I attended a very informal wine tasting early yesterday evening at Xai Xai, the South African wine bar located in the Hell’s Kitchen district of NYC. I’ve been to Xai Xai before & believe that as far as wine bars go this place is doing many things RIGHT. I also like that this bar is exclusively a South African wine bar with South African wine, food, music & decor. I firmly believe that there are enough generic or Italian/French wine bars in the city. Having recently heard of an Eastern European bar I am certain that focusing on specific regions is the way for the new entry’s into the food/beverage business to go.
The event last night was intended to promote the release of one of the first (according to them) 2008’s to be released. Pretty amazing when you think that here in the Northern hemisphere the vines barely possess any semblance of fruit yet. But alas the Southern Hemisphere harvest is generally February/March time with white varietals destined for crisp wines harvested first.
The 2008 “Lyric” from Nederburg winery is a blend of 51% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Chenin blanc (a varietal very common in S. Africa) & 23% chardonnay. This wine had a VERY lively floral bouquet, showing typical Sauv Blanc grassiness & grapefruit rind. On the palate it was certainly crisp, maybe even a little too acidic for straight sipping, although I’m sure it would do a wonderful job complimenting food.
The good people of Nederburg were also kind enough to pour 6 other wines, a Sauvignon blanc, a Chardonnay, a late harvest riesling, a Shiraz, a Cabernet Sauvignon & a Pinotage. All the wines were pleasant and enjoyable – even the pinotage which I am normally not a big fan of.
Finally I want to reiterate the positive message about this wine bar. It is not a small place like many other wine bars (although it is not too big either), yet maintains a cozy & homey feel to it. The staff is always attentive and warm. The wine pours are quite generous. And although I have not indulged in their simple S. African style food offerings, I hear they are pretty good as well. Bottom line, a nice warm un-pretentious place that on this night hosted a nice intimate casual wine tasting. PERFECT!
Happy non-traditional locale wine tasting