the website I wasn't sure I was reading a classics textbook, an exercise in wine marketing or a Mills & Boon book. Billed as 'Wines of Desire', sex appears to be a dominant theme throughout this brand. With wine names like 'Jezebelle', 'The Affair' and 'Nymphomane', naked people adorning most of the bottles, I am not sure whether the theory behind this brand creation was to be titilating or not, but I found it just a bit cheap and tawdry. It just seems a bit childish and I imagine it was created by a person who, when a schoolboy in the 1970's, looked at National Geographic just to see tribeswomen's boobies. Here are my thoughts on the wines.
2010 La Vierge The Last Temptation Riesling (£18.99)
Bright lime aromas mixed with a slightly soft petroly aroma. Orange Opal Fruits (Starbursts for anyone under 30) coming through at the end of the nose. The palate is tastes like plastic and alcohol Really really revolting. Unbalanced, disjointed and messy. 55pts
2010 La Vierge Original Sin Sauvignon Blanc (£11.99)
Bright grassy aromas with some light floral elderflower coming off. The palate is what you expect - elderflower, gooseberry and grass. There is too much heat on the finish, with a lot of acid on the finish. Not great but drinkable and at least it tastes like a South African Sauvignon Blanc. 78pts
2010 La Vierge Jezebelle Chardonnay (£14.99)
Tropical fruit, oak and pineapple. A big, ballsy aroma with lots of sweeter fruit aromas. The palate is pleasant enough, lots of oak a pineapple pith comes through and the alcohol is nearly in balance, but there are far more interesting and better quality wines at the price. 75pts
2010 La Vierge Noir Pinot Noir (£18.99)
Sweet cherries and a little raspberry coming out and then a bit of strawberry. The palate is ok at first alcoholic with some dark, bitter elements coming through. Again the alcohol comes for another bite later on in the finish. Terrible. 69pts
2010 La Vierge Satyricon Sangiovese Nebbiolo Barbera (£14.99)
Big rich and stewed with some bright cherry aromas and a little bit of sweet chocolate. The palate is dark, a bit stewed with some tobacco and liquorice. The finish is ok, but a bit rubbery on the back end, but you can drink this and find some enjoyment. 79pts
2010 La Vierge Nymphomane Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Cabernet Franc (£14.99)
Perfumey with some light strawberry and floral notes on the nose. A bit like cheap perfume. The palate is dark, a bit boring with some cherry, plum and wood. There is a charcoal like flavour emerging, and then a bitterness on the end with some alcohol. Pretty bad. 74pts
Orgies, innuendo and ancient Greek references aside, I was quite looking forward to trying the wines from this young producer. Instead of a beautiful harmonious mating of winemaker, grape and terrior, I found that I was presented with an disappointing and awkward messy fumble that wasn't satisfying in the slightest.