I got an invitation last week to attend a wine tasting lunch and try some of the premium labels of the South African wine and spirit mammoth KWV. I have to admit it was not the KWV brand that attracted me. The invitation came from their Algarve distributor Prime Wine and the setting was a place where I always enjoy eating, G’s Bistro at Mar Shopping in Loulé. But what really got me hooked was the chance to try a 1930 Muscadel fortified wine from the same producer, which I discovered, after a little research, is one of the greatest fortified muscats out there. It was also a chance to experience Mar Shopping’s new outdoor dining terrace, where visitors can enjoy the great food from the four ‘Chef Experience’ outlets, away from the hubbub of the shopping centre food court. I should add here that any readers who have not yet tried the food from these outlets are missing out. The food on offer is in a different league to what we expect to find in a shopping mall (in the western world at least); my personal favourite being G’s Bistro, where chef Guy Doré cooks up authentic Bistro classics, including an excellent beef tartare.
Anyway, now for the wines. We sampled a good cross section of the relatively new Mentors’ range of varietals. These wines sit above the well-known KWV Classic range and are priced in supermarkets (Apolónia and Pingo Doce) around the €15-€16 mark. Most impressive of all was a wine not yet on the market here, the Grenache Blanc, a variety I had never before tried and a wine that resembled a very decent Riesling. Amongst the varietals under the Mentors label, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc can all be found here in the Algarve, thanks to Prime Wine.
And finally, for something you will certainly not find in the shops, one of the guests at the lunch was local resident and wine connoisseur Paul Kelly, who deprived his cellar of a much treasured bottle of KWV’s 1930 Muscadel, a wine that was bottled in the early 80s after more than 50 years in oak. I have tried some of the very best fortified wines made here in Portugal and can say, without reservation, that this South African nectar is up there with the best.