Like much wine producing country’s SA wine drinkers generally do not drink enough foreign wines. We tend to think our wines are good enough and few consumers are interested in foreign wines. This is rather sad as firstly, we are missing out on the many treasures and tastes that foreign wines have to offer. Secondly, we cannot educate ourselves wine wise unless we taste the best that the entire viticultural wine world has to offer. For many years, Reciprocal has imported an excellent selection of foreign wines at reasonable prices. For a long time under the astute and highly knowledgeable hand of leading SA wine authority Michael Fridjhon.



Since I started drinking wine seriously in 1995 Reciprocal have supplied an endless source of great foreign wines for my enjoyment and education. See below a description of some more “recent” Reciprocal gems for an analysis and tasting notes that I have been lucky to enjoy.

Starting with two Burgundy’s. The first, a bottle of Louis Jadot 2000 Vosne-Romanee 1 Cru Les Beaux Monts. Louis Jadot the highly regarded Burgundy merchant. Both for whites and reds. Vosne-Romanee is a village in Burgundy containing some of Burgundy’s finest crus including the famed Romanee-Conti.

Enjoyed with a friend at Buitenverwachting. The top restaurant at the wine farm in the Constantia Valley. A beautiful, clear aristocratic colour. The scent, ethereal.  Intense flavours, it exploded in the mouth. An orgasmic wine, extraordinary like medicine. A privilege to drink.

The second, a bottle of Vosne-Romanee 1998 Domaine Gros Fere. A fine family of Vignerons in Vosnee- Romanee.  Tasted in a top restaurant in Franschoek. The colour even ruby. The nose gamey, exotic, decadent. The palate the same, excellent follow on. A stunning wine, archetypical gamey, red fruit Burgundy. Beautiful balance of gamey and red fruits character.

Burgundy is often a miss or hit. It can be disappointing or it can be sublime. Reciprocal seem to know which wines to buy and I have never purchased a bad Burgundy from them. A credit to the company.

Onto to four Bordeaux’s. Chateau des Jacobins Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 1999. Even good garnet colour. Saint- Emilion is Merlot country forming, generally a greater proportion of Merlot in the Bordeaux blend then Cabernet Sauvignon. Drank two bottles of this fine wine. Lovely aromatic, fragrant nose. Cedary with vanilla on the nose from the oak. Very creamy on the palate with good length. Delicious. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it was excellent value for money! Top Bordeaux can be very expensive and it is always a bon to find good Bordeaux at affordable prices.



Chateau Chasse-Spleen 1995 from the Moulis region in Medoc. 1995 was a great vintage for Bordeaux. Hugh Johnson comments “Consistently good, often outstanding. One of the surest things in Bordeaux. An estate at classed – growth level.” If you want to drink fine Bordeaux at excellent value for money, in my opinion, go for Chasse-Spleen. It represents good value for money and is outstanding, classical, quintessential Bordeaux.

Chateau Duhart- Milon Grand Cru Classe’ 1990 in Pauillac, the home of great Cabernet Sauvignon driven Bordeaux blends. Fourth growth neighbour of Lafite Rothschild. Under same management. Still deep in colour, with a brooding nose. Still quite tannic on the palate for quite a mature wine. It needed a decanter. An old world, very traditional, austere style Bordeaux.

Finally, the fourth Bordeaux. Chateau Kirwan Grand Cru Classe’ Margaux 1998. A third growth.  Hugh Johnson observes “Mature vineyards now giving classy wines. Rich style.” Found the tasting notes for this wine on a scrap of paper! Deep garnet. Faded cassis – dusty black currents. Oak evident. Lovely perfumed nose that one should expect from a quality Margaux. At one time Margaux was very much loved for its perfume. Palate soft and light. Flavours exploding in the mouth.

Now onto two great sweet wines. One with a great past that due to political reasons fell into obscurity and is now in resurgence. The other always great. An icon.

Royal Tokaji 2000 5 Puttonyos. Under the rule of communism the great sweet wines fell into decline. But over 2 decades later has seen a renaissance. Hugh Johnson comments that luscious Tokaji, was once famously dubbed the “wine of kings and king of wines”. In fact, the area Tokai near the Constantia Valley in Cape Town was named so because the sought after sweet wines of Constantia were thought to resemble them in character. The collapse of communism in 1989 helped launch the Tokaj Renaissance.

Royal Tokaji

Royal Tokaji

Drunk in 2008. With Hungarian wine lover Carl with Madeira cake. Colour amber. Nose very complex. Fruit cake, brandy pudding. Apricots and honey! Palate rich, very sweet. Good follow on. Fine acidity, lovely intensity and length. At its peak. Great classic desert wine. 5 stars. Matured greatly since previous tasting 2 years hence. Rich but not cloying.

Finally, the wine of the article. Chateau d’ Yquem. The world’s most famous sweet wine estate in the renowned sweet wine region in Bordeaux, Sauternes. Hugh Johnson observes “Most vintages improve for 15 years plus, some live 100 years in transcendent splendour.

Price at the time R2500 wholesale for a half bottle. Drank on its own with wine mate Jascha. Did not want to drink with food as it is very rich. Colour medium to bright gold. Nose- fresh cream, apricots (often a signature of botrytis or noble rot). Petrol, melted butter, grilled nuts. Palate smooth- very silky and very, very rich. Incredibly rich and intense. Elegant. Tremendous length. Liquid cream- faultless. Yet fresh and seamless. Massive but subtle. A privilege to drink and certainly worth every cent!



  1. Michael Fridjhon says:

    Many thanks Gad, a very enjoyable read.
    What is interesting about the sales of imported wines is that in the past ten years or so more and more South African winemakers have been buying imports (selectively of course) – partly for pleasure, but also because increasingly they are conscious of the need to benchmark against international classics. This pattern coincides (unsurprisingly) with a palpable improvement in the quality of Cape wines. You cannot achieve vinous greatness if you operate in isolation.

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