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In the Arts & Leisure, Wine section of Business Day on Wednesday, 6th May, Michael Fridjhon wrote:

'No-one readily admits to buying cheap wine, but these days there are not many who would proudly acknowledge consuming the really expensive stuff in case they're accused of schadenfreude.  Of course, there's plenty of good value wine to be found, but it usually comes with Buyer's Own Brand packaging and can only be offered at braais and picnics without costing more in 'face' than it does in rands.

There are some smartly packaged inexpensive offerings, but from the snob perspective, these involve the tight-rope walking exercise of wondering whether your guests know the bottles don't cost as much as their appearance suggests.

Chief among these is Leopard's Leap, a high volume, surprisingly well-priced range that looks and tastes as if it sells for twice the price.  Some of the wines going into the blends come from the Rupert family estates.  However, whether the fruit is La Motte or L'Ormarins or simply obtained from any one of a thousand growers seeking a market for their production, the net effect is impressive.

I remember tasting the range a few years ago and thinking that it was just adequate.  The current releases are a considerable step up.  The premium selection – such as the Shiraz 2007 – sells for between R35 and R40.  The entry-level wines – marketed under the Lookout label – are priced in the mid-R20's.  Here the Cabernet-Shiraz- Cinsaut blend as well as the Chenin Blanc-Colombard-Chardonnay are both well worth tracking down.

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