I met two old friends last week. Firstly, I bumped into an old schoolfriend that I hadn't seen in over a decade. Despite the huge number of changes that have gone on in both our lives (marriage for us both, children for her, both in professional jobs instead of having parties on the beach and drinking Smirnoff Ices) we were at ease with one another again despite being very different people. Similarly, I rekindled a relationship with a wine that I haven't tasted since I left Oddbins back in 2004, the South African Glen Carlou Pinot Noir and was intrigued to see if i would have the same reaction to this wine.
Now to be honest, I don't recall much about Glen Carlou from back then except that the Pinot Noir was tasty enough. The labels were always a bit boring, the wines were around seven or eight pounds and that was it really. They were just there, sitting on the shelf by the fridge and I never really paid them much attention. What would at least eight more years of tasting wine make me think of these wines and would the Pinot Noir live up to my memories?
Starting with the 2011 Glen Carlou Chardonnay, it had a slight ginger, peachy aromas mixed with pear skin, leading onto a palate of soft wood, savoury notes and a bit of fleshier apple, peach and apricot. A gorgeous finish of gentle wood and fruit. Firstly, this is an great South African Chardonnay. Secondly, this is a great Chardonnay - regardless of where it is from. Finally, this wine is only twelve pounds, which makes it one of the best value wines I've tried in a long time. 90pts
I moved onto the 2010 Glen Carlou Quartz Stone Chardonnay and there was a lot of peach coming off and less wood than the other wine. It was as if someone had not just stirred the lees, but put it in a blender as there was a load of yeasty aromas coming off. The palate is well balanced with lots of gentle wood, tropical fruit and then a sprinkling of white pepper on the finish. It is a better wine than the 'basic' Glen Carlou Chardonnay, and although it is worth the nineteen pounds you are paying, it doesn't over deliver like the other wine does. 90pts
Moving onto a pair of reds, the 2010 Glen Carlou Cabernet Sauvignon was another brilliant wine. Some sprouty aromas immediately made me think that they may have thrown in some Cabernet Franc as well, with a lovely blackcurrant and chocolate coming through. The palate has an awesome tobacco and dark cherry flavour with some spice and more of the sprouts on the finish. Again, twelve quid and phenominal value. 91pts
Finally, onto the Pinot Noir - the wine I loved back in my rookie wine merchant days. This was the 2011 vintage and it was.... awful. Horribly chemically, then thin with feeble, fake fruit aromas. There was a cheap perfume - the sort of perfume that a Big Brother contestant would put their name to when they were trying to milk that cash cow. The palate was like licking plastic which had had some Ribena spilled on it. This is a horrific mess of a wine. 57pts
Meeting my old school friend was lovely, meeting an old wine friend less so, but it's siblings were stunning wines. I wouldn't bother with the Quartz Stone, not because it isn't good, but because for an extra fiver you can buy one of each of the Chardonnay and Cabernet.