Summertime Wines – Cono Sur vs. Obikwa

July 13, 2005

One of the many reasons why I don’t pay much attention to our local wine writer is that he’s a big fan of a cheap South African brand called Obikwa. He constantly sings the praises of the Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc ($8.49) and the Obikwa Shiraz ($8.99). Having tried both of the wines, I suppose the only positive thing one can say about Obikwa is that it’s cheap.

In an effort to find a good wine as cheap as the Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc, I picked up a bottle of the Cono Sur Tocornal Sauvignon Blanc (1.5 litre bottle) for $15.79 plus tax. It’s actually cheaper ($18 with taxes, or the equivalent of $9/ regular bottle). And it’s way tastier.

The Cono Sur is a great summer wine. It shows lots of crisp Sauvignon Blanc goodness, some nice fruit flavours and a long thirst-quenching finish make this the wine to beat. My only complaint is that it tasted a bit watery. Although with the humidex supposedly hitting 41 today, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In the summer, people guzzle watery Italian whites by the truck-load, and the Cono Sur has way more flavour than your average Pinot Grigio.

Last time I tried Obikwa’s Sauvignon Blanc, I found it skunky and weak. Some hints of varietal flavour were quickly overwhelmed by a funky taste that reminded me of the monkey house at the zoo. It had a long finish, but given the funky taste and some bad stemmy flavours that came up later, that wasn’t a good thing. And I’m normally a huge fan of South African Sauvignon Blanc, but I wouldn’t touch this one. The Shiraz was equally nasty, with the monkey-house taste replaced by a bizarre smoke/ash flavour that reminded me of burned toast.

Ultimately, taste is a personal thing. I don’t believe that my taste in wine should influence the purchasing decisions of others. My opinion is merely that. But I think a wine writer does a disservice to their readers by promoting a wine simply because it’s cheap. Given the awful experience I had with both Obikwas, I can’t imagine any other reason to recommend these wines.

The MLCC sells the Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc for $10.83. If you’re dead-set on buying a nice South African Sauvignon Blanc, I’d happily recommend this one. Even the $8.93 Two Oceans SB is a nicer wine than the Obikwa.

So be sure to skip the Obikwa and take a bottle of the Cono Sur Tocornal Sauvignon Blanc to the lake instead. It’s cheaper, it’s better and you’ll probably find it on the shelf of your favourite local private wine store.


One comment

  1. I have just purchased some of the “cheap” Obikwa wines and believe me it is certainly not cheap crap it is certainly equal to a lot of NZ Wines. Sav. Banc, Merlot, Cab. Sav and Syrah(Shiraz) are my favourites.

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