Boetie Rietoff is relishing his new vinous ventures.

Cape Town - Discovering two budget-beating ranges of well-made wines – single cultivars and blends, red, white and rosé – selling for between R21.50 and R23 is a good find indeed. When you learn that sales of each of the dozen labels benefit a local charity or needy school there’s added impetus to make these your choice of tipple.

It’s just more than a year since Boetie Rietoff launched his Somerset Wines project, and charities that have benefited include Cotlands Baby Sanctuary, Animal Welfare Society and Hospice, Patch Child Abuse Centre, Lwandle schools, Alta du Toit school, The Association for the Physically Disabled and Aanhou-Wen-Klub. Schools in Lwandle township have also received cheques, which are never less than R5 000 and are handed over once a month.

After 40-odd years in the wine industry, there’s little that Boetie doesn’t know about wholesale and retail distribution of wines. Born and bred in Somerset West, he returned to his roots from Gauteng intending to retire. Towards the close of the last century he started Somerset Wines instead, a wholesale distribution company that supports small wine farms. For the Somerset labels he sources good wine and gets blends made at established Boland cellars, then allocates R3 from every case to a worthy cause.

“After more than 40 years,” he told me, “It gives me great pleasure to give back, both to the industry and to the community.”

Lord Somerset cabernet 2010 and merlot/cab 2010, both listed in the 2011 Best Value Wine guide, are classic examples of their genre and the Soft Smooth Red will slip down even more easily. The range also offers a 2012 sauvignon blanc, fruity and fresh, and a bushvine chenin blanc that presents characteristic flavours of peach, melon and guava. All priced at R21.50, with the exception of the robust reserve shiraz, full-bodied and spicy, selling at R25.95. Recently a new brand, Lady Somerset, was launched to complement. Along with a crisp white and dry red, there’s a pair of low-alcohol natural sweet quaffers, and all sell for R22.75.

* Tasting and sales take place at the shop at Somerset West Business Park. To find out more, e-mail [email protected] or contact 021 852 5473.

SA Wine List Awards include by-the-glass selections

Convenors Michael Olivier and Michael Bampfield Duggan released the results of the inaugural South Africa’s Wine List Awards last week. The categories were long, medium and short winelists, plus wines-by-the-glass. Entrants have been awarded one, two or three flutes, according to scores reached.

National Awards saw Ellerman House, Pondoro Game Lodge and The Blue Train win the long, medium and short lists respectively with Rhapsody’s in Lynwood taking the by-the-glass honours.

In the regional awards, KwaZulu-Natal’s The Grill Room at the Oyster Box took top spot for long list and the wine-by-the-glass, with Fordoun Hotel winning the medium list and no award being made in the short list category.

The Cape, Western and Eastern, were judged together, with Ellerman House winning the long list and Wild Peacock Emporium taking both the medium list and wine-by-the-glass awards. No best short list award was made.

Gauteng, Free State and Northern Provinces were judged together, with The Blue Train (short list) Pondoro Game Lodge (medium list) and Restaurant Mosaic (long list) and Rhapsody’s (wine-by-the-glass ) making the best grades.

Judges in the Cape and Gauteng included Dr Billy Gallagher, Cathy Marston, Anna Trapido, Ntsiki Biyela, Allan Mullins and Catherine Boutell Coackley, who noted a lack of sherry on lists. Cathy Marston applauded those who included lesser-known stars from smaller wineries, but complained about limited choice by the glass.

I found that most restaurateurs listed wines well-suited to the type of cuisine but also noted a lack of sherry, fortified and dessert wines. I was sorry that Abalone House in Paternoster, whose list I scored, did not win an award, as it offers diners a brilliant choice.

The awards are independent and do not require the restaurants to belong to any credit card or listed organisation. - Cape Argus