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Are you a nice wine lover with cash to splash?


Are you a nice wine lover with cash to splash?

If so, head for the US, Italy or Spain, where the limited-edition pickings are as stupendous as the prices

Elin McCoy

Money alone can’t buy you everything in the wine world. Not, for example, access to Napa winery Ovid’s latest rich-textured white, Experiment No. W.6.9, or to savory Variazioni di Rosso from great Italian estate Ornellaia, or to SGC Medoc, a plush red from a secret plot of vines in Bordeaux. To get your hands on those and some other unusual bottles and historic vintages you have to make a pilgrimage to the winery or join a membership group or mailing list. In one case, you need to be a nice person and give off really good vibes. Think of such exclusive wines as rewards for intrepid loyalists and wine adventurers willing to go beyond retail.

Let’s start with Ovid’s delicious “Experiments”, whose bottles sport labels that look like the handwritten tags you tie to flasks in a laboratory. Every winemaker experiments, trying out different grape varieties, ways of growing vines, types of barrels or amphora for ageing. Unlike many of them, Ovid winemaker Austin Peterson has been bottling his one-off trials in every year since 2005. He calls them “a front-row seat to concepts about winemaking”, and some have helped him refine the four terrific “official” reds for which the winery is known.

His latest batch includes 2019 Experiment No. W.6.9 (about R1,330 and upwards), which is a round, ripe, polished and totally satisfying blend of eight white varieties, such as vermentino and picpoul blanc, that serves as Peterson’s answer to what a California white wine can be (if you join the mailing list or manage to get to the Napa tasting room you may be able to buy it for $95 — about R1,300). My favourite of the two reds ($165 each — about R2,300 — same process) from this vintage is the violet-scented, dark, intense, almost exotic 2018 Experiment No. R.9.8, the result of his investigation into how vine row orientation affects grapes and the wines that result...

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